“Hi I am Markus and I used to be really scared of dogs. Recently (recently being about 2 months ago) I started counselling with Dr Savina Wachter at CAMHS and since then my fear of dogs has gotten a lot better.

During a counselling session with Dr. Wachter, she arranged for my next session to be at Thrift End Farm Canine and Pet Centre. On my first visit I was so scared I couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car. Eventually after being reassured that there were no dogs running free I got out of the car and went towards a field that was behind a huge barbed wire fence with a door. Inside the field there were 2 dogs Jake (a medium sized dog that had black and white fur) and Lockie (a small dog that was a golden brown colour like nice toast).

At first I had nothing really to do with the dogs but I was given a tennis ball thrower and a tennis ball, and I used them to throw tennis ball over fence so Jake could run after the ball. I did that a few times and then moved on to something different. Mo, the owner of the Canine and Pet Centre, kindly brought Lockie out of the field closer to me so I could stroke her while she was being held by the collar. That helped a bit with my fear but that concluded my first session at the Pet Centre, although I did go back 2 days later to feed some treats to the dogs in the cages with Lee (the other owner of the Centre).

2 weeks later on my next session with Dr. Wachter in Kempston Child Development Centre a plan was formulated. Before my next session with Dr. Wachter I would visit the Pet Centre 3 more times with my dad and do a few things such as let a dog smell me, things like that. But on the next session with Dr. Wachter I was supposed to walk a dog for at least a minute so that was the plan.

1 day later I went for the 1st of 3 visits where I fed all the dogs in the kennels again and met one of the dogs owned by Lee, her name was Pixie a little Jack Russel, I eventually let Pixie smell me while she was being held, but I felt scared whenever she would walk towards me. I did some of the things on the plan, yes even walk her and didn’t walk her. I didn’t walk her for 1 minute either, it was something like 10 minutes.

2 days later I went for my 2nd of 3 sessions without Dr. Wachter. I basically repeated all the stuff I did last time but Lee suggested that I grabbed a chair and let Pixie sit on my lap. My reaction was “ NO, NO NO NO JUST NO” but I eventually grabbed the chair and sat down but any time Pixie went near me I fell off the chair and scurried away but after blackmailing my Dad for a reward, I did it, and it was fine. Pixie just quietly sat on me, although I was still nervous about her claws, but after walking her for a few more minutes I even wanted Pixie to sit on my lap again.

5 days later I went for my 3rd session without Dr. Wachter. I repeated everything done last time and went in the field to walk Pixie. I also met a dog named Molly (looked like Lockie) and I did everything with her that I did with Pixie.

6 days later we had a session with Dr. Wachter and I did everything I did on the previous visits and repeating something does help. Although I am still too nervous to let a dog jump up on me even if I know and trust him/her. But I think that is mainly that I don’t like the idea of a dog ever licking me, in fact don’t really like the idea of anything licking me.

I am a LOT less nervous being around dogs so it’s looking like sometime in the future whether it be a few days, weeks, months maybe even years, we might get a dog. But I know that it is really helping and that’s why anyone who has a need for counselling should come to CAMHS and get help. I know if you have any fears there is no instant result or solution, after all it took your whole life so far to be this afraid of something, so can’t really expect a fear to be gone in 1 or 2 hours. But I really do feel that there is less stress when I go out and look forward to that improving further.”