No dogs allowed. My adult household has been pet-less since the beginning. While I was lucky enough to share my childhood with Pepe the Chihuahua, I married a man who is violently allergic to anything with fur.
No dogs allowed. My adult household has been pet-less since the beginning. While I was lucky enough to share my childhood with Pepe the Chihuahua, I married a man who is violently allergic to anything with fur. His allergies can also trigger his asthma, so “people only” has been our house rule for the past 17 years.
And then, a few years ago, our oldest child became utterly obsessed with dogs. Not only does she love them, but at 9 years old, Abby knows more about canines than Pepe ever taught me. Yet she also knows Earl is allergic, and agrees that having Daddy around is far more important than having a dog. She showers her affection on Valentine, the latest in a series of betta fish we’ve adopted to keep her company.
Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, when we invited a friend over for dinner. Said friend has a schnauzer-poodle mix, which we welcomed into our yard for a visit. Abby was enraptured, and all three kids enjoyed playing with Pike, petting her and generally packing all the love they could into her brief visit.
When dinner was ready, our friend was concerned about Pike being outside by herself. I gently reminded her that we couldn’t invite her in because of Earl’s allergies, but I said I’d check with him. Earl must have been feeling expansive, because he granted Pike a one-day pass, and something four-footed crossed our threshold for the first time. I worried that a trip to the ER would be in our future.
Pike was in the house for the better part of an hour, but no one sneezed or wheezed. It had to be the miracle of the poodle, a breed that is known for being hypo-allergenic or close to it.
The wheels started turning in my mind. A few days later, over our morning coffee, I gently broached the subject with Earl. If a dog, such as a poodle or poodle mix, could be found that wouldn’t bother his allergies, would he ever, ever consider adopting one? He offered a cautious yes, with the caveat that we’d have to be absolutely sure.
But how could we be sure? Having Pike inside for a few minutes was fine, but that’s not the same as long-term exposure to a different dog. I wondered if we could ever “borrow” a dog that was up for adoption, but that seemed unlikely. Then, a volunteer at our local animal shelter suggested that we obtain some poodle hair and have Earl put it under his pillow at night.
Now, I’ve heard of teeth going under the pillow. I’ve even heard of Little Leaguers (mine) sleeping with a new baseball glove under the pillow, to break it in. But poodle hair?
Poodle mania knows no bounds. Fully aware that it sounded ridiculous, I put out the call to a groomer friend of mine, who promised to save a lock from her next poodle customer for us.
While we’re waiting for part of a poodle pompadour, I’m covertly checking Petfinder.com and poodle rescue sites. I’m eyeing our backyard fence, noticing gaps at the bottom for the first time and wondering how we could make them poodle-proof. Inside, I’ve found the perfect corner for a doggy bed, and I’m already thinking about how our walks will get me out of the house and give us both some exercise. I can see my new curly-haired faithful companion keeping me company while I write.
If we do adopt a dog, I might even consider sharing it with Abby.
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The Patriot Ledger