Some of you may remember me mentioning that my daughter wanted a hamster. She has been saving her money and working hard to earn it for the past three months. She held a cupcake and lemonade sale, she cleaned bathrooms, she dusted blinds, and helped regularly with dishes and cleaning up toys. She earned $80, and she was ready to spend it.
We trekked to the pet store and began our research. What do hamsters require? Would a guinea pig be a better pet? After we looked at some hamsters and guinea pigs, we saw the cats. Now, she and my husband are allergic to cats, but we fell in love with them and made an insane choice: we told her we could get a cat. We went back and looked harder, petted some, and planned our expedition on adoption day. Then, we got home and began dealing with puffy, itchy eyes, runny noses, and hives. It was my husband who then declared our insanity and put his foot down.
My daughter immediately burst into hot, frustrated tears. Even as she rubbed her eyes and swallowed her Zyrtec, she cried for a cuddly pet, preferably a cat. We tried to console her with other options. (Apparently, she’s allergic to hamsters and guinea pigs, too.)
“How about a snake?”
“Turtles are cute!”
“Oh wait, I know. I know! A pig. A little pig! Your aunt Haley was obsessed with those a while ago. They are totally cute.”
After a quick search on Google, I read that pigs are super intelligent. This sounded promising. Pigs have bristles, so no allergies. Check. Pigs cannot regulate their own body temperature and must have a water or mud hole to roll around in. Ewwww. Pigs like to root up carpet and may reach at least 50 pounds. No way.
We were back to square one.
I asked my Facebook friends for their suggestions. One person suggested the old standby: goldfish. Been there. Done that. My daughter is so not interested in more fish. I had a better relationship with our fish than she did.
Others suggested hypoallergenic dogs. Apparently there are several options, yet my mom had one and its saliva always caused Olivia to break out in large welt-like hives. The Obamas have an allergy-friendly dog, a Portuguese Water dog (I believe), as their daughter Malia and Mrs. Obama both suffer from pet allergies. This sounded like a good option for us. If the first family can handle a dog, so can we. Then I remembered that they live in the White House, have help, and probably never have to sleep with, touch, or see the dog if they don’t feel so inclined.
We have also gotten some suggestions for a Siberian cat or a Russian Blue cat. I found a Siberian in our local classifieds, but it had been sold before I called. Apparently, it was the only one in our state. And before we try this, we must actually meet one, pet it, walk away, and hope that eyes don’t start swelling and noses don’t start running.
So, we found a Russian Blue cat at a shelter about an hour from our home. (It was also the only one of its kind in our state.) We spent Saturday traveling there and playing with it. The first thing it did was bite my husband. Then it tried to scratch everybody. Wow. What a friendly cat.
We also left the shelter with allergy symptoms for half of us. However, because the room in which we met the cat was covered with dander from hundreds of other cats, we have no way of knowing if that breed was less allergenic to my husband and daughter. The other option for one of these cats is to buy one from a breeder. They run upwards of $500, and that is much less noble than saving an animal from a shelter.
Another friend on Facebook suggested that I give Olivia a baby brother instead. So many people started liking her comment that I had to rebut. I wrote: “I’m allergic to babies.”
So we are at a stalemate in our home. My husband and daughter are allergic to cats and dogs and hamsters and guinea pigs (and anything else that’s cuddly). My youngest daughter is allergic to sleep, good behavior, and eating green vegetables. I am allergic to babies, cleaning up messes, midnight feedings, poopy diapers, and exercise.
Yesterday, a neighbor asked Olivia how her quest for a hamster was going. She explained the saga to him, but then proudly declared, “But we’re getting chickens instead!” Huh?!?
So, what are you allergic to?