Sometimes Fears are Irrational

I’m afraid of frogs.

I’ve been bungee jumping. I’ve been swimming with sharks several times. I share my pillow with a 110-pound bully breed. I once put a boa constrictor in a cat carrier and drove it to Edisto Island in the passenger seat of my car. I don’t even mind public speaking that much.

But on Friday morning, a frog the size of a ping pong ball had me stonewalled at the front door of the SPCA.

I’m aware that this fear is irrational. Frogs don’t have teeth (do they?). Most of them aren’t poisonous. I don’t even think they actually give you warts.

It doesn’t matter to me that frogs are associated with princes or that many people are reminded by frogs to Fully Rely on God. If my kids come at me with cupped hands saying “Look what I’ve got,” they know darn well it better be a firefly, because if it’s a frog, someone’s getting their back porch painted red.

I’ve been afraid of frogs for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I lived across the street from the Boulware family. Peter, then Petey, kept a trash can full of frogs he’d catch in the yard. It was absolutely terrifying. The way most kids carry a sippy cup and a blankie, Petey carried frogs. One in each hand. He must have grown accustomed to scaring the daylights out of people, because as I understand it, he grew up to be a pretty successful linebacker.

My point is this: Everyone is afraid of something. Everyone has loved something. Everyone has lost something. Sometimes, the things we’ve loved, lost, or in particular, been scared of are completely illogical. And no amount of people telling us not to be afraid of them is going to assuage that fear.

My father is always going to be wary of pit bulls. I don’t think my friend Sybil will ever come to love public speaking.

Kate is afraid of dry cotton balls. Well, she says she’s not afraid so much as she just doesn’t like how they feel, but if you put one on her laptop keyboard, she will scream like a banshee.

I think Kate’s fear of cotton balls is crazy. And she thinks I’m nuts for nearly wetting my pants when I see a frog. Neither of us understands the other’s fear, but we respect it.

I met a wonderful woman last week who is afraid to have her dogs sterilized. On the surface, I thought “absurd,” but as I dug a little deeper, I found this dear woman experienced a tragic outcome when she, herself, was anesthetized. Strangely enough, as completely understandable as I found her fear to be, she knows it is nearly as irrational as my fear of frogs.

We both know there is little real reason to be afraid. But past experience sometimes dictates there is indeed more to fear than fear itself. Unless someone takes the time to help us over our fears, we may always have them. Just saying, “Well, that’s just foolish,” isn’t going to change our mind.

My new friend is coming to the SPCA to see all of our adoptable pets. I’ve told her they have all been sterilized and that we currently perform more than 5,000 surgeries a year in our state-of-the-art clinic. I’m hoping by using some patience and understanding about her fear, she may be able to overcome it.

By trying to see things from her perspective, I’ve been able to make a connection where there otherwise would not have been one. I’ve been able to share some great information about spay and neuter, like the fact that having dogs sterilized can significantly increase their life expectancy, because they will not be susceptible to certain cancers of the reproductive system.

So, I guess time will tell – will my friend be able to overcome her fear for the good of her pets? Maybe. Maybe not. But, dare I say it? I feel that her being able to trust me with her fear is more important than getting the dogs sterilized. Of course, now that I think about it, where trust grows, fear shrinks.

If you are ready now to have your pet sterilized, give us a call at 803-648-6863 to set up an appointment. Pediatric (6 months and younger) surgeries are just $20 in June while funding from Petsmart Charities lasts, so don’t delay!

And does anyone out there have any advice for me about frogs? I don’t think I can use the excuse “a frog was at the door” for being tardy more than once.

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The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare is a

tax-exempt 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization.

EIN: 57-0329782

  199 Willow Run Road  Aiken, SC 29801      Shelter: (803) 648-6863    Vet Care: (803) 648-6864

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