Oh man! When I was pregnant with my son, it was hard enough…he wanted to bring me to an early grave. And then he was born and tried to go to his early grave…But we made it through ALL of that just to find out he was allergic to life. Pretty much everything. INCLUDING the family pets.
Now, perhaps you have not met me in person—so you may not UNDERSTAND the enormity of this situation.
So, let me clarify how serious this diagnosis was…
At first, when we finally went to have him tested at 13 months old, I assumed we would get the diagnosis that he was allergic to cats, much like his dad. And this was not going to be a big problem for me since we didn’t have any cats. My husband has a hard time even breathing around cats, so it was likely we would NEVER get a cat. But my son kept having problems around animals, so we thought, since we were testing him, we would find out for sure.
We told the doctor, “Test him for cats!”
And the doctor said, “And we’ll test him for dogs, too.”
“Um, okay…” we said, not taking this testing serious since no one we knew was allergic to dogs.
BUT THEN THERE WAS MAX…
And sure enough, “You son doesn’t have an allergy to cats, he has an allergy to dogs!”
Okay, to be honest, i heard that he had a peanut allergy and milk allergy and … SAY WHAT????!!!! A dog allergy?!
This, in my world, is an IMPOSSIBLE allergy to have.
What you need to really hear…like from my heart…is that I had at that moment 2 actual children and 3 other babies—and those babies were my DOGS!
One dog was the same age as my daughter…and, for the longest time, it was only my daughter and that dog (Sierra—a beautiful, gorgeous, lovely, hyper and ever-so-bothersome bumbling GIANT SCHNAUZER). For 6 and 1/2 years, I had Adelyne and Sierra. I had no other children but those two. ONLY those two. And they were lovely and beautiful…and I know one was my actual baby—but the big dog was my second. Max came 3rd, you know.
So when I heard the diagnosis that my dog was an allergy for my son, I did not know what to do.
I approached the doctor, “So, um…I have 3 dogs…AND I LOVE THEM AND THEY MUST STAY…What should I do?”
I am sure the doctor has seen many reactions before—including reactions to people finding out that their beloved family pets were causations of allergic reactions, so he seemed unfazed by my panic.
“Listen,” he said, “I can’t tell you to get rid of your dogs. What I am telling you is that your son is allergic to them. Now what most people don’t realize is that while many people are allergic to the dander of cats, many are allergic to the saliva and urine of dogs. So, as long as your son does not have breathing issues or you keep the dogs from licking him, you will probably be okay.”
You have no idea how the relief of knowing that I would be okay (which meant I would probably get to keep my puppies) made me feel. Super good.
So we left the office with Epi Pen instructions and warnings to stay away from a huge list of milk-related words (that we still can’t pronounce) and every tree nut warning with occasional other things that I just can’t keep up with it all (just kidding—I try hard, it is my son’s life, you know)…and I decided to see if this doctor was spot on in regards to the dog or just a quack 😉
My sister has two dogs: one hypoallergenic dog and one Boxer. Max could lay all over them. No problems. Hmmm…perhaps the doctor was wrong?!
My mom and dad, one also hypoallergenic puppy, Lick, lick, lick! Jump all over him.
Welting of eyes and face. Sneezing.
Okay…Doc was not a quack. And right.
And so I paid closer attention—how was his breathing? No problems? No problems. Phew!
So, what did we do?
We had to wash his face and hands with soap and water, give him a dose of an allergy medicine to help with the welting/swelling, and then teach my son to not let little adorable puppies lick him all over his face.
THIS IS A HARD THING TO TEACH.
You see—what kid DOESN’T love a dog? All kids love dogs! (okay—most).
My son loves his dogs. He thinks that they are the cat’s meow 😉 Seriously—he thinks they are the best inventions next to potato chips (which, if they are salt only, he can eat).
And, since they do not cause him any breathing problems, we have had to work with our son over the years, since finding out about his allergy, that he can love dogs…he can love on dogs…but he needs to not let them lick him. He needs to not rub his eyes after touching them. And he needs to no let them sit on him/or his chair.
On top of all of that, we have had to leave our dogs mostly outside, and we also, when they are inside, have taught them that they have a corner. It’s not an option…It’s a must.
When I notice him rubbing his eyes slightly more than normal or sneezing a bit out of the ordinary, I realize the dogs have snuck out of their corner and into his realm of the world. Where I then have to vacuum and clean his chair (where he sits in the living room) and admonish the pups to their corners again.
Okay, just kidding…they don’t get admonished—but they are retrained to stay out/off of the living room furniture and carpet.
It’s hard to take man’s best friend away from man—but, when you are allergic to said best friend, you do have to find ways to keep that best friend AND your child healthy at the same time.
It is possible—as long as there are not breathing problems that go along with it—to do.
And, so, we get to keep our pets — even with our Allergy Kid Max!