Monday, May 18, 2009

A canine rant

Before you start reading, be forewarned: the following is not a happy how to bake article. It is a full fledged rant. From a slightly deranged mama who is frustrated frequently by misconceptions about allergies.

I admit: I have never been a dog person. Really, they are too high maintenance for me. Feed me, walk me, play with me, let me in, let me out, clean up after me, bathe me. That's what kids are for. Except children eventually begin to take on each of those tasks themselves. The dog? Not so much.

Cats, those are my pet of preference. Low key, easy to maintain. Put out food occasionally and they eat as needed. (Rather than inhaling the entire contents as if it may vaporize if left in the bowl longer than 72 seconds.) Change the litter box regularly and be done. No poop hide and seek in the yard. I have always had house cats, so there is no in and out dilemma. And you get the occasional snuggle and happy purr, low key affection to show you are loved. You can leave them alone (and uncaged) for a weekend and be confident that you will return to an intact home- shoes and all. It works for me.

My husband? Not a cat person.

We were both strangely relieved when we found out that our oldest daughter was allergic to cats and dogs. We would never have to duke it out as to whether we should get a pet, and what kind. Pets? Maybe a fish... someday. When the two year old can understand that she should not share her cheerios with it, or give it an extra jar of fish food just because. And that fish swim alone. No need to get naked and jump in. Really.

We understand that there will be no furry pets in our house.

Here comes the ranting part... there are no allergy free dogs. Barack Obama advocated getting a dog by doing it himself. Here is an intelligent, well educated man perpetuating the misconception that there are hypoallergenic dogs. Very publicly breeding the idea that people with allergies just need to seek the right kind of dog. We have long sought to help people understand there is no safe dog. Unless it's stuffed. And the wise and esteemed leader of our nation just acquired a dog for his allergic daughter. So it must be ok. And now we work twice as hard to overcome the myth that some dogs are safe for people that are allergic. It comes up more often now, along with the opinion that we haven't tried hard enough. And that we are over stating the severity of the allergy.

Aaaack! Yes, some dogs are less likely to set off major allergy attacks for those mildly allergic to dogs. They will still be allergic to the dog. What if it's short haired? Hairless? Surely she would be ok with a hairless. Um, no. It still has skin. And saliva. Most people with pet allergies are not allergic to the hair, but to the dander. The skin that naturally sheds and flies willy nilly about the house, sticking to whatever it should land on. Walls, lamps, furniture. And vacuuming? Nice thought. When is the last time you vacuumed the curtains, walls, lamps, and everything else from floor to ceiling? Dander goes everywhere. Everywhere. And when you walk across the room, you can kick up a fresh cloud.

And the saliva. How many dogs do you know that refrain from kissing their owners? Yes, you can be allergic to doggie saliva. Many with dog allergies are. (And the urine too. Heaven forbid the dog should pee on the slide. Even if it dries before the kiddos go down the slide, the allergens remain. Nothin' like an itchy bum.)

I realize that many people see their pet as a member of the family. They love them. I'm good with that. If you have a pet, you should treat it like family and love it well. I get perturbed though, by people that think it is appropriate to take the dog everywhere. The doctor's office. Shopping. The airport. The library. Craft class. Everywhere they go. Your pet is yours. Take it on a walk. Take it to the park. Take it to the vet. Take it to the pet store. Sure.

But please don't bring it into our space. Not at the doctor. You're sick, not the dog. Not craft class, dogs aren't so good with scissors. Haven't seen a dog read yet, so maybe not the library. If he needs company then STAY HOME and play with him. He'll like that better.

So many people think I am over reacting. I get that look. You know the one. The one that says "Yeah, whatever." I offend people by turning down invitations to visit their home because they have a dog. Yes, I appreciate the offer to put it in the basement while we visit. No, we won't be coming. Unless you shampoo the carpet and furniture, paint the walls and ditch the dog. Yes, I'm serious.

Recently my niece brought over her leap pad game system, complete with big bag of game books and matching cartridges. She had moved up in the gaming world and would not need these, so was gifting them to my munchkins. How awesome. Ten minutes after beginning to play with them, my daughter was covered in hives. That's right! My niece had a dog. Had. It died 4 months before they brought the games to us. There was enough dander remaining on the games to trigger an allergic reaction. Benadryl and a bath for her. The remainder of the evening for me was spent wiping off every page of every book, inside and outside of the gaming system, and every cartridge. (Throwing them away would have caused too much heartbreak.)

So, no, I am not a maniac. Yes, my daughter is severely allergic to dogs. Feel free to come to our house and play. We still like you. We just don't love your pooch. No offense.

1 comment:

  1. I found you b/c you found me on Twitter (Gravity of Motion). I have to say that I hear you on this one. It is such a difficult thing. We moved not too long ago (well, I guess almost 2 years ago) and when we go back to visit friends, we can't stay with some good friends of our because of their dog. We did it once and my son, who is allergic to dogs and has asthma, had a terrible time. I know that our friends are still our friends but I also sense that they are jealous of the friends we usually stay with. This is difficult. But, we can't - just can't - spend prolonged time inside their house. It is hard to turn people down but it is harder to make your child suffer.
    Just commenting to let you know I understand.


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