Being honest about giving away our dog.

I don’t know if it’s a Freudian slip, but over the last two weeks whenever I’ve sat down to write this post the title I kept thinking of was “Getting Rid of Our Dog” instead of “Giving Away.”

And that’s not how I thought that I thought about Daisy Mae, our pug we adopted in January of last year.

She’s cute. She’s SO easy going. She’s totally housebroken and easily learned our household routine. Her snores are totally adorable. She was a good fit for our family.

When we got Daisy Mae we knew that David was allergic to animal dander, but he showed no external reaction when he was around dogs, no hives, no sneezing, no rashes, so we figured he’d be fine. We thought with his food allergies and eczema under control we could loosen up a little.

But then David’s allergy blood test results came back. And my thoughts about David and a dog in the same house changed. His blood test showed a dog dander number that was through the roof. In terms of numbers it’s now his worst allergy. And his overall allergy level is up too.

I didn’t even need to speak to the allergist to know that he was going to recommend giving away our dog. Those numbers were so elevated they spoke for themselves, yelling at me from the computer screen that David’s internal struggle with immunogloblin E and histamines rages on.

There really was no choice. Here’s this thing his body, even if it’s just internally, is having a huge reaction to. No matter what that thing is, my job as a mom is to eliminate it from David’s life.

So, let’s say that without pronouns: my job as a mom is to eliminate Daisy Mae from David’s life.

Less than a week after David’s blood test, Daisy Mae was no longer our pug. Extended family decided to take her. And almost immediately the coughing that I thought was just a part of David’s baseline asthma stopped. Actually, I want to be really specific about this. I want to prove that we did the right thing here. The day that I deep cleaned, trying to rid our house of as much dog dander as I could, David’s breathing was awful. The next day he cleared up. And he hasn’t needed any asthma medication since then.

So, we did the right thing. Obviously he was having a reaction to our dog, but I just didn’t see it for what it was. There are just too many things that can cause similar symptoms.

 Backtracking a little bit chronologically … Telling David we were giving away our dog was hard. For the second time in one week I knew I was going to make David cry. First was the blood draw, and now we had to tell him that we were giving away Daisy Mae.

We decided not to tell David the whole truth about why Daisy Mae was leaving. I’m afraid to tell him that his allergy is the reason why we gave away our dog. I’m afraid that he’ll hear us say, “You’re allergic to Daisy Mae,” but what he’ll understand is, “There’s something bad about you that forced us to get rid of our dog.”

He’s five. I don’t know that he possesses the mental and cognitive skills to understand a complex situation like this.

So, we told him that this family member needed Daisy Mae more than us.

For a week or so after those initial tears when it was time to say good-bye, he didn’t say anything about it. But the next week, this week, David has asked me twenty questions a day about Daisy Mae.

This morning he finally asked me a question that begged for the truth: If we gave Daisy Mae away because someone needed her more than us … when are we going to get another dog?

I took a long sip of coffee while I thought about that and said simply, “We aren’t going to get another dog. Maybe a turtle, but not another dog.”

But I don’t think that’s going to be the end of it. David’s got the questioning glint in his eye and nothing I’ve said so far has made it dissipate. I think as parent-team we might need to have another discussion about this tonight, just Chris and me. I’m wondering if my push to omit the truth with David isn’t causing him more harm than good. I’m wondering if David’s just too smart and curious for the path I wanted him to go down.

Because at some point we’re going to have to tell him. I mean, we can’t hide it from him forever that he’s allergic to dogs.

I thought I was hiding the truth from him to make it easier for him. But I think it could very well be that I, myself, didn’t want to spend any more time with the reality of the situation. I didn’t want to be the bad guy. I didn’t want to talk about allergies any more.

I think the reality could be that David has a much great desire and capacity for the truth than I gave him credit for.

One comment

  1. Carolyn Russell says:

    Oh man, what a tough situation! (And I HATE that coughing can be a symptom of just about ANYTHING! It’s what I do when I’m having allergy problems, and apparently it’s what Nathan does when he’s having reflux issues. Oh, and it’s also that thing that EVERYONE does sometimes when they’re getting sick. So, how do you troubleshoot a cough??) I’d imagine it would be nice, at least, to see such concrete evidence that giving away Daisy Mae improved his health, but that still stinks :( Maybe you can stick with the story about giving her to someone who needed her more, but then add on that you’ve noticed he doesn’t cough or need medicine when there’s no dog around, so his next pet can be something without fur? So it’s more of a, “I noticed something after the fact” and less of a “You’re the reason why we did this”? Good luck, guys! Keep us posted! (Parenting is HARD!)

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