• Abigail Ann

Facing Fears (Yes, I use to be terrified of dogs!)

We all have fears. There’s always something that we avoid because well, it’s scary! I remember being extremely afraid of dogs. My entire family at some point, had been bitten by dogs; my mom, my dad, and both of my brothers. I thought it was inevitable. Every dog I met, I braced myself, thinking I was next. Thinking back on this, I realize how silly this sounds.

I remember being at a friend's house who had two german shepherds. I’d always asked him to keep them put away when I was around. This day though, one of the dogs was out. I was walking through the grass towards him and another friend. His dog started running towards me and I fell to the ground and laid there in the fetal position, crying. Once his dog got to me, he sniffed around and walked away.

I felt like such an idiot. Trauma looks different for everyone, but generally each person responds in fight, flight, or freeze. I’ve always been the type to run away or freeze. In that moment, I froze completely. My friends came running to me to make sure I was okay, but it didn’t keep me from feeling stupid. I knew I had to do something about this fear but I didn’t know how to handle it.

Fast forward to today and I now have a dog of my own and love dogs! How did this happen? It was a slow process. It all started in 2019 when I started my business. I had an old friend reach out who said she’d love to work with me and needed help with her “bernedoodle biz”. To which I replied with “What’s a bernedoodle?”

Leanne and I reconnected and I ended up helping her redesign her website and helped her set up an Instagram and Facebook page for her business. We worked together for a couple months. She asked if I wanted to come to KY to work in-person. I LOVED this idea, but she had no idea I was terrified of dogs… but her and I had travelled to Africa together, I knew her well. I thought, I should just go. Why not?

I remember getting there and meeting her dogs and puppies! It felt good to face my fear. Plus, these dogs were so much different than any I’d ever met. They were so sweet and hardly ever jumped on me. We got in the car to pick up her daughter and decided to bring one of the puppies with us. They do this to help the puppies get acclimated to new situations. She hopped in the driver seat and I got in the passenger seat. She handed me the puppy to hold and I held it like Rachel did when Ross passed her his baby in Friends. If you’re not familiar with the show, she held the baby in front of her like she didn’t even know how to hold it. This was me with the puppy.

Leanne looked at me and said, “Are you okay?” I said, “Umm… I’m kind of scared of dogs.” She goes, “Girl! You never told me that!” and went to grab the puppy. I told her I wanted to keep holding her. We laughed and I started telling her about my experience with dogs. Macy, the puppy I was holding, laid on my lap the whole time. She stared up at me so sweetly the whole time I was talking. We picked up Leanne’s daughter Ellie and went to get an ice cream. I was extremely impressed that the dog never even tried to get some of my ice cream!

This was the first moment I actually felt like I was starting to overcome my fear. For the next year, I spent many weekends, sometimes weeks at Leanne’s house. We would work on her business and brainstorm together. We became such good friends. Her and her family are family to me now. We’ve walked through so many things together. All the while helping each other grow – in business and in life. Not only did she help me overcome a fear, she also knew I would be such a good “dog mama” as she puts it. ;) Finally, after a year or so, I decided I wanted a dog of my own. She sent me a photo of Milly and from the moment I saw her, I knew she was my girl.

I brought her home and worked on potty training and new puppy training, all while working on my own business from home. This was a transition in itself, but I’ll save that for another blog post. ;) Baxter and Bella was my saving grace during this time! It’s an online puppy school I used to help train Milly and create balance while also running my own business.

Getting Milly has taught me so many things. She’s taught me to face my fears head on and enjoy the process. She’s taught me that fear is sometimes just something we create in our own minds. She’s taught me to enjoy the little things in life. She always takes time to smell flowers when we’re on walks. This reminds me to slow down and enjoy the journey.

Leanne is one of my closest friends now. We’ve spent late nights talking about life, dreaming together, encouraging each other when things get rough. I can’t imagine what life would have looked like if I hadn’t gone because of fear. Sometimes facing our fears isn’t about overcoming the fear, it’s about what God wants to do in our heart – who he wants to connect us with.

When we decide to get out of our comfort zone and charge forward - trusting Him, beautiful things can happen. Let this be a reminder, whatever it is you’re facing, whatever it is that keeps you frozen, or keeps you up at night, find a way to face it or find a way to let God carry the burden.

There’s so much beauty in getting beyond ourselves and doing it AFRAID. Sometimes that’s the only way through. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes we just have to journey a little farther to see it. One step at a time.

If you want to see more videos and picture of Milly, she's on Instagram! Yes, I made my dog an Instagram. Judge me if you want, but I had to have a place to post all her pictures. :)

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