Bringing Home Puppy: Dog Allergic

#allergictodogs #dogallergies #puppy #newpuppy #fate

This is probably the blog post most people want to read about: how an allergy-prone family has a fluffy puppy living in their home. Honestly, it’s still mindboggling to me. With over six weeks under our belt, I can finally write about our experience.

In Bringing Home Puppy: Nesting, I talked about my kids’ severe dog allergies, and how we were taking a possibly heartbreaking chance attempting to adopt a “hypoallergenic” puppy. If one of the children had reacted poorly to the pup, that was it, our one shot at having a dog in the home was gone.

We left the first morning of spring break to make the six-hour drive to Tennessee. We’d arranged to meet the breeder halfway at 10:30 a.m. I packed for our trip the night before, then took an hour nap on the couch before leaving. By 4:15 a.m. the van was loaded with excited kids. Thankfully, hubby drove most of the trip so I could catch a few Zzzzzs here and there. I was both excited and worried.

It was an easy drive until we hit rain. We decided to meet the breeder at a rest area with covered picnic areas. We arrived first, donned in rain coats. The wait was excruciating, so the girls and I paced the fence flanking a nearby farm. CowIMG_20180402_103734563s came to moo and check us out while the rain pelted down. I watched every vehicle that turned off the expressway. Finally, a car pulls up and a lady pops out leading a beautiful white pup. She heads right for us, saying she figured we were the ones hanging out with the cows.



Full NAID. Gorgeous girl!

We met the first pup as planned, the full NAID (Native American Indian Dog). We spent some time with her; the kids walking and petting and playing with the pup. The adults watching for allergic reactions. My eyes kept wandering back to Tonto, walking in the grass with one of the breeder’s family members. From watching videos and studying pictures of him, I felt certain Tonto was fated to be our dog. His quiet, calm way and soulful eyes reminded me of someone I’d lost not too long ago. MY POPPY

The rain picked up and we moved under the protected area. The kids washed their hands and arms, then we met Tonto (“White Collar” at the time). He was sweet and seemed cautious, but comfortable. Soon, he started to loosen and move his tail. We petted him as he brushed past our bare legs. We waited. And then, my son showed me a couple of small, raised hives on his wrist. My daughter, the one who started our puppy search way back in the fall, admitted that her palms felt itchy. At this point we weren’t sure which dog they’d reacted to. The cool, pollen-damp air didn’t help either; all of our noses were dripping. We had gotten so close to owning a puppy, only to be confronted with the heartbreak I’d feared so much. ☹

The kids washed up again. Knowing that only the white pup had licked them, we continued on with our Tonto visit—having the kids hold the pup close and bury their faces into his coat. We talked over our options and waited and talked some more. The breeder agreed to meet us later in the week if things didn’t work out. Emotionally, I knew that returning the pup would be a lot harder than walking away in that moment, but I had this feeling that us adopting Tonto was meant to be. We had to try.

So, we signed the sales contract and said our goodbyes to the breeder. By one o’clock, we were heading down the highway toward the clear skies of Virginia. Tonto curled himself between my two girls and napped. It took us a little over six hours to get back home. The entire time, I heard not one cough or sniffle or sneeze.

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The next couple of days were busy with puppy care, but I was watchful for any allergic reactions. My son did get a couple of small hives on his wrist after being licked, which resolved with soap and water. I kept in touch with the breeder because someone was interested in giving Tonto a home if we couldn’t. It was only fair to the pup that I take him back immediately if I knew things weren’t going to work out. Fortunately, that never happened. 😊

For a puppy, Tonto is very affable and calm. Not much of a licker or biter. And no shedding—only a few “Tonto dust bunnies” here and there. He lives in the house, sleeps on the couches, rolls around and plays with the kids. Other than the initial contact hive episodes (which could have been related to what the pup had ingested recently. we have food allergies, too), our allergies are the same as always. Pollen season was probably not the smartest time to trial bringing a pup into the home though. But honestly, I see no difference. No drainage from noses/eyes, sneezing, or asthma. Skin issues/eczema are the same. And, no, they have not outgrown their dog allergies; both kids still react to other dogs. I can’t explain it, but my children are tolerating this puppy beautifully.

We took our time researching. This breed may not be the answer for other allergic families, but for us, I’m so thankful we took the chance. I’m a very careful allergy mom, so this was a HUGE leap of faith. Beyond huge actually! And to prove that he fits in perfectly, Tonto was recently diagnosed with pollen allergies (eyes).

Bringing Home Puppy: Nesting


The little guy we’re meeting!

Nesting. Some may not know that term. My ninth grader didn’t, so I explained what it meant to “nest.” To prepare for the arrival of a new little one. The washing of tiny onesies and stocking up on wipes. Some to-be moms clean as well. I was always more into the shopping and preparing of things though. This time is no different.

But there is no baby joining our family. No. Those days have long past for this momma of four (knock on wood). We are bringing home a new puppy soon! The crate has arrived. The snacks and food have been researched and secured. Leash, check. Bowls. Blankets. And my youngest has found her calling in picking out dog toys. Hence the need for a nondestructive toy bin ASAP.

We are an allergy-prone family, so this new addition is HUGE for our family. Between us, there’s asthma, eczema, food allergies, latex issues, and a plethora of environmental allergies. Enough to keep us buying Nasacort and Allegra year around. Two of my children are allergic to dogs. Most every dog. This has been an issue of sadness, not only for the allergic ones but the non-dog allergic as well.

My oldest daughter started researching “hypoallergenic” dog breeds many months ago. I tried not to encourage her, knowing that allergens are found in more than just the fur. In time I became cautiously hopeful, yet still doubtful, watching her search from the sidelines. Eventually, I was doing my own searching and asking of questions. From Goldendoodles to standard poodles to schnauzers, we considered them all. Greyhounds even. None seemed like a perfect fit though.

Then my daughter suggested a breed that I’d never heard of: Native American Indian Dog (NAID). I googled for pictures and was very suspicious. The dogs were/are beautiful, stately even. Compared to the breeds found on most “hypoallergenic” dog lists, there appeared to be a mistake. The NAIDs—and off-shoot varieties like the Native American Shepherd (NAS)—have a dense coat that is either short or long-haired, supposedly shedding only once a year. The discovery seemed too good to be true.

Evidently the NAID is a newer breed, a kind of designer mix to resemble what native dogs of America looked like long ago. Online there seems to be some contention about what those long-ago dogs did or didn’t look like. But I wasn’t too worried about all that. We just wanted a dog that would work within our family. Something we could love that was fluffy and cuddly, but tolerable allergy wise.
Some NAIDs have a wolf-like appearance, but they have the same wolf lineage as any regular dog. Alas, some breeders of wolf hybrids, or wolf dogs, are possibly using the NAID name/resemblance to more easily sell hybrid pups in states where wolf dogs are illegal. Always check out a potential breeder extensionally.

By mid-February, I’d started reaching out to breeders and people who actually owned NAIDS. The testimonials regarding allergies were all the same. Something magical started to happen: the impossible seemed possible. Maybe. At least it seemed worth the risk of trying: heartbreak and disappointed kids.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of finding a NAID in need of a home at a shelter is probably next to zero. There aren’t many breeders of NAIDS in the US. After more research, I settled on a NAID breeder about eleven hours away. I liked that she didn’t plaster a hypoallergenic guarantee on her website. Being an allergy mom for so long teaches you that there are no guarantees. What works for us may not work for other dog-allergic families and vice versa. Our breeder was just as cautious. We exchanged many emails, texts, and lengthy phone calls. I felt confident my family was on the right path. Having allergies in her own family, the breeder understood our dilemma and was willing to work with us in our pursuit of puppy ownership.

There’s a chance our puppy won’t be coming home with us. If one of the kids react to the dog, it’s all over. The dream shattered. We all know this. It’s THE thing we all know but keep hidden just behind hope. I want the hypoallergenic claims to be true, but we shall see. I’m an optimist, but still, wishful thinking cannot change everything.

While waiting for the big day to arrive, we’ve watched our puppy grow quickly through photographs and videos. I believe it’s possible to grieve something or someone you’ve never held. Love is a tricky thing. So even though nesting is underway and travel plans have been made, we might come home with empty arms. Pickup day will either be one of our family’s best days ever or one of the most disappointing. I keep this fear folded away and focus on researching the complexities of new puppy decisions. Collar or harness? Shot schedules. Rawhide or nylon for chewing?
Stay tuned! Updates to follow.

Human Trafficking

A few months back, my book club’s theme for the month was Human Trafficking. I’d been hearing more of trafficking in the news lately, as most people have. It’s the latest crusade among many celebrities. However, I didn’t fully appreciate the depths of those words, “human trafficking,” and what it could mean on a microscopic level, until I read several books on the topic. I’m bereft at what I’ve come to know.

This insidious beast, some call it slavery, snatches up the youth, either in a literal kidnapping or beguiling its victims into servitude. The use of humans for the benefit of others is not a new concept. Perhaps, I’m overwhelmed that we as a society, have yet to evolve enough as beings to recognize the audacity in allowing slavery, in any form, to continue. Without a doubt, this will not be an easy battle. However, awareness is the beginning, and that is happening!

I wrote a poem, “Shame.” It represents only one facet of trafficking; for it hides many faces. In my poem/story, I wanted to show that what appears to be a choice, could actually be the tragedy of circumstance, and ironically—lack of choices. And, ultimately, the message is: without the malicious need for bodies, there would not be profiting made from the supply of human beings. The shame is in the circumstances, the failure of protection, and the eye of society that looks the other way when culpable “Johns” purchase a young soul.

“And thereon every child I met, who has been violated and abused I made sure the child understood that he/she is the one who is wronged and being a victim is not something one should be ashamed of.”
~Sunitha Krishnan

Below are the three books discussed during book club that month. If pressed to choose one of the three to read, I’d recommend A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison. It is fiction, threaded into a compelling, quick read that pulls you into the story and keeps you there, while exposing the various heartbreaking, real-life scenarios and aspects of trafficking. Please learn more, and be aware!



Add words into your child’s daily life . . .

A couple of years back, I decided to add a “word board” to our already cluttered kitchen wall. A nice visual to gaze upon over a bowl of morning cereal, reminding the kids of school. Although, I still read aloud nightly to my children, it’s not enough to combat the increasing infiltration of electronics insidiously creeping into our home—and the school as well. So, with a discarded, glass-less frame and some purchased dry-erase backing, I made the board you see here for less than five bucks.


I began by adding, or updating, two or three words weekly. It wasn’t long before I was scribbling meaningful quotes, mantras, or scripture as well. I want to foster kindness, empathy and other attributes amongst my children, and I believe words have the power to do that. (For a short time, I added a Spanish word-of-the-week, but this didn’t go over so well.) While the weekly “word board” talk about philosophical meaning and/or the definition discussion isn’t mind-blowing, it is often engaging and usually near the mark. Regardless, they are thinking!

Honestly, my kids now seem acceptingly indifferent to the board, and have come to expect it to be updated regularly. Of course, they don’t recall the meaning of every word that’s been presented, but many words, especially those that we’ve made everyday connections to, have become part of their vocabulary. And that, makes it so worth it!

What’s their all-time favorite word? Insolent: it is heard quite often here 😉