According to Google, I’m a monster.
Well, that’s one of the first results that comes up when you search “people that don’t like dogs”.
While everyone around me is happily patting doggos, tagging each other in puppy memes and dreaming about their future dogs, I’m part of the rare breed whose tail doesn’t wag at the faintest sight of the four-legged creatures.
And one day after Bring Your Dog to Work Day, I'm finally speaking out in solidarity of others who feel the same. (Please tell me you're out there? Hello?)
Let me explain.
I never grew up with dogs - or any pets. Few people I knew had dogs either, which meant I was never really exposed to them as fun and friendly creatures.
I don't remember my first encounter with the furry animals, but I do recall when I was about nine years old and the Great Dane who moved in down the road (ironically called Tiny) getting overexcited as a group of us played in the street and jumping up on its back legs, towering over my then three year-old sister. I stood still, my feet firmly stuck in the cement, absolutely petrified, unable to help.
What followed was years of my sister and I having a real fear of dogs. We became the people that dog lovers absolutely hated. If we went to a house that contained a dog, our parents would have to request that the dog be put in another room before we would even consider entering.
Listen: When did dogs become equal to humans? Post continues after audio.
It's not just dogs though - I'm just not an animal person in general. I've spent years sitting in fear that any pet cats will come slinking towards me. I hated with a passion when it was my turn to look after the school guinea pig over the weekend. I was rubbish at picking up the rabbits my sister eventually got as she entered her early teens. And don't get me started on the crippling fear I feel when I go to the zoo.
I'm a lot better than I used to be. I'll happily (well, at least be ok with) have dogs running around me, even giving them a little pat. I'm even on reasonably friendly terms with dogs of some of my best friends. Cats generally keep to themselves around me and yes, I cried in Marley and Me.
I'm not completely soulless - I can appreciate an adorable dog picture or two but I'm missing that gene or trait that sees me coo uncontrollably anytime a dog passes me by.
It's a lonely existence. A dog is man's best friend after all. Hiding my indifference or faking my enthusiasm for them can be exhausting and the fear that people will judge me when they discover my true feelings for their beloved pup haunts me constantly.
Only those who know me well - and for a long time - can understand the reason why I won't be the first one to walk through the door of a household with a dog or who can detect the wobbliness in my voice as I make a joke about being totally ok with a strange dog jumping up at my table trying to get a taste of the food on my plate.
The place that threatens to expose the facade? The office.
Tomorrow is #bringyourdogtoworkday - so that means the alarm is going off at 3am tomorrow for me AND our beautiful Maggie! We think she's starting to show some progress in her rehab...and tomorrow after 7am on @thetodayshow you can check out how she's going. #boxersofinstagram #boxerpuppy #boxers #boxergram #boxer @boxersofinstagram @boxerdogcentral @theboxerworld @boxer.lover @boxer.daily @channel9
Fortunately, my colleagues' dogs have all been well behaved and yes, relatively adorable when they've spent a day in the office. But that doesn't quite block out the shock I get every time I feel an unexpected furry touch under my desk or the heart attack I get when I miss stepping on the freshly laid dog crap on the floor by less than a millimetre (yes, this really happened).
Listen: Dogs, pay rises and much, much more. Post continues after audio.
I'm not asking you to hide your dog away or stop bringing it into the office - just for doggo-lovers to be aware that not everyone feels the same as you do. That we might not might feel as honoured to have a dog jump up on as as we walk through the door or bark away non-stop.
So on behalf of the silent minority, I'm just asking for a bit more consideration. And please don't set the dogs on us.