When I was little and still lived in a big city, my family would spend occasional weekends four hours away, in the middle of nowhere. There were seemingly endless forests full of trails to explore, bugs to catch, and some decent kids to hang out with. The place was a paradise where I could ride around on my bike all day with my friends, and ride we did. In our travels, however, there was one place that we avoided. It was a house that contained something so horrifying that we didn't dare get too close. We would ride our bikes ten minutes out of the way to circumvent it, or, if we were in a really extreme hurry, we would race past it at top speed on our bikes, never looking back. The people who owned the house supposedly had a pet, the likes of which I had never seen, though I had heard the tales. According to legend, the golden retriever that lived there once almost ripped some guy's brother's leg off.
One time I was riding my kick scooter alone on a dirt trail through a forest. I stopped to pee on some bushes, and when I finished and turned around to get back on my scooter, I felt my stomach drop below my knees.
Standing next to the scooter was a dog.
I had never seen a golden retriever, so I didn't know if it was the monster dog, but I was generally scared enough of dogs by this point that I was shaking with fear. Knowing I had little chance of escaping on my scooter, I tried to remain calm and walk with the scooter between myself and the dog, using it as some kind of entirely useless shield. The dog followed me out of the forest, panting silently and glancing at me. By the time I got back to the street, I had figured out that the tail-wagging may not have been an act of aggression, and I decided to risk riding the scooter again. The dog didn't chase me, and as I rode away I felt incredibly relieved to have not been mauled.
Another time I was riding around with one of my friends, and we decided to explore a trail we had never taken before. It turned out to be a horrible mistake.
Shortly after embarking along the dirt path, a dog barked at us from one of the houses that the trail ran behind. We stopped for a moment, wondering if we should turn around. We decided to risk it and keep going.
A few minutes later, we were being barked at again. We kept riding, and soon more dogs were barking at us. It seemed like every house had a barking dog behind it. They were mostly fenced in behind chain-link fence, but they could obviously see us, and that was terrifying enough. What if they got loose? We stopped our bikes and feebly tried hiding behind them, but the dogs kept barking.
"Should we keep going or go back?" my friend asked, tears coming down his face.
"I don't know," I sobbed, "There are dogs both ways!"
We decided to keep moving forward, walking our bikes and trying to duck low to the ground, which slowed us down immensely and did absolutely nothing to curb the noise of the ferocious house pets. We were both scared out of our minds and crying, almost positive we were going to be eaten alive.
"I have to pee," I said.
"We have to get out of here!"
"I know," I cried, "but I really have to go!"
I tried to remain in my crouched position while I peed on a tree, my friend begging me in a panic to hurry up so we could continue our escape. Sometimes you really just have to go. I finished and we kept moving.
Eventually, we got to the street, hopped on our bikes, and rode away as fast as our legs would let us. We never took that trail again.
My fear of dogs subsided as I grew older, until I was about 20. I was at a friend's house, and another friend showed up with a pit bull. I was sitting on the floor, and the dog walked over and began sniffing me.
"Wow," my friend with the dog said, "He likes you. He doesn't like anybody."
The moment he was done saying that, the dog started growling at me, inches from my face. My friend pulled him away and took him into another room. I was a little shaken, as I had heard that if a pit bull bites you, they almost have to kill it to get it to let go. I stayed in the room where I was.
When I finally left the room, the dog saw me and ran at me. It jumped up and bit my arm. It bit softly enough that it may have been playing, but my friend ran over and pulled the dog off of me, yelling at it. I was going to hang out for a while, but I decided to leave instead.
Shortly after that, I went to a girl's house with one of my friends to pick up a drum set. Her family raised rottweilers, and they barked at us ferociously from their outdoor kennels as we walked to her door. I was shaken enough by the recent pit bull incident that I was a little freaked out by the big, loud dogs. When we went into her bedroom, she had another rottweiler standing on her bed, it's head level with mine for easy access to my jugular vein. She tried to convince me that she was a friendly dog and that I should pet her, but I just wanted to get the drums and get the fuck out of there as quickly as possible.
When I first met my girlfriend, her family had a pit bull that was so dangerous and mean that it had to be chained up all the time. It would bark and growl like a maniac at everybody who didn't live there, and would even come to her window to terrorize me when I was in her bedroom. That certainly didn't help improve my opinion of the breed.
To this day, rottweilers and pit bulls both freak me out to the point of looking like a complete wuss. If I see somebody walking one of these dogs, I walk the other way.