Today we were visited by a 5 year old boy who is terrified of dogs. He walked into our livingroom with his parents, who were passing through our area on vacation, took one look at Murray, and started screaming and crying. I took Murray to another part of the house, and asked his mom what the problem was.
It seems that last year as he was walking in the park with his mother, they witnessed a pit bull attack a man and his dog. The man was yelling for help, and our friend ran to her car to get her cell phone to call for help, but not before the little boy witnessed the dog attack in which the man was badly bitten and his dog's ear almost torn off.
So we all sat in the kitchen and Murray snoozed behind a puppy gate- after about an hour, the little boy walked over to the gate and sat down, and Murray lifted an eyelid and thumped his tail a few times. I asked Matthew if he would like to give Murray a treat. He said no, but watched me give Murray a dog biscuit. After another fifteen minutes he asked me if he could give Murray a treat. I said sure, and after that we took the gate down. Murray ambled over and lay down next to him, and Matthew started petting him.
His mom said that was the first time since the attack that Matthew has been able to be relaxed around a dog. We've arranged another visit so that Matthew and Murray can spend a little more time together.
somewhat related side note (not trying to hijack): my dad is a clown and has had this happen a bit since there are a lot of people afraid of clowns. A mother contacted my dad's office after my dad did a program at her daughter's school. The little girl during the program was terrified and the mom wanted her to get over this. The little girl ended up coming into my dad's office a few times and helped him put on his makeup (and put some on herself) to see that clowns are regular people just in makeup. The little girl ended up being an extra in a clown video my dad made. It is oh so important whatever the fear is to try to break the fear carefully.