Friday, November 07, 2008

Most Important White House Appointment: Chief Puppy

As the Obamas search for a rescue puppy to appoint as Chief Dog, they ought to check out some of the qualified candidates available on the website. Hypoallergenic breeds like Basenji, Chihuahua, Grayhound, Poodles, and Border Terriers are in good supply, though admittedly a bit harder to find at a rescue shelter. Kudos, though, to the Obamas for using their profile to champion shelter dogs. If I can get past my allergies to rescue a dog, it's not that hard; but to truly find a hypoallergenic mutt, you might ignore the breed and just test out dogs to find the right pet you can live with, which means spending some close time playing with and petting your intended pet and seeing what kinds of allergic symptoms you might have.

Keep in mind that it's not the hair, but the dander (i.e., dead skin) that you're allergic to. Though if you have dust allergies, the hair can trigger that as well. Mixed-bread dogs may produce different effects on you than pure breeds, and mild allergic symptoms can subside with constant exposure. I'm terribly allergic to some dogs. My allergen test gave dogs and cats a 4 out of 5 on my reaction scale. Yet my initial itchy eyes and sniffles when I was in close contact with Zoey pretty much went away after the first month, and I don't really have any symptoms now, unless I'm also in the dog training facility where there's just dog dander everywhere. So if you find an irresistible critter and after an hour playtime your symptoms are mild, this one could still be your baby, particularly if you're willing to accept that if your symptoms don't subside, the dog doesn't have to sleep in your bedroom. Frequent baths and good grooming also help keep symptoms at bay.

Then again, my brother's 5 ounce cat in just a few seconds makes my chest tighten to the point where I can't take another breath. If you or your child starts having a reaction like that while interviewing a potential pet, I'd say that could be a deal breaker.

Of course, any of these candidates for the White House would also be highly qualified for an appointment in your pet-friendly home, as well.





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