A week ago, I met Benedetta, who arrived from Milan with her mummy. I had known that she’s afraid of dogs and even though she put on a very brave front, I knew she was terrified of me.
Well, I knew it wasn’t me. Even though she had never been attacked by a dog, she has this innate fear – so strong that she would be looking down the road to see if there should be a dog in the distance. And if there is one approaching, she would cross over to the other side. Sometimes her fear would be so great that she would step onto the road without looking.
So I did not take her reaction towards me personally but instead I took on the challenge to win her over. And this was the course of events …
Tuesday – Benedetta and Stefania arrived at our home. When we met, she was hiding behind her mummy. But she said bravely – I am not afraid of Darcy because she writes a blog! Sound alike a good enough reason! 🙂 But then every time I moved towards her, she would scurry away in fear, often holding on tightly to her mother’s arm.
Wednesday – we went to the Sporting Page for some fish-n-chips. As usual I was sitting under the table. But Benedetta could not sit unafraid because I was sitting on her side of the table – too close to her feet. So Mummy asked me to move to the other side.
Friday – they came to our home for dinner. And while Stefania was preparing supper, Benedetta sat in the living room watching telly but she soon got bored and came into the kitchen to see what was happening. Of course I was there and every time she moved, I wanted to see what was going on. And every time I moved, she would scuttle away in fear. I remained calm. Then at the opportune moment, I sat under her chair – she looked down at me and told her mother – “Darcy likes me.”
Saturday – we all went to Windsor together. Today, Benedetta started the day being more calm. But you can tell she was watching me from a distance. She kept a watch on me – to be sure that I do not go anywhere near her. They all went into Windsor Castle while we waited outside. And guess what she came out with? For someone who is afraid of dogs, she bought a toy Corgi. And she wanted me to see it – though with a lot of hesitancy. But by lunch time, she was brave enough to give me some chips.And she wanted to show me her Corgi again.
When we finished lunch, she was walking close by when Mummy handed her my lead and she took it! Here she is holding my lead for the first time – probably the closest she has come to a canine. You’re alright, Benedetta? Let’s walk slowly together. It’s nice to walk along life’s road with a friend. Mummy, I think she’s going to be ok with me.It was time for some photo opps – and here’s Benedetta and Kai sitting down on the steps. She patted me and then urged me to sit in between them. Benedetta still holding onto my lead, I sat in between the two of them as we waited for the train to go home. It’s been a very different day for Benedetta.Sunday – her father called to speak about how brave she was with the “dog” and she corrected him – “it’s not dog, her name is Darcy!” Yes, seriously! 🙂
Tuesday – she came to say goodbye as we might not see her tomorrow when they leave to go home. She wanted to have her photo with her favourite teddy (that Mummy age her when she was born) and me with my teddy. I was even allowed to sit next to her. Well, actually she was sitting in my chair and we sat together. From being absolutely terrified to wanting to have her photo taken with me – in one week, Benedetta has come a long way. It was her sheer determination to overcome a fear that she knows is irrational.
We don’t know if and when Benedetta will overcome her fear for dogs (and cats, apparently) but I have done my part to let her know that she has nothing to fear with me. I hope she will remember me fondly. She did invite us to stay with her the next time we’re in Milano!
May’s comment: Well done, Darcy. She seems to have sensed that Benedetta’s movements were one of fear. For that, she only tried to gain her confidence. She would gently go up to Benedetta and never once jumped at her in excitement and not even when Benedetta would be scrambling to get away from her. Darcy moved away when told to. And she chose her moments to quietly be next to Benedetta to gain her confidence. She never barked when she was around and only had a waggy tail whenever she saw her. Brava, Benedetta! Brava, Darcy!