Scrap Book Project – Cynophobia and My Thoughts on Dogs.

In the UK you need a licence for a shotgun or to keep poison or even weed killer but not for a killer animal!


Warning – If you are a dog lover and can’t understand why some people don’t like them then leave now and do not read this post!

If you ignore this and read on and then comment and tell me how lovely dogs are then I will not respond!


“Dogs don’t like me. It is a simple law of the universe, like gravity. I am not exaggerating when I say that dogs that have not moved from the sofa in years will, at the sniff of me passing outside, rise in fury and hurl themselves at shut windows. I have seen tiny dogs, no bigger than a fluffy slipper, jerk little old ladies off their feet and drag them over open ground in a quest to get at my blood and sinew. Every dog on the face of the earth wants me dead.”                 Bill Bryson – ‘In a Sunburned Country’

On 12th August 1991 Parliament passed the Dangerous Dogs Act and that was one piece of legislation that I fully approved of.  It made it an offence to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place or in a private place where it is not allowed to be.  In addition, the ownership of certain types of dog, such as the Pit Bull Terrier was prohibited and also an offence to breed from, sell or exchange (even as a gift) a prohibited type of a dog.

Personally I would have gone a whole lot further – I would have reintroduced the dog licence fee at a minimum of £10,000 per year for all dogs (guide dogs etc. exempt of course) and I would have made people who want to keep a dog pass an exam something equivalent to the driving test just to be sure that they were competent to own one and were aware of their responsibilities!

Apologies here to my canine loving friends (I told you not to read the post) but I really don’t like dogs, I suffer from Cynophobia – I am scared of them, and this isn’t completely irrational because they really don’t like me either – but they are not frightened of me!  As soon as people with dogs realise that I have an unnatural and unexplainable fear of them then they seem to take sadistic delight in subjecting me to the terror of their company.

I did not inherit this dislike/fear from my parents:

Ivan with Dog 1936

Joan petcher

I don’t like dogs because I see no redeeming features in them. They sweat, they are greasy, they smell, they have bad breath, they shit on the pavements and they piss up my garden wall.  What is there possibly to like about them?  If I was Prime Minister I would have them all rounded up and destroyed!

My dislike for them started as a boy when I was taken one day for a walk by my granddad and on a piece of waste land opposite my parent’s house in Leicester an Alsatian dog knocked me to the ground, pinned me down and stood on my chest.  The inconsiderate owner had let it off its leash and I was absolutely terrified.  Lucky for me that granddad was able to shoo it off and chase it away or else I was sure to have been a 1958, child chewed to death by a dog, statistic.

The next detestable canine that I remember loathing was my friend David Newman’s Boxer because although, admittedly, it was almost certainly soft and harmless, it always did that other thing that I hate most about dogs (after biting me of course) and sniffed my groin and left a smudge of dribble on my trousers, which until it dried made it look as if I had a nasty little bathroom accident.  I really do hate that groin snuffling business.

The reason that I don’t want to be bitten (other than it is painful) is that I have always had a fear of rabies!

Rabies is a very serious viral infection that targets the brain and nervous system and once the symptoms of rabies have developed the condition is always fatal.  It begins with feeling a bit unwell, a bit like a severe cold but soon after, the symptoms expand to slight or partial paralysis, cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation, abnormal behavior, paranoia, terror, hallucinations and finally progressing to full delirium and death.

So, I think I have established that it is not very nice and even though there have only been twenty-five cases reported in the United Kingdom since the end of World War Two (and all of these were imported cases from abroad) it still scares the shit out of me!

Although preferable to death, if you are unlucky enough to be bitten by a rabid dog then precautionary treatment isn’t very pleasant either and involves one immediate dose of vaccine and five more over a twenty-eight day period.  Half of the vaccine is injected in the region of the bite with a great big needle so that’s obviously not great news if you have been bitten in the arse!  Even this is better than it used to be however because in the past it was all injected into nerve city central in the solar plexus with a large needle inserted through the abdominal wall, which was apparently extraordinarily painful.

And for those people who say that a dog won’t attack without warning, you are wrong!

Once out with my mother, when I was about nine or ten, she stopped to chat to a neighbour, Mrs Gamble, who was the local Freeman’s mail order catalogue agent, and who just happened to be walking her mangy black mongrel dog, unimaginatively called Blackie, past the house where we lived.  I kept a safe distance  but the woman assured me that it was perfectly harmless and that it wouldn’t hurt me so in a moment of total rashness I extended a hand of friendship to pat the thing kindly on the head and thirty minutes later I was sitting in St Cross casualty department waiting for a handful of stitches in a hand scarred for life and a painful anti-tetanus injection.

Since that day I have never again been taken in by an owner’s reassurance that a dog ‘is only trying to be friendly’ and the estimated four-thousand postmen and women who are bitten each year will probably agree with me.

And I have to say that I agree with Bill Bryson:

“It wouldn’t bother me in the least…if all the dogs in the world were placed in a sack and taken to some distant island… where they could romp around and sniff each other’s anuses to their hearts’ content and never bother or terrorise me again.” 

I didn’t always dislike dogs however:


35 responses to “Scrap Book Project – Cynophobia and My Thoughts on Dogs.

  1. My dad has kept greyhounds as pets for 20 years now – no malice in them at all, very loving and full of character. I’d say go and check them out from the Retired Greyhounds Trust, but I guess I’d be wasting my time!

    • They would attack me I guarantee it!

      • Hi Andrew,

        Sorry to contact you via your blog and I hope you don’t mind me messaging you.

        Maverick Television are making a series for sky 1 on phobias and fears. We are filming the episode about dog phobias next Thursday – Saturday and are looking for contributors to take part in group therapy. The testimonials from the contributors who participated on the previous two episodes we have filmed have been off the charts!

        Andrew, I think you’ll be a perfect addition to our group. If you are interested in hearing about the show please contact me on on and I will get back in touch with you as soon as possible.

        All the best,


  2. Adorable pictures 🙂

  3. Dogs are so unconditionally loving. You obviously had a traumatic childhood experience and I’m sorry you did. Pets are like the people who raise them, much like children. I have met many children who are disrespectful, mean, insensitive and should go live on a secluded island with their parents also. If you’re loving, you pass love on.

    • Thanks for the comment. In a way you make my point for me. I understand that people like dogs but generally people who like dogs fail to understand that some people don’t and are therefore almost completely incapable of making allowances. “He wants to be friendly” they say, or “He likes you”, well, I don’t like dogs, any dogs, and I hate it when people can’t accept that. I used to have a cat, if it annoyed a guest, or they told me that they didn’t like it, I would put it in a nother room. Simple!

  4. In light of all of your experiences Andrew I would say your view point on dogs is completely understandable. I recall Bill Bryson’s paragraphs you included .Seems to share your valid stance on the canine matter.

  5. 1. Maybe you produce a “I hate dogs pheromone”
    2. What about cats?
    3. What about people called Buster?

  6. I understand why you don’t like dogs and, even though I love them, I won’t try to change your mind.
    But a comment about rabies. I was bitten by a rabid dog when I lived in Burma. It wasn’t rabid when it bit me, but it became so. I had all the injections back in 1986 and have been fine ever since. BUT, just in case, I keep a list of people I’d like to bite.

  7. You have definitely had some bad times with/from dogs. No wonder you don’t like them. My neighbour had his stud goat killed, and his cow had an ear totally ripped off, by 2 “family pet” dogs. Rumour has it the owners are involved in retailing certain illegal substances. Who said Dismal Swamp was dull?

    Australia is currently rabies free, and has stringent quarantine regulations for animals coming in. (As Johnny Depp found out, to his sorrow and expense!)

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  10. I don’t hate dogs but I do give them a wide berth unless we’ve been introduced formerly, I trust them, but only to an extent. My family has always had dogs (I don’t) but our animals never slept indoors, they had kennels and slept outside in all weathers, were our companions on walks, but were never anthropomorphized.

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  12. Wow . . . we’re almost like kindred spirits!

    Not about dogs, but your description fits my perception of drinkers (and especially beer drinkers) . . . only I’m apparently more tolerant about them than you are of dogs.

    But, unlike beer drinkers and drinkers in general, I don’t blame dogs, but rather the people responsible for them (and I’ve worked as a postal carrier for a couple of summers).

    And, as previously mentioned, I feel much the same about kids (again, most of your description fits them as well). Well, OK . . . not all kids, and not all beer drinkers. Still, a good number of them.

    An island far away would certainly be fitting not only for dogs but also for kids and drinkers. Hmm . . . probably a few more groups, but that’s a list too long for here.

    Thanks for the story. My wife is also leery of overly-friendly canines (although she grew up with dogs in the family), hence why when we go for walks, I carry the means to dissuade dogs from approaching us when a stern voice isn’t sufficient.

  13. Andrew, I’m with you. I’m not at the extreme end of the spectrum, as you acknowledge yourself to be. I have two friends who have dogs whom I genuinely like. But they are extremely well-trained and obedient. Random dogs in random situations … just … no.

  14. I don’t think you have a phobia – your fear is based on experience and therefore not irrational

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