Until about age 15 or so, they hated me. On sight. As in I could make most dogs attack me simply by looking at them. There were exceptions, of course, but throughout my childhood, there were several bad incidents with dog attacks. My grandparent's dog attacked me when I was about 4. A small Jack Russel, I think, or a Beagle mix. Bit my face pretty badly, and ripped up my chin.
The worst had to be when I was about 10. I was walking home from school when I passed by a older guy guy washing his car across the street. Next to him was a very wet, large, black lab. The second the dog saw me, he got that familiar stance of back legs down, teeth bared, and the hair on its spine rose. The guy looked at him, looked at me, and said, "Aw, he's just being protective, he don't mean no harm. He wouldn't hurt anybody--"
But before he finished the word "anybody," the dog lunged for me, snarling. I don't recall exactly how it happened, but he ran across the street and I barely got my arms across my face when the dog grabbed my skull and twisted me down to the ground. I heard the guy screaming the dog's name in horror. Something like "Shep" or "Skip" or something. I could feel the dog's hot breath, and that wet dog smell mixed with freshly cut grass. The dogs saliva was dripping all over me as it grabbed a part of my arm and dragged be for about a foot, then let go, and made another attempt for my face. That's when he got hold of the skin around my chin, and held fast, trying to drag my head out from around my arms. Those huge, rough feet and nails scrabbling on the sidewalk, growling until it gave a yelp, and the owner was beating him with what I think was a plastic bottle of soap. He grabbed the dog by the collar and screamed his name with the kind of shock and desperation, and that's when part of my chin just tore from the muscle with a tear I couldn't hear, but it felt like when you peel an orange. Then the dog let go, and I scrabbled up to my feet and just ran.
The guy shouted after me, saying he was sorry, and he could call an ambulance. His voice was heavy with shock and regret. He was begging me to come back, saying his dog had never done that before, and he was sorry, and he wanted to look at my face, but all I could do was run.
When I came home, my mother was shocked at how bloody my face was. There were huge teeth marks in my chin, and my hair was matted down with blood and sweat. My chin was swollen and purple, and I had an almost comic chin like Popeye. I told my mother a dog attacked me, but it was hard to speak and for some reason, I thought the dog had torn my tongue (my tongue was actually fine, I guess it was the swelling of the chin). My mother at first wanted to know what dog and who, and I didn't know, and I told her where it was. Later that night, she said she drove around with my father and didn't see "a large black dog." Then she asked if I hadn't fallen down and thought it was a dog (really, my mother said things like this ALL the time, even when sober). After a few weeks, she was convinced I had fallen down and made up tall stories. My chin swelling went down, and in the mirror, it did look a lot like road rash. It was hard to chew for a while, and the scars eventually faded when my acne scars started to dominate that part of my chin. Eventually, you could only see the scar if I made a certain kind of face (and even now, not so much).
And now you know why I have the beard where I do.