At heart, she is an even smaller dog, trapped inside a small dog's body.
I've written at some length about Bradley (the first small dog) and our ongoing plight to help him overcome a multitude of fears stemming from a terrible past, but it occurred to me the other day, as June lost her shit over an inanimate object yet again, that I've never talked about small dog number 2 and her somewhat bizarre phobias. At first we thought it was just big dogs. Okay, I thought. Easy-peasy. Nothing that a little basic classical conditioning couldn't fix. (Thanks, Pavlov!) Eventually, we started realizing that men also set her into 'bark and hide' mode (cower is a good word for it), in particular, bearded men. So we made her read the Portland street style blog and let her know that she was SO in the wrong city for that kind of fear, but to no avail. And then one day, she cowered at a man carrying a chair. And then one with an umbrella. And then one morning Aaron had to dress up in a black suit and tie to go to a business meeting and wore his glasses at the request of his wife (who thinks he looks extra special cute in them)... girl took one look at him, and GREAT HOLY MOTHER OF GOD WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY BEDROOM, PLEASE DON'T KILL ME, AAHH!!! Or something to that effect. Because I don't speak dog. It took us twenty minutes to coax her out from under the bed so she could smell him and get a few belly rubs, at which point, she went back to being her usual silly, happy self.
It became pretty clear that her problem wasn't with men in general, or even beards in general, but accessories. ACCESSORIES people. Do you have any idea how many accessories one encounters on a daily basis? It is incomprehensible. So far we have worked through (and she is fine with) beards, hats, umbrellas, bikes, skateboards, wheelchairs, bags, and thanks to one incredibly sweet man who put his walking stick down on the ground so she could smell it and gave her a treat (after which she proceeded to wag her whole body and lick his face until he probably regretted the action), canes. It's very easy to get frustrated though, and I have to remind myself that she really has no idea what the hell any of this stuff is. If you spent your entire life locked in a cage, cut off from the outside world and others of your own kind, churning out puppies by the dozens, you'd think that skateboard was a harbinger of death too. So we press onward. And after 8 months, I think we're finally reaching the end of the 'list of unknown accoutrements.' God forbid anyone should walk in front of us carrying a grand piano or something. But since we don't live in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, I'm going to call this a win.