Growing Up – White Fright

Today, even though I have walked away from a head on accident prior to seat belts and air bags, heard the zip of .308 bullets fired over and around my head, slid and fell down a steep canyon wall only missing a 200 foot drop by inches, lived through 5 tornadoes, been in the eye of 4 hurricanes and survived a 120 car, fog bound, pile up on Beltway 8 outside of Houston, through all of that you’d think that fear would only be a word that I just use! However, when I go into a doctor’s office, I experience a terrible case of “white fright” my blood pressure goes up twenty to thirty points, my heart rate up twenty beats or more per minute and I have even fainted while getting a shot in my arm and, just think, all of this was caused by a dog bite when I was 5 years old.

As I was running outside and the door slammed shut, the last words I heard Aunt Myree say to me were, “Jon Howard, you be careful and don’t play with that dog!” “That dog” in question was a terrier mix and my aunt and uncle, Myree and A.C. Turner, had it on a leash, attached to a clothesline in their backyard because it had been acting funny. Their backyard was in Huntsville, Texas, one block off of old Highway 75 and my mom, dad and I had gone up to spend a weekend with them and their two, young sons, Bill and Roy Peyton, known then as “Bubba”.

Once outside, being five years old, the first thing I did was go right up to the dog and try to play with it and it responded, not very playfully, by jumping up on my chest and biting me! The dog went for my throat, but because of its restraints could only jump to my chest. Inside I ran bleeding and crying, not caring about all of the “we told you so’s” heaped on me.

The biting event occurred on a Saturday morning and the first thing Monday the dog was euthanized and my uncle took its head to Austin, and sure enough, the dog was rabid. My family got the results on Thursday and Friday morning found me and my mom and dad in Dr. Talley’s offices, in the old Medical Arts Building, in downtown Houston, for the first of 22 rabies shots, spaced around my navel, timed every other day. It was the biggest needle I had ever seen, and thinking back, it must have had one or two ounces of an unpleasant looking, green serum.

The shots saved my life, but by the third morning, I resisted the shot so bad, that before it could be administered, it took 4 adults to hold me down with me being only 5. This went on for the next 19 shots and scarred me forever.