Art and Photography to Overcome Fear of Dogs

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by Brandi Fitzgerald

We are all born unafraid. We are all born without the desire to judge and we are all born innocent yet prewired for learning.

When I was young, I managed to acquire a very deep fear of dogs. This fear, at times, was paralyzing. I had vivid dreams of being chased – usually onto the top of a car where the dogs weren’t able to jump high enough to get to me. I wouldn’t go outside alone at night for fear of a dog wandering the neighborhood that would see me and chase me back into the house.

I lived in the epitome of suburbia on the East side of Boca Raton, FL. where there aren’t really wandering dogs. Lizards, maybe. Dogs, probably not. (If it were 2011 when I was growing up in Boca Raton, It would be a pooch in a pocketbook before a loose pooch on the street.) I even grew up in a house with two dogs – Hazel & Heide. “Haze” was a shephard mix that my uncle found on the road on his way home from leave from the Navy. Heide, well to this day, I am not sure where the little black dachshund, came from but I do know that my grandmother loved those dogs like they were her kids.

These dogs were like any mild mannered family pet one could have but there were even times when I would be afraid to look at them. Why? I am not really sure. I remember walking around the block with my grandparents, as they often did in the evening, when a man was walking his golden retriever. I became so afraid that I wanted my grandpa to pick me up and put me on his back because the dog wasn’t on a leash. Goodness – I was probably 7 years old and it was a Golden Retriever for the love of pete! These fears seem irrational now, but they were certainly very very real for me.

This even continued into my teens and early 20’s. My friends would tease me by rattling keys or telling me that there was a dog nearby. They would always get a good laugh at my expense and even to this day it still comes up in conversation. I am now almost 35.

I am not really sure where these fears stemmed from at such a young age. My mom did have a good friend whose dog jumped on me and snipped at my face when I was about 4 years old so maybe that was a trigger. That was also the same day I stuck my finger into an oscillating fan and still have the scar to this day to prove it. I certainly never developed a fear of oscillating fans. My dad had a very territorial Boxer named Gatlinburg who lunged & latched onto my elbow after only knowing my father for a few hours…I was 19. Meeting my dad for the first time at 19, well that is a story for another day!

So what happened to me into my late 20’s? I met someone in California who had an amazingly beautiful Brindle Boxer named Jessie. Patty and I became good friends and although Jessie had a VERY tough looking exterior that regurgitated my childhood fears, we also became good friends. I began to really delve into photography upon the digital age in the mid 2000’s and it truly made me realize, through looking at a captured image of Jessie, how innocent dogs (and most animals) are.

It is people that we should be afraid of. People are responsible for the outcome of most animals behavior and personalities, as they partly are for the personalities and beliefs of their children (should they have them). I realized that people that love animals possess a level of compassion deeper than I am able to understand. A level of passion deeper than I have even developed for my photography and art.

The greatest thing about life is learning and accepting that we are never too old to learn. I feel more passionate about my own life by learning about the lives and passions of others. Especially pet lovers. I have been taking pictures of peoples pets for a few years now and turning pictures of their pets into artwork for a little over 2 years.

I had a successful career in the accounting field for many years and it wasn’t until quitting my corporate job and doing my first Paintographic Pet Art piece that I felt like my passions really came to fruition. Photography & Art have sincerely helped me overcome my fears and become more passionate about animals. For that, I am grateful.

Jessie recently passed away at age 13 due to incurable cancer. Here he is memorialized as a piece of art!

Fusion Pet Art make sense, let me explain! This type of art is a several step process. First, I paint a picture – an abstract picture. Colorful and free for constraints. Once the painting is dry – I then scan my paintings using an every day high res photo scanner and turn them into digital files. I then “fuse” using a process I call Selective Image Layering whatever painting I see fit for the picture of the pet that I am working with and create a piece of high resolution mixed media art. The final medium can be anything from paper to fabric with any type of canvas having the most intense texture. All of my art is 100% one of a kind and cannot be exactly recreated. Seeing your pet in this artistic light makes everyone smile and certainly a great way to remember your loved one. This is also a great conversation piece for your home.


Brandi Fitzgerald is a Philadelphia based Photographer & Artist. She successfully overcame her fear of dogs by meeting a very special Jessie and learning how innocent dogs are. She started a Pet of the Week contest on her blog where you can win your own piece of Paintographic Fusion Art of your pet. She is looking forward to meeting your pets!

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About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi spent her time working in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions.

3 Comments

  1. I was raised with the no fear & was exposed to animals the minute iI was born by my Grandfather. The bigger the dog the better!
    Unfortunately my younger sister wasn’t and at the age of 5 was attacked by a German Shepard. To this day she has a very strong & firm fear of large dogs. Unless she is around the dog & introduced to it as a puppy she wants nothing to do with them. I have seen her introduced to very friendly large dogs who are gentle giants. But to no prevail the fear runs deep & I have been unable to find anything to help the problem.
    To make matters worse her & her husband had a small 20 pound mutt when my niece was born. When she started to crawl & went for the dogs treat the dog bit her. INSTANTLY the dog was given to her husbands ex-wife.
    Obviously my nice is fine & wasn’t affected by the event but I just hope that her mother does not instill the same fear factor in her. I want my niece to see the good in dogs of all sizes as I do & be able to work with me & eventually take over my pet sitting business.

    Shannon Cole
    Shannon’s Pet-Sitting
    “Quality Pet Care in the Comfort of Their Own Home”

    PHONE: (847) 987-4322
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