My daughter loves animals. She adores dogs and is neither here nor there when it comes to cats. One day we’ll get her a fish… since she seems pretty capable of taking care of her brother’s while he is at school. Anytime we go to visit a friend or family with a pet she inevitably turns to me and asks, “When can I get a doggy, mommy?” And, unfortunately, my response always has to be “never.”
Now, before you get upset with me, you have to hear me out. I don’t dislike dogs. Maybe haven’t been a fan for most of my life due to a scary encounter as a child, but I’ve warmed up to them in the last five or so years and don’t mind being around them when I visit friends. And, I love how sweet and caring my daughter is with another person’s dog or cat. My issue: my husband is crazy allergic to cats and random species of dogs.
There isn’t a single home we can visit with a cat or dog that doesn’t cause an allergic reaction with sneezing, shortness of breath and dermatitis (itchiness on the skin). Cats are the worst for him. He can tell if a house has a cat the moment we walk into a house. His eyes start to water and then the sneezing begins. Soon thereafter he starts to have trouble breathing and has to go outside. When we were apartment hunting during his training, we would have to make sure the previous tenants didn’t have any cats or dogs because, no matter how well the place was cleaned, there was always something left behind that would cause a reaction.
Dogs are hit or miss. And, yep, we know about the hypoallergenic dogs. Those actually tend to be worse for him. And, forget any dog that sheds a single hair. As soon as the hair or dander hits my husband’s respiratory system he is done.
So, this minor allergy (I say minor loosely) poses two bigger issues for our family.
First, my daughter’s strong desire to have a dog of her own. Because of my husband’s ‘hit or miss’ reactions to different dogs we don’t really have a strong idea as to what exactly causes his reactions to some dogs and not others. Some serious research would be needed on our end before investing in a dog that may or may not cause a reaction.
Secondly, how the heck do we have a social life if we can’t really go anywhere where there are cats and/or dogs? Some of our closest friends and family have pets. And, we don’t really want to avoid them. My husband always takes allergy medicine beforehand, but that tends to make him drowsy. The other alternative is to hang outside and hope no one thinks he is being antisocial. More often than not we just invite them come to our house. Problem there is, the dog/cat dander gets tracked into our house. And, they are always having to come our way – which isn’t always that close. We can always meet at a third party location. But then things get crazy with kids running around and the get together ends up being more stressful than relaxing.
And then there is always the family issue. If family is visiting and they have pets we have to find an alternate place for the pet to stay. The other option is to say ‘no’ to the pets coming inside the house. Talk about an uninviting situation! If we go visit family with pets my husband tries to ‘tough it out’ for the sake of not being rude. But, at what point do you stop sacrificing being comfortable for manners?
So, what’s a momma supposed to do in this situation?