Monday, May 10, 2010

Allergy Sufferer ≠ Animal Hater

Last night Cary and I were looking for suitable pets for me.  Turtles and fish seem to be my only options.  I have very bad allergies.  If it's fluffy, cute, cuddly, or just simply mammalian, I am allergic to it.  It's not just that I get sneezy around dogs or cats - I break out into hives, my throat starts to close, I wheeze, I sneeze, and my nose runs like a faucet around any animal that people typically enjoy.  I went to Amish country once and took a nice horse and buggy ride: ALLERGY ATTACK.  I went to the circus: ALLERGY ATTACK.  Renaissance fair: ALLERGY ATTACK.  You get the idea.   The sad part is that I really like animals.  I would love to cuddle with a kitten or play with a puppy (whoa, alliteration) but my body won't let me.  Pet lovers do not always understand this.  Oftentimes, when I tell people that I'm allergic to their beloved pets, they look at me as though I just said I wanted to eat Fido for dinner.  They look offended and skeptical: how could this girl insinuate that my adorable kitty would hurt anyone?
I am not insinuating that.  I love your pet, but I'm simply trying to save you a trip to the emergency room.  These are some of my favorite responses from people when I tell them I have allergies and can't stay long in their house.

"It's OK, I just vacuumed."

Oh vacuuming! Why didn't I think of that? Unless by "vacuumed" you mean shaved and genetically re-sequenced your pet, then it is not OK.  You may have bought me 5 extra minutes of breathing time in your home, but if you think that you are the genius that realized the cure for allergies was vacuuming you are in for a world of disappointment.

"It's OK, Fluffy is hypoallergenic."

I have said this a million times: just because your pet doesn't shed as much as other pets does NOT mean that he is hypoallergenic.  I don't care what the dude at Petco said, I will still break out in hives if that animal comes near me. 
"It's OK, Rex is such a good dog, he won't bother you."

I would like to make this perfectly clear:  I do not blame your pet for my allergies.  I blame my overactive immune system. I blame God. I blame bad luck. Don't look at me like I accused your pet of murder. I know it's not its fault, and I'm sure its lovely and smart and does awesome tricks, but I'm still allergic. If Rex is really such a good dog, then he will understand that it's nothing personal, but my body hates him.

"It's OK, my dad has allergies and he's fine around Gloopy."

This one is the hardest to deal with.  People suddenly because experts because they know someone who has been "cured" of their allergies by their magical pet. They assume that I can be cured too, or that I'm just faking since allergies can simply be warded off by certain special creatures. I'm very happy for your dad/mom/brother/etc. I'm glad they overcame whatever watered-down version of allergies they had - but my allergies are not their allergies.  Mine are serious, so I'm sorry if I look distracted during your testimony about your miracle pet.  My immune system is attacking me and fighting imaginary toxins, rendering me incapable of focusing on how your dad was cured of his sniffles.

I'm sorry pet lovers.  I'm just jealous and bitter that you get to cuddle with fluffy lumps of happiness. I'm just looking for a little understanding.


  1. I'll be your pet Jen. I'm cuddly and unconventionally cute if that counts. If you need me hairy and soft, I'll stop shaving and start using a conditioner that makes my hair feel as soft as the snuggle bear makes blankets and towels look in his commercial. Watch a snuggles commercial and then replace yourself with him and the towels with me and watch yourself bounce happily. (careful though, imagining this can turn out both very awkward and very dirty. That's not what we're going for.) If that's not good enough and you need something fluffy looking and cute, I think it's still possible to purchase a tomagachi or giga pet

  2. re: allergic reactions to amish country, circuses, and renaissance fairs...maybe it's not the animals you're allergic to. -sara

  3. re: allergic reactions to amish country, circuses, and renaissance fairs...maybe it's not the animals you're allergic to. -sara