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I knew there were things about my personality that would change this year. I wasn't expecting, however, to come home, afraid of barking dogs. I didn't actually realize that I might be afraid of a barking dog until last week, my friend's cute and cuddly golden retriever was trying to protect me from a black garbage bag flying around in the backyard - obviously resembling something like Darth Vader.

When we lived in Leeds, we had a cute little flat on a cute little street. They were row houses - all stuck together - and there were only eight of them. We lived right at the end.

I loved that I felt like I was living in Coronation Street. It was so quaint - so England.

And then I met the dogs.

Mutt #1 - a yippie brown and white small terrier dog with an obvious Napoleon complex and an obsession with protecting its territory.

Mutt #2 - a small black old dog with more of a bark than a howl

Mutt #3 - German Shepherd puppy which grew quite quickly in the time we were there and learned all its life lessons from Mutt #1

My first encounter was leaving for work one morning. It was still dark - as it always is in the winter in England - and it was raining (surprised anyone?).

I walked from my flat door down the street when suddenly, out of the dark and into the rain came these two dogs. Mutt #1 and Mutt #2. I screamed. They barked. Mutt #1 jumped up and took a chunk out of my leg. Not literally, but it was a bite none the less.

That night, after work, I went by the house to tell them about the experience. The woman apologized profusely and told me that if it happened again, they would get rid of the dog. I let her know I was sorry that it may come to that and perhaps it was my fault because I scared them but if they kept them on a leash, or at least got to know me better, it might work out next time.

And so began what would be the most infuriating experience I have ever had with a dog owner.

I love dogs. At the time, I had two dogs of my own, living with my parents. So, this is not about some bitter person who doesn't like them around. I just happen to also respect those people who take responsibility for their animals.

Richard was his name. And being an ignoramus was his game.

He would let his dogs out without a leash every day. He would leave them outside. He would let them jump up on people.

“Aw, love, just give ‘em a kick”

He would have street parties – celebrating a variety of things but it was usually just an excuse to get hammered – and let his dogs run up and down the little lane so that anyone who lived past his house could not get into their own.

He would accuse other people of being afraid of dogs and that it was their problem that the dogs were jumping up.

“Aw, love, they won’t bite”

But Mutt #1 did bite me again. And this time, I got a sob story.

“I’ve had a good cry,” said Richard. “And now I know I have to do the right thing. We’ve got a baby on the way. I’ve got to get rid of the dog.”

It was sad. It really was.

But it was a crock after we heard him confess this four times. Every time the dogs would jump, he would give us this story. He would repeat himself. And he would always be drunk.

I had been as polite as I could be. Until one day, my head exploded.

We had been on a train from Edinburgh all day. I was hungry. All they had on the train were sandwiches (see earlier post) and I was not happy.

We arrived in our cab. The dogs began jumping on the cab – barking at the door as I was trying to get out.

As I eventually emerged, I snapped. (I’m a redhead you see. It takes a while for me to get angry, but when I do, I blow)

I started yelling all those things I ever wanted to say to him when I was polite.

Dogs need good owners – you are not one of them.

Stop letting your dogs jump.

Stop letting your dogs bark.

I am not afraid of dogs

You are an f**king idiot.

It felt great. It felt really great. Dave and Richard’s buddy eventually got us to stop yelling at each other.

And I felt great.

But now, I seem to be a bit afraid of barking dogs.

Thanks Richard – you twit.

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