Belle-the Scaredy Dog

I have an English bulldog named Belle, whose spirit is personified (dogified? caninified?) by fear. Despite a compact, muscular body, stout legs and jaws that shear through leather like a heated knife through ice cream cake, she is… well… a mite skittish.  We first began noticing this trait when she was a pup. (And, yes, we’ve raised her from the time she was first able to leave her mama’s side, so she has definitely not been abused. She has no excuse.) One night, my then eight-year-old daughter decided rather than take the long journey upstairs to her bedroom to get her pajamas, she’d just grab one of her daddy’s t-shirts. When she came into the family room wearing the floppy, shin-length shirt, Belle took one look, transformed herself into a flying squirrel and landed in my lap.  From there, she burrowed behind my back and quivered. Despite lots of cooing and reassuring, she remained convinced that something evil  had swallowed our child whole and would certainly eat her, too, if given the chance.

Belle also has a thing about hats. Any hat. Apparently hats have the power to so transform the human body as to be utterly unrecognizable. Hats (and their now hideously mutated body) elicit screams high-pitched barking and require lots of darting and dashing in circles around the furniture, so as not to let the hat-beast-man corner and, of course, eat her, if given the chance.

Let’s not discuss thunderstorms. Or semi-trucks. Or the nice Amish couple who drive by the yard in their horse and carriage. Bikes are worrisome.  Birds are unpredictable. And sometimes Belle’s daddy smells like gasoline and this is not to be trusted.

Belle simply cannot handle the unknown. She has no faith in her own abilities to deal with anything.  Insecurity paralyzes her. Uncertainty sends her in dizzying circles.

For years, I was afraid to sit down and tell the story I had inside me. I was, and still am, a voracious reader, and at some point an idea for a mystery occurred to me.  An “I wonder what would happen if…” started a chain reaction of deliciously twisty plotting and character building. All in my head, of course. I was afraid to put it to paper. Afraid that it would be stupid. That I couldn’t really do it. That my writing would suck.

And then, when I was pregnant with my first-born and all swollen with fat baby (and water—you shoulda seen my ankles!) and consumed with wonder at all of the possibilities the world would offer this little one, I realized how badly I was cheating myself. How could I teach my child to face his fears if I didn’t face mine? Was he going to learn the courage to risk failure by watching some inspirational Disney movie? How would he ever know that it was okay to not be certain?

So, in one of those “suck it up, buttercup” moments, I sat down face-to-face with that awful blank page and wrote my first book. And it sucked. Of course, it did. It needed to be re-written. Several times. And edited.

I discovered that facing that first fear—that “who am I to think I can do this?” angst—created a resolve in me to see this thing through all the way. It hasn’t been a smooth journey, but it’s been a richly satisfying one. 

Now, if I could only get Belle to accept hats. Oh, the world that would open up for her!


Author: donnawhiteglaser

Donna White Glaser is the author of The Letty Whittaker 12 Step Mystery series. Like her main character, Donna is a psychotherapist and lives northwestern Wisconsin. As if that weren’t enough, she and her husband own a residential construction company where it’s Donna’s job to deal with any overly emotional, what-do-you-mean-you-can’t-put-roof-trusses-up-in-a-thunderstorm? clients. Strangely enough, she often comes up with ideas for creative murders and hiding bodies during business hours. Currently she is at work on the fourth Letty Whittaker 12 Step Mystery-THE BLOOD WE SPILL. Donna would love to hear from you via her website at or on Twitter: @readdonnaglaser.

14 thoughts on “Belle-the Scaredy Dog”

  1. Okay, the mental image of the dog is hilarious. So not what you’d expect of an English bulldog.

    As for the rest, are you, like, my psychic twin? I wrote when I was younger. But then I grew up and it became, “Why are you wasting your time with that, you’ll never actually be able to do it.” So I stopped – for over 10 years. It took getting fire to have my “hey, what have I got to lose” moment. Based on where I am now, getting fire might have been the best thing writing-wise that ever happened to me.

    Great post!


  2. Mary,
    I wouldn’t wish getting fired on anyone, but I’m glad it brought you to your dream. I wonder why it takes such drastic things to get us out of our fear cave?


  3. I love English bulldogs! Never owned one. I grew up with boxers. I did add an English bulldog named Winston to my novel that is just up for pre-orders. I always thought that’s what I’d name one.
    We do have cats who are afraid of vacuum cleaners. One day last week, Wizzie had a double dose of a big, huge hot air balloon landing in the open space behind our house. “It ate the sky,” he told me. Then the vacuum cleaner came out. Oh, horrors. He hid somewhere and it took us a couple of hours to find him.
    Happy birthday to Kristi!


  4. The image of a scared English bull dog is priceless! Here’s a thought: put a hat on Belle and show her a mirror. Or is she afraid of her own reflection too?

    Isn’t it funny how we can recognize silly fears in others but not quite wrap our brains around our own fears? Glad you confronted yours!


  5. Theresa, I grew up with boxers, too! I love the smushed faces. And thanks! I’m glad I faced that particular fear, too. At least it wasn’t clowns.


  6. Great post! Our dog (a Corgi) has a thing with hats too. It’s like she thinks you’re removing part of your head or something. Love dogs, even when they’re being fraidy cats.


  7. Aw, Belle sounds sweet. (Our last dog was afraid of carpets at first and would try to get around the house not walking on them.) Love your tale of seizing the day…so glad you did!


  8. Okay, did I somehow miss Kristi’s birthday? A belated happy birthday!

    Donna, I think those “big upheavals” have to happen because we get comfortable where we are, even thought it’s not exactly where we want to be (at least it is for me). In my case, I’d been at that job for over 12 years. I got a good salary. It wasn’t the work I wanted to do, but walking away from the security/paycheck was daunting. So I guess the universe thought I needed a little push. =)


  9. Love this! I want video of Belle. Our late German Shepherd developed a late in life fear of thunder, and tried valiantly to fit all 80 pounds of herself into my lap or, better yet, to hide herself behind me on the couch (where she was not allowed) when storm came through. Belle sounds awesome, and I’m so glad you met that fear head on!


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