terrified of dog (bloody essay)

(134 Posts)
normallylovesdogs Fri 08-Jan-16 12:09:38

I've NC'd for this, as it's such a difficult situation and I don't want me - or the dog to be identified. It's also a bit of an essay

A bit of background - I am on the autistic spectrum and struggle to know when I am right or wrong. I am thirty and have lived independently for ten years but I still speak to my mother about things which bother me - I think a lot of people do this?

I moved into a rented flat in August which I love, with a girl who seemed lovely. As time went on she was annoyed with me for small things - leaving lights on when I went out, etcetera, but she did these things herself and often left the heating on. I felt a bit like a second class flatmate even though we pay equal rent, but I liked her. She seemed nice and friendly, and had nice friends over. We would often eat together and split a bottle of wine.

She asked in December if I would mind her getting a dog - there was one she had seen in Dog Rescue Centre and liked. I like dogs, so I agreed. I have grown up with dogs, and my parents always had them. As a child I used to cycle for hours with our dogs running behind - they were collies, very bright, and we lived in the country so there were miles for them to run.

When I was home for Christmas my flatmate collected the dog. I was planning on having a new year party the day I arrived back, and my flatmate asked me to reschedule with four days notice as the dog is 'freaked out by new people.' I agreed to make dinner in the flat, then head out - until I found the pubs charged an entry. I then asked if we could have the party in my room, as I didn't want to let down friends who had based their plans round the party (It was on the cards for several months.) She said no, and I (on the advice of my mother) sent her a message saying I felt like a second class flatmate and detailing the things which upset me. As I'm not very brave I ended up apologising for this and taking it all back. To be honest, I am really scared of her and sending the message felt like a minion standing up to the emperor or something. I felt sick.

Anyway - New Year's Eve (We agreed on the meal in the flat then going to the pub - my boyfriend paid for people's tickets.) I got back late - transport chaos, all west coast services cancelled as far as Carlisle - with my boyfriend who met me at the station to help carry bags.

He walked into the kitchen to dump the bags and the dog freaked out, snarled and ran into the corridor. He is a tall man and he was carrying a heavy suitcase. The dog is fairly new, so I can see how the combination was frightening.

He and my flatmate then had a row as he had upset the dog. Things between them have never been good and he was resentful that I'd had to let my friends down, though I had explained why. I was shaking, so were we all. A lot of unpleasant things were said and the dog witnessed this (and it's owners reactions) and probably associated me with fear and conflict.

Later I went into my flatmates room where the dog was lying on her bed, and went to pet it. It growled and then bit me on the arm, not badly but broke the skin slightly. At the time I didn't think a lot of it. I was new to the dog and the dog was frightened. Also I was in his space. I should probably have had a shot or antibiotics, but I was OK and it has pretty much healed now.

Since then the dog has snarled at me in a quite threatening way quite a few times. It also growls or barks when I go near it. Apparently it was returned to the dogs home before for biting a child and I have a very child like voice, so that could perhaps be why? My flatmate thinks it associates me with Bad Energy from the first night and the row we had.

It is lovely with everyone else - I have seen it and it is fine. We have tried many things - my flatmate keeps encouraging me to pet it, take it off it's lead but it hates me touching it and it runs as far from me as it can. The other day my flatmate asked me to stroke it whilst it lay on her bed, and it snarled, then bit her as she was holding its mouth.

She constantly points out that he is fine with everyone else and I just need to 'break the ice.' Every attempt to break the ice goes wrong though.

The result is, I am terrified of it.

Things came to a head today, when I walked with my flatmate and the dog to her work - the plan being I was to walk it home and make friends with it. I was pretty scared, but agreed to do so, as I'm bad at saying no.

I originally said I was happy to help out with the dog - but this was before I knew it would behave like this. I didn't want to rescind this.

Anyway, in her work the dog was friendly to everyone except me. She gave me a biscuit to give it and it snarled and bared its teeth. I was meant to walk it home, but thankfully her boss witnessed it snarl at me and offered to let it stay there. I was terrified of getting it off the lead, as it hates me touching it.

She is furious with me, as I spoke to my mother about it last night and my mother is concerned about me and we argued. She said I tell everyone everything and I should be more tactical, she doesn't know whether she is living with a child or an adult.

I am upset as I feel she is attacking me because of her dog's behaviour. I speak to my parents about things which worry me - and perhaps I am more reliant on them than I should be, but I struggle to understand situations myself. Also, isn't it normal to tell your mother if you are afraid of something? Why ought I to hide it?

My flatmate started saying that there was no way the dog was going back to the dogs home, even though I didn't suggest that, and that I was endangering it and being irresponsible. She also said I was like a child.

I have a social worker who comes to see me every fortnight because of my autism and another disability, but I think I am quite independent. I have a part time job, several close friends and I cook, clean - have a normal social life.

I'm really upset and scared. I feel that my living space is being violated and I am being attacked for minding this. I am also naturally very passive and frightened and I tend to apologise for everything, which I am doing now, but I feel angry too - her dog is attacking me in my living space and I am made to feel it is my own fault.

She's like me to move out. I can't move in with my boyfriend as he is saving for a deposit, and living with family. I also really like this flat...but I am so unassertive and so scared

God...sorry for such an essay, I could do with a hand, a bit of support, telling what to do

I don't dislike the dog. I just fear him.

boopsy Fri 08-Jan-16 12:17:44

I don't blame you for being terrified. You are totally on the right here. Your flatmate I the one who brought the dog into your environment so she should either rehome dog or move out with it. Sounds dangerous and unpredictable tbh and will not doubt bite somebody less understanding one day. A dog doesn't come before a person. You need to be firm with your friend I'm afraid or you could end up being attacked xx

hedgehogsdontbite Fri 08-Jan-16 12:20:37

This isn't your problem, it's your flatmate's problem. She needs to sort it out. By either rehoming the dog, herself or sorting out proper dog training. Who the fuck thinks it's acceptable to clamp a dog's mouth closed as a means of dealing with it's fear?

Readysteadyknit Fri 08-Jan-16 12:21:41

It sounds scary (and I'm a dog lover). Does your tenancy allow your flat mate to keep pets? A rented flat (with an owner who works) does not seem an ideal set up for a dog - I am surprised the rescue rehomed the dog.

I don't think there's an easy solution as your flat mate does not sound as if she is a considerate person. Can you talk this through with your social worker and get an objective opinion.TBH if you were my daughter, I would be advising you to look for a new flat share.

knobblyknee Fri 08-Jan-16 12:25:32

This dog has serious behaviour issues and cannot be safely homed with the average person. It should be receiving specialist support from a behaviour counsellor and an experienced owner.
IMO it should be returned to the rescue as I doubt your roommate was honest with them about her living situation.

YANBU. Best of luck dealing with this. If you were my daughter I'd want you out of that situation or the flat mate gone. She is not a good fit for you.

IAmNoAngel Fri 08-Jan-16 12:32:56

Can you speak to the landlord? Did she get permission before getting the dog? You are not at fault here, she is. What breed is it?

normallylovesdogs Fri 08-Jan-16 12:43:52

Hello, thank you so much for your answers. I am literally shaking, and its affecting my work, my sleep, my everything, but she is very dominant, and she said I was child like to tell my parents - "I don't know who I'm living with, are you an adult or are you a child? I'm very confused."

I feel that she is to an extent taking advantage of my passiveness and vulnerability to blame me for things like the dog hating me. Last time I stood up to her (about the relocation of the party) I ended up backing down and apologising, but now I just feel sick and shaky. Should I not be able to tell me mother things like this? I am full of self doubt.

She did get permission, yes, but I doubt the landlord knew she would get a dog who is this damaged.

I normally love dogs and I think the way she has been forcing us together when it is frightened of me, and I am frightened of it. It feels counter intuitive.

It's good to have people backing me up and telling me IABU. My mother would like me to move, and I guess I could look for a new place but it feels so hard (We live in a city where good flats are few and far between.) It also feels unjust....

I am so bloody passive though and I always end up apologising even when someone has caused me hurt, it's a difficult cycle to break

RagamuffinAndFidget Fri 08-Jan-16 12:48:07

Oh OP, poor you. Please don't feel like you've done anything wrong. Your flatmate is an irresponsible idiot and she has caused these problems, not you (or the dog!). I agree with PPs about speaking to the landlord - find out whether she actually even has permission to have the dog. If not, problem solved! If she does then you need to explain that, regardless of permission, the dog is causing issues in your home. You should not be forced to live in fear because your flatmate can't look after/train a dog properly.

Readysteadyknit Fri 08-Jan-16 12:50:01

normally. This is not your fault - frankly your flat mate sounds like a horrible bully. Even if she got rid of the dog, do you want to live with her? I actually feel really angry on your behalf - what a cow!

It is unjust that she has put you in this awful position. Would your boyfriend or your mum help you look for somewhere new? flowers

amarmai Fri 08-Jan-16 12:54:05

not sure who moved in with who or whose name is on the lease-if you want to stay then her dog has to go or vv. My mum had a rehomed collie that had bit cc ; it also bit me without warning just under an eye. You`ll get more bites and you are not the only one.

PageStillNotFound404 Fri 08-Jan-16 12:54:41

There are two issues here. Firstly, you are absolutely in the right over the dog. She is being selfish, domineering, emotionally blackmailing and unreasonable. It would indeed be unjust if you end up moving out over this; however, there will be consequences regardless of what you do - if you speak to the landlord and get the dog removed, she will resent you and your friendship will be damaged. Would you want to stay there under those circumstances? If, by some miracle, she moved out with the dog, could you afford to pay the whole rent yourself until you found another flatmate? But if you do nothing, you will end up feeling even more browbeaten and unhappy. I don't envy you, it sounds like a very difficult situation.

The wider issue is your passivity. Are there any resources you can access to help you tackle this and become more assertive? A counsellor, NLP practitioner or similar?

5Foot5 Fri 08-Jan-16 13:01:51

"I don't know who I'm living with, are you an adult or are you a child? I'm very confused."

Your flatmate sounds like she is about 13 and the class bully.

Poor you, what a horrible situation. And of course it is perfectly normal to talk to family and friends about issue that you are unsure about. I think nearly anyone would do that whether they are on the spectrum or not.

Not sure what to suggest really as regardless of the dog I don't suppose it is pleasant living with this horrible woman when you have made an effort to be nice and fit in. Maybe if the landlord knows how unsuitable the dog is then she will be the one who has to leave?

normallylovesdogs Fri 08-Jan-16 13:07:24

armarmai, we moved in together

Pagestillnotfound, thank you...I don't think our friendship will recover somehow anyway. I feel sick at the way I have been treated, and made to feel like the guilty party and a child, because I confide that something frightens me.

I did agree to let her get the dog, yes, but I had no idea it would be like this. She will try to belittle me and blame me in any way she can, but she will say she is being reasonable - people who disagree with her are always 'disrespectful' or 'offensive.'

I don't know how to have a conversation with her about this. I said before I would try to move out but now the injustice has hit me, as well as the difficulty of finding a flat.

Please tell me how to speak to her in a way which is clear, assertive and stating my case

My passivity has got me into all sorts of shit before, so I know how harmful it is.

HPsauciness Fri 08-Jan-16 13:17:20

You poor thing, I would be terrified, I know I couldn't live with a dog.

You are being bullied by this person, she won't allow you to be yourself, have friends over on NYE, thinks it is reasonable for a dog to attack you, and be hostile to your boyfriend.

You are completely in the right here. You also are fine to talk with your mum, I talk with my mum every day! However, this person is seizing on your vulnerability to make you feel bad about this.

The question is: what to do next? One option is to talk with the landlord and say the dog is aggressive and has bitten both you and her (or at least nips you) and is not suitable for flat share. Your flat mate will be angry that you did this, but I'm not sure you have many other choices. The other option is indeed to move, although it seems unfair, because your relationship with her is quite poor now, and the dog is unlikely to be removed quickly.

You could stay and be assertive all the time, but this is a tiring way to live, and I'm not sure this person is reasonable, if they think it is ok to have a hostile dog living with yousad

I'm sorry you are going through this, the only thing is that if you are normally doing well in life, have friends, interesting job and so forth, the chances are that once this is resolved, you can go back to that happy life again. This is a temporary, if extraordinarily stressful blip and you will get through it one way or another.

no73 Fri 08-Jan-16 13:23:18

I would move tbh, your flatmate is being horrible and I would be ringing the landlord to say you are giving notice and move. Life is way to short to live with someone as horrible as her and her badly behaved dog.

normallylovesdogs Fri 08-Jan-16 13:23:48

thank you, thank you all. I keep pressing reload, as I don't know what to do...I feel that HP's comment 'she is seizing on your vulnerability' is true, but I also think she doesn't realise she is doing this

She sees herself as a very fair and reasonable person. I feel sick - currently asking friends if they know anywhere I can stay and looking at ads...I never thought I would hate a dog

She makes me feel crap, like it is my fault for my 'bad energy' etc...

I just want to know what to do when she begins having a go again, which she will, and soon

Jengnr Fri 08-Jan-16 13:26:19

Can you get your social worker to help?

Booboostwo Fri 08-Jan-16 13:31:01

Her dog is dangerous and out of control. She also sounds very ignorant of dog behaviour and the things she is asking you to do with the dog are just stupid.

The easiest thing in terms of conflict would be for you to move out. I hate conflict and that's what I would do I think. Another option is to tell her that she has a week to move out or you are reporting the bites to the Dog Warden. She is likely to get very upset with this but may move out and leave you in peace to find another flat mate.

no73 Fri 08-Jan-16 13:31:09

You call her on it and say 'you are bullying me and I do not like it please stop' and then state that her dog bit you and she is very lucky you did not inform the police to have the dog put down that instead of bullying you about the dog she should have apologised and got a trainer in.

She is being an utter arse about it all and just in general. If my beautiful dog ever bit anyone then I would be trying a trainer and if that didn't work then I'd be putting him down. That is what normal, respectful and sensible people do with dogs.

I find it very hard to believe that a dogs home gave this dog to her they normally check the flat etc before hand. I'd ask her where she got the dog and call them as well stating the dog has bitten you and you want to know its backgrounds you are now scared it will attack again. I would also check your tenancy agreement too.

It is not bad energy, she knows she is in the wrong and is blaming you but I know how you feel. My Nan got a dog from a home and when I first met it she growled and went for me and it took me ages to like the dog and I was always wary of it.

normallylovesdogs Fri 08-Jan-16 13:34:38

Jengnr, I suspect my social worker might involve the police, which is the last thing I (or my flatmate) would want as it would lead to horrible consequences, and I don't want the animal destroyed.

I guess what I want to know is what to say to her when she says 'can we talk,' then gives me a telling off for my immaturity/childishness in telling my mother that I am fucking terrified - what then? My default position is to go 'oh sorry, sorry, yes, sorry, I'm so stupid, sorry'

amarmai Fri 08-Jan-16 13:36:42

when she has a go again , choose something simple to repeat e.g. people are more important than dogs
or as you know she is not fair maybe`you are not being fair to me`
or `stop blaming me for your bitey dog``
hopefully mn will come up with other suggestions. Pick one and keep one repeating it.
here`s another; you and your dog need to be rehomed

HPsauciness Fri 08-Jan-16 13:39:13

But why is she telling you off?

Is she the boss of you?

No, and that's the problem. She says you are like a child, and then takes advantage of that by treating you like one, when she can clearly see you are quite easily intimidated by that and told off by her! It's kind of ironic, except she won't see it.

I'm sure she's quite happy with the arrangement, anyway, you are a quiet compliant friendly person who is putting up with the insufferable, so I suspect it will be you that has to shift, not her.

normallylovesdogs Fri 08-Jan-16 13:41:05

thank you HP and amarmai, and all of you. Your responses are giving me strength.

liz70 Fri 08-Jan-16 13:41:18

OP, I could suggest a couple of things, but they would on your flatmate backing you up with them. Unfortunately, it sounds as if she is being childish and irresponsible, despite the fact that she is accusing you of being so; it's the other way round.
You should tell her outright to stop trying to make you become "friends" with her dog, because before you can be "friends" with it, the dog needs to know that, as a human living in the flat it lives in, YOU - as equally well as your flatmate - are boss over it, not the other way round. At the moment you are not, and the dog knows that.
You don't have to be cruel or aggressive. I would forget treats because they are for rewarding good behaviour, not to bribe a dog not to snarl or growl (or worse) at you - that should be standard.
With you flatmate's co-operation -although it sounds like that may be problematic - I would, in your place, spend some time - several weeks - being the sole giver of meals to the dog. Dogs soon learn that the person who gives them food, is in control. No food = starve; the message is soon learned. Does it sit obediantly when awaiting a meal? If not, the bowl is held out of reach until it does so. Even when the bowl is placed on the floor in front of the sitting dog, it is not allowed to move to eat the food until a further word indicating that it may is given (in our house it is "Okay". If it does so, the bowl is removed again, and the dog is made to sit again. ANY aggressive behaviour - growling, snarling etc. during meal time and the bowl is taken away again, until the dog is subdued.
All this reiterates that you are the "boss" here, not the dog. Does your flatmate have a crate for it? I'm a big believer in them, not only as a place to put the dog in for time out if it's behaving badly - crate door locked, room door shut and ignored until it's calmed down - it also becomes the dog's own place of refuge when it wants some peace itself. Some people warn that temporarily confining a dog in a crate for bad behaviour will lead to its viewing it as a "punishment chamber" and not a bed/rest place, but I haven't found this to be the case.
Some people might also advocate muzzle use until the aggressive behaviour is under control, but I've no experience of them myself.
One thing I did to deter bad behaviour when our dog was growing up was to have a small plastic drinks bottle filled with small stones, that is shaken sharply as soon as the dog elicits bad behaviour. It's not violent or agrressive, but the dog hates the sound, and comes to learn that behaving badly = horrible noise.
Only, and only when, this dog has made to realise, that you are its (benevolent) co-mistress, alongside your flatmate, can you live comfortably with it in your home, and move onto to being friendly, and giving praise, treats etc.
I'm just making these suggestions as a dog owner myself, and with a brother who also has a dog. I also recommend that your flatmate seeks professional training advice too.
Whatever you do, you need your flatmate's co-operation, so you are going to need to be firm with her. As you have said, she is taking advantage of your vulnerability just now. If you can find the strength to stand up to her, calmly but firmly, it's possible that she may back down, and agree to work with you on this issue. If she continues to be difficult, you may want to consider if you really want to continue sharing a home with her. Best of luck, whatever you do.

dogvcatcat Fri 08-Jan-16 13:41:19

YANBU and I am a massive dog lover. I feel sorry for both you and poor dog - this is clear not a suitable environment for it and like others I am genuinely shocked the rescue shelter rehomed the dog with your flatmate.

I think you are going to have to move out I'm afraid sad

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