March 5, 2014

a doxiepoo and allergies

 This post is about our fluffy new dog, Mila, and what we did when the husband's allergy doctor said 'you should never get dog, ever'.

Getting a dog was a huge deal for me and the husband, but for two completely different reasons. I grew up with dogs and I wanted to have one eventually, but the husband is very allergic and was obviously not as convinced. After a lot of discussions we decided to do a test run and either foster a dog or adopt a really low-shedding one and make sure the rescue would accept it if things didn't work out.

We realized it's difficult to find low-shedding breeds that need a home nearby. Most were Shepard and Pit-Bull mixes and most rescues refused to consider us because we don't have a fenced yard. I get the fence thing, but it's an unfair requirement and I still get angry about it. Anyway, one day sometime before Christmas, I got a call from my previous boss who told me his wife had rescued a dog from an abandoned house in Camden. The dog had everything we were looking for, female, young, small, and seemed to be a low-shedding poodle mix. The next morning, we drove to meet the dog and took her home with us, it was meant to be! She had been in a crate for days without food or water and her fur was knotted ... it was heartbreaking to see such a cute little dog abandoned.

She obviously needed a haircut and a good bath. I knew it would be a pretty short cut but I wondered what she would look like when it grew out a bit. I googled 'poodle grooming' and found some pretty hilarious cuts:


I don't know, I'm loving 'Cupcake'! I told the groomer to keep it short since she had a lot of knots, and to keep the ears a little longer so she doesn't look too shaved down. Here she is after a fresh wash and cut:

Now that she's not a huge fuzzball, we think she's a 10-month old Dachshund-Poodle mix, a.k.a. Doxiepoo or Doodle. We both obviously fell in love, but the husband's allergies were still the main concern.

What we did:
- The husband has been getting allergy shots and continues to get them.
- Got a heavy duty air purifier for our first floor and leave it on 24/7.
- Got a Dyson and make sure to vacuum at least once a week.
- Dust and swiffer all hard surfaces about twice a week.
- Didn't allow Mila upstairs, which is carpeted, for the first month.
- I wash her once every 2-3 weeks and brush her once a week outside.
- Slowly introduced her to the upstairs, from minutes to hours at a time.
- Eventually moved her crate upstairs to sleep overnight.

The results: 
- The husband went from constantly using his inhaler the first two weeks to not needing it at all.
- He avoided holding her in the first month and now can hold her with no reaction.
- She is in her crate overnight in our room and the husband has no allergic reaction.
- If she licks his hand he gets a rash, so he makes sure to wash his hands.

We did everything we could to keep the dander to a minimum and our efforts weren't for nothing. I did a lot of research and was hopeful, but I'm still really amazed how quickly the husband was able to hold her and not have an allergic reaction. We're glad we proved the doctor wrong, because neither of us would even consider giving up Mila now. It may be pretty cliche, but having a dog has taught us a lot. We knew it would be a huge responsibility, we can't just go do whatever we want, whenever we want because she needs to be fed and walked, so we're definitely learning a lesson in selflessness. I also noticed some really great things, like spending a lot more time outside going on walks, always keeping our home tidy since she likes to chew things, and personally, learning to not take life so seriously. She chewed up my fav boots? Oh well stuff happens, Nordstrom will take them back. While I learned to chill out, the husband learned that he actually loves dogs (or maybe it's just our dog).

How can you not love seeing this face every day?
(And here's a bad phone pic of her most recent hair style ... yes, she's as fluffy as she looks.)