Fun fact: I suffer from one of the most common, yet also most devastating, first-world ailments.
I’m allergic to fur animals.
I don’t go into full-on anaphylactic shock or anything, but when I’m exposed to animal dander for a while, I start itching. It’s like suddenly it’s allergy season, but just on my face. I can’t pet-sit for people with fur animals or even stay at their houses. Every time I come home from someone’s house with a fur pet, I pop some Benadryl and immediately throw my clothes into the wash. Out of all of the irritating allergens I could have, why did it have to be pets? Why couldn’t it be actual disgusting things like rush-hour traffic? Or people who don’t tip? Or mushrooms?
Imagine a world where you can’t retreat from the humans at the party to hang out with the cat in the corner. Terrible, right? But here’s the thing…I don’t actually stay away from pets or people who have them. Quite the opposite. I love cuddling with pets!
I’ve loved animals ever since I was a kid. Family members always had them, so I was very used to interacting with different animals. When I was 10, my parents agreed to get me a dog of my own, and Dixie was a beloved family pet until she passed away a couple of years ago. Of course, as a 10 year old, I annoyed her enough that she didn’t like me too much when we both grew up, but as long as I had the treat bag in my hand, I was at least tolerable.
Dixie was a hair dog. My parents and I all have allergies to different things, so we thought it better to get a hair dog than to risk it, especially considering that I always came home from other pet owners’ houses red-eyed and sneezing. Most people don’t have hair animals. They don’t think to buy a hypoallergenic pet if they don’t have allergies themselves. As much as I would like to think that the world revolves around me, no one seems to include me on these important decisions. Rude.
Regardless, I just can’t pass up the opportunity to play with an animal. They make me so happy. To me, being itchy is a small price to pay to be able to cuddle with floofs. Hell, I feel the exact same way about flowers. I may be snotty for a few days, but I just can’t turn down a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Some things are just worth the suffering.
Usually when I’m leaving someone’s house after thoroughly cuddling their pet, they remark that they thought I had pet allergies. Their eyes get wide when I tell them that I do, but I’m just happy to go home and take a Benadryl if that means that I can play with an animal. At least their pet doesn’t live with me!
I also indiscriminately love both cats and dogs. Like the tea vs coffee debate, I like both! Just like I love the calming effects of curling up with a kitty and some tea, I also love the jittery effects of a romp with a puppy and a latte. Like the girl in the Old El Paso commercial, I ask you, “Why not both?”
And not to be that guy but pets usually enjoy playing with me, too! Even when I walk into a house and their owner warns me, “don’t be offended if they don’t interact with you, they just don’t really warm up to people for a while,” their pet usually climbs into my lap within minutes. Sure, the one time this happened, we found out that the cat was being affectionate because it was in heat, but that still counts, right…?
That being said, I’m all about waiting for a pet to come to me. I always offer a hand for them to sniff and let them decide if they want to be pet. If they do, great! We’re already buds! If they don’t, I leave them be. Honestly, I can’t blame them, I don’t really want to be around me either!
That’s what I hated most about dog yoga. As yoga practitioners who love dogs, Dan and I went to dog yoga in the back of a brewery. For those of you unfamiliar with dog yoga, it’s…exactly what it sounds like. A dog shelter brings dogs who need to be adopted and lets them run free.
But they can’t actually run free, because everyone is grabbing at them, and the shelter workers keep dragging them to people. I understand that they want to get the dogs adopted, but I’d be just as happy if one came to sleep on my mat or lick my face in down dog. I’d much rather have a dog choose to be near me than to be forced in my face. Especially the tiniest puppies — they were so overwhelmed, it hurt my heart.
Being allergic to fur animals is rough because I need Benadryl after every visit anywhere with pets. But at the same time, it also might not be the worst thing for anyone living with me because I have no self control, and this allergy means that I can’t take every pet that I see on the street home! So I guess for right now, I’ll just snuggle with the stuffed animals that I have. Not as much fun, but a lot less mess…
Photography by my talented fiancé. You can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hope_grows_here/