Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The dog dilemma

On a recent trip to the park, Will and Owen and I were walking along a path when both boys noticed a couple approaching with a large dog on a leash. Owen started pointing and exclaiming “Dog! Dog! Dog!” with unfettered joy. Will, meanwhile, hid behind a light pole in fear.

On our way home from the park, Will said, “Mom, I wish I were Owen because then I would love dogs.”

Will, who does love his aunt’s poodles, has been gradually developing a big-dog phobia.
When a big friendly dog comes bounding at Will, eager to play, Will starts shrieking. Our latest big dog incident came in Colorado, when about 3 seconds after we walked in the door of my cousin Emily’s house, Will saw her big friendly dog, Juneau, enter the room. At the mere sight of harmless Juneau, Will jumped from his chair in fright and impaled himself upon his cousin Max’s play fire station, giving himself a bloody lip in the process.

So Rob and I began wondering if we shouldn’t go ahead and get the dog we’ve been thinking of acquiring sooner rather than later. To acclimate the kid. The only problem is a couple years ago Will was diagnosed with a minor dog allergy – in spite of the fact that we’ve never owned a dog. So if we get a dog we need to either get a strictly outdoor dog or go the way of the Obamas and select a hypoallergenic breed.

I’ve been reading more over the past couple nights about these supposedly “hypoallergenic dogs” and to a certain extent, it seems, the whole concept’s a myth. While dogs that are smaller and shed less do seem to create fewer problems for people who are allergic, all dogs produce allergens and it’s hard to predict how an individual will react to any particular dog. Here’s a New York Times article on the subject along with a little a little blurb from about.com.
None of this bodes well for my dreams of getting a shelter mutt and Rob’s dreams of having a big dog like the golden retriever he had growing up.

I’m half inclined to take Will back for the pin-prick tests on the off chance he’s outgrown his allergy. Otherwise we may just need to abandon our plan to welcome an indoor dog into our family and buy ourselves a hypoallergenic iguana.

Anyone have advice when it comes to dogs and allergies?


shannon said...

oh- my 3 year old asked me if we could get a dog for the first time a couple weeks ago. It was so thoughtful, the way he asked. He was acclimated by my Dad bringing his crazy lab over here for dinner once a week. Jenna bounds in the house and has been known to knock a couple people over by running and jumping on them. I'm horrible when it comes to this-- I act like my kids just need to be tough and tell them "it's okay, Jenna just loves us." But we all know the drill, now- we freeze and bend our legs a little to absorb the shock of her hello when we hear them coming.
My kids won't help me feed the two cats and we don't have a fence so a dog is not in our picture, yet. I wish. . . .
good luck!

Annie Addington said...

Yeah, it would probably help Will believe my "they're just friendly and want to play" speeches if he could hang out with a big dog once a week. I like the idea of coaching him on how to greet a big happy bounding dog -- stand still, bend the legs slightly and get ready for the fun... I'll see how that suggestion goes over. He's got a playdate tomorrow with a friend with big outdoor dogs.