DEAR ABBY: My husband and I frequently entertain at home. We have a dog and a cat that we love like members of our family. When we have guests, we always confine our pets in another area before our guests arrive. Many of our friends have told us that they appreciate this because they have a fear of dogs, or cats or both!
Our veterinarian told us that when some people say they "dislike" animals, they actually fear them. For example, if a person who is not used to having pets around entered someone's house and was greeted at the door by a hostile dog barking angrily or a cat that curled around his leg, he could have an anxiety attack!
I happen to have a terrible fear of snakes. I know that not all snakes are poisonous, but just the sight of a snake terrifies me. Yet some people have snakes as pets -- but I cannot imagine a host or hostess allowing a pet snake to slither freely among the guests. Well, the fear of dogs and cats is every bit as terrifying to some people as the fear of snakes is to me.
Our animal-loving friends didn't believe us when we brought this up in conversation. They thought it was an exaggeration, but after questioning others whom they thought merely "disliked" animals, they finally admitted that they were actually afraid of them.
What do you and your readers think? -- ANIMAL LOVERS
DEAR ANIMAL LOVERS: I consulted my animal expert, Dr. Erwin David. He said: "The analogy concerning the snake is a good one. People tend to fear that which they distrust -- and dislike that which they fear."