Charlies Corner- October 2021

All About Spiders and Therapy

Charlie’s Corner is the domain of Charlie, the furry four-legged lady’s man of Market Common. Each month, he’ll share information to help all new, visiting, and existing doggie community members get the most out of life alongside their human companions. Here, we’ll feature his reflections on what it’s like to be a dashing downtown doggie, as he reminds all of us how to play well together. 

This month, Charlie admits to a doggie weakness and decides on his Halloween costume. 

A lot of people have been talking about how this past pandemic year has elicited time for greater introspection which in turn has yielded inner growth, and in some cases, monumental shifts or major life changes. Not to be left behind, I would also like to report such findings. 

In my personal case, it has resulted in greater self-honesty. Specifically, I have finally come to grips with the fact that I have fears. 

This may come as a surprise to those of your who think that I am particularly stalwart, as I boldly share the inner workings of my doggie mind and put myself out there so transparently every month in my column. But yes, full disclosure. One of my canine foibles is that I try to hide my fears. And in particular, I have a phobia of… spiders. 

I have never mentioned this before to anyone, so this is a vulnerable moment for me. But alas, spiders make my fluffy coat stand on end. It’s especially nerve wracking for me because I walk in the grass where they often live, and I don’t wear shoes, so I might accidentally step on one. Or one might crawl on me without my noticing (ewwww). 

I’m also waaaay closer to the ground than you humans, so at times I’ve found myself face to face with their beady eight eyes (shudder), and all of their fangs (yikes)! 

I know that some humans share my fears, so it’s nice to know I’m not alone. However, I’m having a hard time accepting that this is a phobia of mine. Personally, I feel that as a pooch, I should be cooler with other animalian or insect brethren, because you know, for the most part, we canines don’t share traits with other humans that could make you all more squeamish of spiders and us less so— things like cultural conditioning around cleanliness (rolling in the mud anyone?); the sense of keeping the great outdoors outside of your living space; talking (I said for the most part, remember?). 

But I am never one to let something detain me from my doggie happiness or passion for building community for very long— whether it’s a personal foible, some needed research, or extricating myself from an unsavory love match. So I decided to empower myself to combat this great fear and asked the Wizard of Oz what to do. Just kidding; I did something even better— I Googled it.  

In my searching, I discovered a psychological technique called cognitive behavioral therapy which can help neutralize the intense fear and anxiety that people feel in certain situations. The technique aims to change behavioral responses to stimuli and improve emotional regulation. 

I could definitely use some emotional regulation when facing an 8-eyed hairy, mini-monster, so sign me up. But how specifically to achieve that zen-like state? A little more investigating and I discovered something called exposure therapy. With this, you expose someone to whatever it is that they fear, but in small doses and safe environments, consistently, until they build a tolerance. 

Since my doggie brain usually keeps me firmly locked in the now moment, I’m not sure how well this will work. But hopefully something like potty training, because that I definitely can do, thank you very much. 

After some pondering, I decided on a course of action to behave more like a normal doggie, undaunted by spiders. Life is on my side my friends. As it’s Halloween this month— the season when we all tend to get a little more up close and personal with things spooky and macabre— I’ll be sure to have consistent exposure to those fuzzy arachnoids. 

Plus, what better way to face my fears from a place of safety than to impersonate one for my costume? It’s such an easy get-up too. I’m already furry— I just have to dye myself black and add double the amount of legs I already have; and four times the number of eyes. Perhaps adopting the traits of my great nemesis will help me have greater compassion and appreciation for them. Who knows, we may even become friends! What do you think? 

Until next time,