28 February 2022 Blog

Not all Autistics love Animals


I often come across Autistic people that prefer the company of animals over people, and the presumption that all Autistic people are animal lovers. I am not. Or at least if I am, there’s a huge barrier getting in the way. I cannot love animals in the way that I’d like to because they frighten me. I find them unpredictable, especially dogs!

About three months ago I was out running and an ‘off the leash’ dog chased me jumping up and barking at me. The owner could not get control of the dog. I said “I’m Autistic and I’m frightened of dogs” but he didn’t seem to comprehend. He eventually took control of the dog and I ran off, went into immediate Autistic meltdown, and cried all the way home while feeling unable to breathe.

Two weeks after that my husband announced one Saturday night that ‘WE’ were getting a dog the following Monday afternoon. I was devastated! It made me feel depressed, and all I could think was ‘my husband could have lived without a dog, I could not live WITH one.’ A dog would compromise my very existence. I resisted, resented, voiced my concerns, gave every practical reason that it was a stupid thing to do, and lost the campaign. Never once did I utter the words “It’s the dog or me?” because I still live with the ‘Lost Girl’ insecurities that the dog would be chosen, not me. Many Autistic people will relate to that, perhaps more so the late diagnosed like myself.

So, the dog arrived… I dragged my heels at the office on the Monday not wanting to leave and go home, and for the succeeding weeks pretended the dog did not even exist.

Over the last 10 weeks I have slowly, but not fully, come to terms with Chester’s presence. He is teaching me about him, and he is teaching me about me.

He’s taught me how much I need my Autistic obsessions/SPINS to survive and that one of the reasons I struggle with him is that he compromises my ability to partake in them. He sabotages my obsessions, and conspires against my decompression moments.

But… we are slowly reaching an acceptance of one another, finding a way of living together. Emotionally I’m still working on a connection, but practically we are getting there. In the last two weeks he has become my new running buddy. He can’t yet do the half marathons as he’s too young, but he runs the first 5 miles with me, and his dad meets us and takes him home while I do the rest. We have a companionship kind of relationship.

Chester and I share many characteristics. We both have off the charts determination. He could easily run further but is too young at the moment for the longer distances. His fire red coat is as red as the fire in my belly for positive change for Autistic people, and he too is constantly restless, and always hungry!

As for my husband, well, he’s still in the blooming dog house!!!! 😂

28 February 2022 Blog