June 26, 2008

Pet Project

Mia loves animals. She's an equal opportunity animal lover but she has a particular fondness for dogs and cats. Last night, for instance, I was summoned into her room a half hour after she'd gone to bed and asked to locate the stuffed dog that usually resides on her bed. We have two cats that regularly hang out in our back yard - a white one she's named Stormy and a black one she calls Pretzel. No clue how she came up with either of the names. She tells us she used to have a cat named Callie (which she did, very briefly) but Callie dived (her word for died) but not to worry, she'll get better soon (we're still working on the concept of that death thing).

Unfortunately for all of us, Mia's allergic to both dogs and cats. And she wants a pet. This leaves us with a conundrum shrouded in an enigma wrapped in a fluffy tortilla of mystery. What kind of pet do we get?

There are, of course, the tried and true options like guinea pigs, mice and hamsters. I kinda like chinchillas but know absolutely nothing about them. We could go the fish route but they're not cuddly and usually end up floating upside down. Then you have to have a little ceremony, flush them and explain the concept of death (or diving) once again. Reptiles could be fun but they're also not cuddly. They might also freak her out. Frogs could be cool but Mia might be tempted to free them in the backyard pond with their cousins.

So once again I turn to you, oh faithful readers, for advice. What kind of pets did you have as kids? And what should we do about a pet for Mia? By the way, don't suggest a horse. Beth has some strong feelings about horses, none of them good, as evidenced by her latest art project.

Posted by Chris at June 26, 2008 7:30 AM

For someone Mia's age, I'd say a chinchilla over a hamster or a guinea pig. I've had a chinchilla, and I have hamsters now. Hamsters can be quite tempermental, as two of mine are very bitey. One hurts, the other just nibbles, but OW. I never have had a chinchilla bite me, and they are VERY soft and cuddly. And they're pretty docile animals.

If you want some hints and stuff about chinchillas, I can help out. =) We had ours for a few years, before it got stung by a bee and died. =(

Posted by: secha at June 26, 2008 7:55 AM

Well, there ARE low-allergen dogs and cats. The hairless types (which can be kinda ugly, if you ask me) and some with short, low-shed haircoats. You may look into that option--research it on the internet and talk to your doctor and vet. My cousin has horrible dog allergies but she lives fine with some little dog (don't know the breed) with really short hair and low dander.

The boys had a hamster--it was mean and they couldn't play with it. They have an aquarium, which they LOVE. But again, not cuddly. Guinea pigs are cool, but smelly. I have a friend that has hedgehogs, and they are awesome!

How about a rabbit? I always had a rabbit as a kid, and they were great pets. They lived outside, though, so if you're looking for an indoor pet I don't know about that.

Posted by: Alissa at June 26, 2008 7:55 AM

My FIL wanted a pet but lives in a place where dogs, cats and most pets are not allowed.
He's got a tortoise called Shelly ha ha
They're fab!
Pol x

Posted by: Pol at June 26, 2008 7:58 AM

I don't know if it helps, but I'm allergic to most cats and many dogs, but I get along swimmingly with the cat my boyfriend had when we moved in together. She's a Ragdoll, excellent with children, extremely sweet and snuggly, very smart, fur like a rabbit, and the shedding isn't too bad.

In addition, this cat has completely won me over, and I don't even *like* cats.

No idea if that helps, but might be worth looking into.

Posted by: Caitlin at June 26, 2008 8:05 AM

Just dress up her little brother from time to time. Get him a monkey outfit or something from the Anne Gedes collection.

Posted by: William at June 26, 2008 8:13 AM

I've got a soft spot for rabbits, I'd keep them outside but I know you can have them as house pets too. An outside pet is maybe better for when Owen is crawling. I think you have to research your breed, whatever animal you get, we had a vicious nasty Polish Albino rabbit who looked very sweet, but apparently that breed is notorious for being mean!

Posted by: Katherine at June 26, 2008 8:13 AM

I was also going to suggest a dog or cat that were considered hypo-allergenic like an american hairless terrier, bishon frise, irish water spaniel, maltese, schnauzer.

cats well you can get that hairless rat like sphynx cat but if you want a nice looking cat the siberian cat produces less allergens than other breeds The average cat produces 63,000 micrograms of Fel-Dh1, it is estimated that the female Siberian produces approximately 200 micrograms of Fel-Dh1 per gram.

Posted by: Dee at June 26, 2008 8:13 AM

I'm allergic to cats and dogs and keep waiting for my kids to trade me in for a puppy... they want one *so* badly. However, when I found out I as allergic, a friend of mine (who is the biggest animal lover I know) suggested a bunch of different kinds of dogs - including whatever kind of terrier that was Toto in Wizard of Oz. We still haven't gotten a pet (besides my daughter's pet fish, which is harmless and fairly easy), because frankly, I'm not ready for all the work involved in training a dog - and it WOULD fall to me to do. Plus, my youngest got nipped by my neighbor's border collie last night, so I'm sure a dog is the LAST thing she wants at the moment.

Posted by: sarah at June 26, 2008 8:29 AM

When I was kiddo we had cats, three of them. Since I have been married w/ children we had an array of animals, first just a cat then we added a dog. Cat got out and was killed by the neighbor dog, still cant get over that and it was 11 years ago. We have had several rounds with fish - beta and gold. Reptiles are not allowed - ewe. We also had a guinea pig - but we found it very time consuming and MESSY to take care of so we gave it to one of the Catholic Schools as a class pet.

We have had Zoie, a Cocker Spaniel dog for 9 years. She is WONDERFUL and my first in the house dog ever. She cuddles more than our new cat, Sylvester - he just about 14 months so I'm hoping he gets more lovable as he gets older or fatter which ever comes first!!

I guess in Mia's case you are just going to have to try to see how her body reacts to the pet, even if it means having a back up plan of finding a new home for the animal if it didn't work out.

Posted by: Steff at June 26, 2008 8:38 AM

A poodles coat is more like hair than fur, right? Maybe it wouldn't set off the allergies?

We have two beagles, a 4 foot king snake, and a horse. My son might debate the idea that reptiles aren't cuddly.

Posted by: COD at June 26, 2008 8:51 AM

Don't know how they are on the allergy scale but how about a ferret? They're cute and cuddly.

Posted by: Jennifer at June 26, 2008 8:52 AM

I've recently been introduced to reptiles that are very, very cool. I've always wanted a chameleon but they eat live crickets and, while I am not opposed to feeding live insects to a reptile, the last thing I want is a cricket escaping in my house. You can never find those things! The blue-tongue skink (I think that's what it is) that I've met is very friendly!

Oh, and I've heard that rabbits can also produce some hefty allergens, so you might want to avoid them.

Salt water fish are mighty cool. It's a boatload of money up front and, if you do it right, it will take a while to get established but it's awesome to watch it mature. And pretty fish, too!

But what do I know? I'm the crazy cat lady with 6 cats! :)

Posted by: Empress at June 26, 2008 8:55 AM

I second the ferret suggestion. I believe they are hypoallergenic, they are sturdy little buggers, and they can be let loose or caged up as your time/space/desires indicate.

I never thought I'd like them, but my sister had one for a while and it was very sweet and a lot of fun.

Posted by: Alias Mother at June 26, 2008 9:01 AM

I'm no help - we always had cats :)

Posted by: Stephanie at June 26, 2008 9:07 AM

Wow, no dogs or cats. Sucky.

Hamsters would probably keep her entertained, what with their endless wheel spinning and occasional squeaks of ... squeaking. Snakes are probably out, though.

Yeah, no dogs or cats sucks.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at June 26, 2008 9:07 AM

How about a dog with "hair"..instead of fur...like poodles? And I think a whole bunch of little dogs have this same type of coat. Bunnies and guinea pigs can also set off the allergies.
The good news is that sometimes people get used to the particular allergens produced by their own pet. I am now okay with my own, but still have an allergy attack at friends' houses.
Have you considered a Webkinz :-)

Posted by: diane at June 26, 2008 9:08 AM

Well, they do have hypoallergenic cats but I'm pretty sure that's not going to be the inexpensive route.

I love ferrets, but they are high maintenance. I bathed mine daily and they still can be a little oderiferous.

A really neat pet that some friends of mine have several of and that are also cuddly but have no fur to shed is naked mole rats. They are cute and smart and interactive.

Posted by: Holly Selden at June 26, 2008 9:19 AM

A close friend was cursed with severe asthma and an allergy to everything under the sun. Recently divorced over infertility problems she needed some companionship. She turned to her doctor for suggestions... he suggested a what he called a "tiny toy poodle" (purebred)she got one and is fine! Its been years too and this little thing is FAR from ugly, cutest little thing and I think the max weight on these puppies are 7lbs! Good Luck!

Posted by: elle at June 26, 2008 9:19 AM

I see the low-allergen dogs have already been introduced into the discussion. I haaate poodles though. You shouldn't get a poodle! (As if I have any say in the matter)

I don't know if anyone introduced the "labradoodle" (I hate that name) to the conversation, but I've heard of a lot of people with allergies getting along well with them. But again, I don't know how allergic she is.

Growing up, I've had cats, lizards, frogs, hamsters (like 40- those things *breed*), and dogs. Far and away, dogs were the greatest. However, I looooved my hamsters. They were allowed to be in my room, they were tiny, they were mine. But! They do bite. It's not a huge thing, and they should definitely be handled with gloves until they get used to human handling (cuts down on the blood).

Posted by: Caleal at June 26, 2008 9:21 AM


it's the pretty rocks in the tank that make it aweseome.

I'm digging the art.

Posted by: crookedeyebrow at June 26, 2008 9:25 AM

Guinea pig I guess. I hear they are great animals and very kid-friendly. Google "Textel Guinea Pig", click the first link, and then look at the picture. I warn you, you will probably be on the next train to the pet store. I asked for one for Christmas but I got an iPod instead, damn you Santa! Damn you and the sleigh you rode in on!

Posted by: Mymilabean at June 26, 2008 9:27 AM

Avoid mice and gerbils. They bite and constantly jump out of your hands. Hamsters are a little more tamable, especially if you get a male. I don't know much about guinea pigs, but I think they're a lot like hamsters.

Posted by: Amy at June 26, 2008 9:36 AM

Oh please don't get a rodent. It will end your marriage, as Beth will hate having to clean up after it all of the time. Trust me, I worked in a pet store for years and I know all about rodents! Get a cat. I mean start with a kitten and work your way up. I think one of you is allergic to dogs, so the kitten route is the way to go. I think Mia would enjoy something she can cuddle, without it pooping on her. (rodents poop on you!)

Posted by: Maribeth at June 26, 2008 9:36 AM

When Mia is a little bit older (like 4 or 5) you might consider getting her a pair of rats.

Before you freak out on me, hear me out.

Rats make AWESOME pets. The average rat has the intelligence of a three year old kid. They are friendly and bond strongly with their people. Rats are actually cleaner than cats, you can feed them almost anything, and they are super-interactive. They also come in lots of pretty colors. Boy rats especially will snuggle.

And if you call them African Ferrets or Norwegian Bald-Tailed-Squirrels, all your friends and family will love them too.

Hamsters are mean and boring. Mice STINK.
Guinea pigs are cool but a little boring. They make cool noises though. Chinchillas are also pretty cool, I also don't know a lot about them.

Posted by: jessica at June 26, 2008 9:37 AM

There are many breeds of dogs that are non-allergenic. Poodles and many of the poodle mixes. Keep in mind smaller dogs are more difficult to housetrain, although we have friends that have litter box trained their poodle mix.

I've wanted a hedgehog for the longest time! They are so cute! What about that duck that Beth has always wanted?

How about a madagascar hissing cockroach? ;)

Posted by: Lisa at June 26, 2008 9:52 AM

We've got a hypo-allergenic dog. If there's a way you could borrow a dog like mine for the day to see how she does - it's what one of our nephews did. He didn't have a problem with the dog (and he's really allergic) so his family got one. He hasn't had a problem. It's something about fur v. hair and not as much dander or something. Anyway - the dog is a soft coated wheaton terrier. They're fantastic. Although, I'd recommend getting a female over a male. We've got several wheatons throughout the extended family and the females are more affectionate. I've heard there are other dogs that fit the bill for people who are allergic, but I have no experience with them.

Additionally, any kind of rodent or rabbit is a huge pain in the ass for the parent. They are a lot of work to clean up after. And they stink. We now have a ban on anything that requires a cage here because, um, they suck. And we've flushed many, many fish.

I can see how this might not have been helpful in any way. Bummer.

Posted by: sunshine at June 26, 2008 10:00 AM

My husband is a dog lover with an extreme allergy to dogs, but he gets along swimmingly with our labradoodle.

If you go the hamster route, Chinese Dwarf Hamsters are quite gentle. Just be aware that hamsters, gerbils, mice, most rodent type pets (I have no experience with chinchillas) are nocturnal and tend to run on their wheels all night long, so you may want to be extra careful about where you locate a cage.

Also, Pet Smart has a policy that allows you to trade small pets (for example, a nippy hamster)within a certain time frame if they don't fit well with your family.

Posted by: Susan at June 26, 2008 10:01 AM

Captain Stinky is horribly allergic to cats, which according to his allergist, also means he's allergic to rabbits by default (if you're allergic to one, you're allergic to the other, it seems). He's allergic to dogs too, but significantly less so. We started out with a miniature hamster because it's small enough to stay cute, and it's mouth is too small for it to really bite. It was a great starter pet! And watching it roll around in the ball used to make him cackle, which was totally hysterical!

Posted by: Sandi at June 26, 2008 10:01 AM

We have hermit crabs! We have had the same ones for over a year, keep them in a nice little tank, and are easy as pie to take care of. The girls love to watch them, bathe them, and feed them.

p.s. We had a chinchilla about 10 years ago.....for about 3 weeeks. Apparently, my hubby which is allergic to cats and dogs was also allergic to chinchilla. He sure was soft and fuzzy though.

Posted by: Jen at June 26, 2008 10:18 AM

I'd look into a ferret. They're not low maintenance and will probably require your help for care -- but they're very intelligent (almost as much as a dog), if well-treated are very gentle and fun. They can be litter box trained like a cat and taught a bunch of tricks (sit, stay, play dead) like a dog.

Downsides: they're a little smelly and require lots of attention and play. They're *very* social creatures and need a lot of love. They sleep like 18-20 hours a day but those other hours, they're very active. Oh, and they're thieves. They like to steal keys, wallets, socks and hide them. :-)

Posted by: Garth at June 26, 2008 10:34 AM

We have two allergic nieces, and the doctor suggested to them to get a whippet as a pet. They've had the dog for about 6 years now, and no problem. And..they are very nice dogs.

Good luck.

Posted by: cassie-b at June 26, 2008 10:34 AM

We have two allergic nieces, and the doctor suggested to them to get a whippet as a pet. They've had the dog for about 6 years now, and no problem. And..they are very nice dogs.

Good luck.

Posted by: cassie-b at June 26, 2008 10:35 AM

well, in the case of a dead goldfish, they kinda are DIVING, aren't they?

My niece at that age had a hamster she named Envelope. Envelope Hamster. I refused to let my child have a rodent as a pet though. Eww. And all those people suggesting ferrets? Keep in mind they're pack rats. They steal all your stuff and stow it behind the couch. The person who suggested naked mole rats should be shot at dawn.

I'm with the girl who said rabbits. I have no idea how practical they are but they sure are cute and cuddly and I bet you'd get some adorable photos of Mia & her bunny.

Ever since I read 'Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing' I always thought a little turtle would make a cool pet.

Posted by: kalisa at June 26, 2008 10:49 AM

We have a Shih Tzu...worlds coolest dog ever! He has hair instead of fur, and although the grooming can be expensive -its so worth it. He loves the kids and best yet, only 9 pounds...no shedding, doesnt bark(except on command)eats little...and if you get em young you can pad train them and dont have to walk them in the winter...:)

Posted by: shannon at June 26, 2008 10:58 AM

I have to agree with Jessica about the rats, they make excellent pets. They are friendly, trainable, and clean.
Ferrets are a good choice if you don't mind the smell.
And as many people have pointed out there are many breeds of dogs which are considered hypoallergenic. If you go that route please do your research because different breads have different temperaments, some not so great especially when you start looking at the smaller breeds.
As for reptiles, I am a huge fan but, with the little ones you might not want to go that route as allot of reptiles tend to be carriers of salmonella.

Posted by: Dawn at June 26, 2008 11:01 AM

I would've said try a bunny, but the prior commenters seem to have ruled that out. So, okay, there are breeds of dogs and cats that are not hairless (i.e., freaky/ugly) but either have hair rather than fur, and/or don't have an undercoat and therefore trigger fewer allergies. Mia (and anyone else in the house with allergies) should visit and pet these before making a decision, but here are a few: Airedale Terrier (no shedding); greyhounds (adopt a retired racer! they're great with kids, and you'd be doing a Good. Thing.); whippets, as noted above; West Highland White Terriers (Westies are adorable!); and check out the Portuguese Water Dog -- adorable! Many folks find they are less allergic to Siamese and Rex cats (and I'm sure there are others) or, if you want to drop about $4K, check out allerca.com for the cats that have specifically been bred to be hypo-allergenic. Good luck!

Posted by: shelley at June 26, 2008 11:26 AM

while i read this, i was trying not to kill my own cat and dog (the cat on the counter again and the dog eating the baby's toast out of her hand... again) so i'm probably not the person to ask. but i don't think chinchillas or reptiles are a good idea. have you ever thought of the hypoallergenic mix breed poodles? like a labradoodle or a lhasa poo?

Posted by: kati at June 26, 2008 11:27 AM

I'd give Mia some ice cream with a side of Benadryl and get myself a cat.

Posted by: GreenCanary at June 26, 2008 11:32 AM

Brandon's sister used to breed silkies bantam chicken (until we found out coyotes do climb chain link fence). They're like chicken made out of cotton candy! Cute as heck. They get along with the ducky too if you are still going with the duck for Beth.

My friend had a chinchilla and Bartleby was super cute. And soft. VERY soft and they're very clean. Another pair of friends had a huge cage/condo for their two ferrets.

Posted by: oakley at June 26, 2008 11:34 AM

The only pets I had growing up were mice. They are hateful little cretins and there were not very fun or cuddly. If you're going that route though, I would suggest rats, especially if you get them from someone who has handled them from birth. They have personality, they're curious, and I was never bitten by a rat unprovoked, unlike the mice.

Posted by: rai at June 26, 2008 11:36 AM

I was going to suggest a hairless cat. The Sphinx is really cool: it's a cat that acts like a dog.

If you're willing for a giant commitment, look into cockatiels and parrots. They can do all kinds of tricks, plus they make great pirate costume accessories. Don't know about the cuddling part...


Posted by: Mike at June 26, 2008 11:37 AM

Please, please, PLEASE not a rabbit. Some of them are EVIL. (Particularly, the two I pet-sat for when I was younger, one of whom scratched the heck out of me when I had to put him back in his cage and gave me scars all up and down my torso that stuck around for several years.) Plus, they smell awful and cleaning their cage is a total pain.

My friend has cockatiels and parrots. They are pretty cool, since they are trainable, and one she has is even sort of cuddly. (Well, as cuddly as something that small with a beak can be.) Some of them outlive humans though, so you have to take that into consideration.

Posted by: Stephanie at June 26, 2008 11:43 AM

About the poodle idea.... DON'T get purebred. They are expensive and have way more health problems. Also, the thing about poodles that I don't see anyone mentioning here is that poodles sometimes are not the best dog for kids. Some of them can be cranky and territorial. We had a toy poodle (about 10 lbs and 10 inches at the shoulder) when my brother and I were teens, and when you gave him a bone, he would snap and bite at the ankles of anyone who came near it. He had an awesome personality, otherwise. We had an apple tree, and he would ignore the apples laying on the ground, stand on his hind legs and pick the apple he wanted to eat right from the tree. He also did hysterical things with ice cubes.

Now, the second dog my family got, after I left home, was a "teacup" poodle, she was only about 5 lbs. She was very docile and timid, so she probably would have been fine with little kids. She also had no personality.

Whatever pet you get, make sure the personality and temperment will fit with your family. Some adoption agencies actually have programs that match your family's wants and temperments with that of the animal for the best match.

Posted by: Peggi at June 26, 2008 11:56 AM

My oldest daughter is allergic to all animals with fur especially rabbits. When she was at college we got a cat. He is a ragdoll, indoor only type of cat and she can barely tolerate him. A friend of hers has a rabbit and my daughter's throat almost closed up within the first hour of just visting with her friend and not even touching the rabbit.
Poodles are supposed to be good for people that are allergic.
I think I would just admire the neighborhood pets and keep putting her off.

Posted by: Peggy at June 26, 2008 12:15 PM

I've always had dogs and cats and various other assorted stuff like turtles, lizards, snakes, rabbits, etc.
Currently we have 1 dog, 2 cats, 3 fish, 1 crayfish that my daughter caught and wanted to keep, and a cockatiel.
Birds are fun and can be very affectionate. They can also be bitey, loud, and messy.
I think hamsters, guinea pigs, and gerbils are just to smelly and not friendly enough.
Rabbits that are kept inside use a litter box, so there's that. And they are known to chew - everything - a lot.
I've heard wonderful things about hedgehogs, but have never owned one.

Posted by: Traci at June 26, 2008 12:21 PM

I, like Mia, am very allergic to both cats (currently have) and dogs (have had). Hamsters don't set off my allergies (nor do rats, which are one of my favorite pets ever, but, if you can't handle the rat thing, I understand), but rabbits (had one) and chinchillas definitely do. As do ferrets. Guinea pigs...well...I just don't like them. Can't remember if they make me allergic, my ex had one when we lived together, and I wouldn't go near it. Ducks & chickens, severe allergies. I like to pretend it's not true, but down pillows are murder on my sinuses.

Honestly? I think the dog idea is the best. Golden doodles (or any variety of poodle mix) are the lowest on my itchy-animals list. I mostly am triggered by saliva, too, so if you can train the dog to not lick (every pet I've had cringes at the "NO LICKING!" command), you're pretty set.

Or a rat. Rats are kinda awesome.

Posted by: Kate at June 26, 2008 12:24 PM

A friend of mine's daughter is allergic to dogs, but they were able to get a terrier, like Toto in the Wizard of Oz, and it sleeps in her bed with no problems.

Posted by: Krush at June 26, 2008 12:39 PM

I was going to suggest a labra or golden doodle or a schnoodle - schnauzer/poodle mix. Bijon Frisaise (sp?) are another good, low allergen breed. If you can meet a reputable breeder, they may allow you to visit with Mia, or even offer you a money-back guaranty if after 3 days, Mia's allergies flare up. As much as I advocate adopting from a shelter - when you have an allergenic kid - I would say you are most likely going to have to purchase from a breeder.

And I would argue the "ferrets are good pets for small children" claim any day. I have a 2 inch scar on my face to back me up. Great for adults, if you can get over the smell (they stink even after having them "descented") but not so great for kids. I got an incredible gash from our pet ferret when I was 2 while innocently playing with my own squeek toy. Ferrets do NOT like noisy kid toys.

Posted by: Mindy at June 26, 2008 12:56 PM

I just stumbled across your blog a couple of weeks ago and love it! My vote would be for a bunny. That was the only pet I was allowed to have as a child, and for my 30th birthday (a few years ago) my wonderful boyfriend got me another one. Lucy, is a wonderful addition to our family. Bunnies can be litter trained and so can hop around the house and they are oh so cuddly and cute! Oh, and they are also very easy to take care of and feed! Good luck.

Posted by: Jill at June 26, 2008 1:23 PM

Guinea pigs are the best if you're going the "small animal" route. We've had ours for almost 3 years now, and she is wonderful with the kids. We have a 7, 5 & 3 year old. Hamsters and gerbils aren't too fond of being held by small children. Guinea pigs are have a pretty high tolerance for "small child abuse," they are very clean (don't smell), and fairly low maintenance (just a weekly cleaning of the cage, which isn't too bad because they pee in one spot, so you usually can scoop that corner daily to keep the cage clean all week). My kids love to push our guinea pig around in the stroller, and they carry her around like a baby... dress her up in clothes, and she's been squeezed, pinched and dropped, but never so much as nibbled on a finger. The problem is still the allergies. My husband is allergic to cats, and he's also allergic to the guinea pig. So that might be a problem with Mia. You'd have to find a way to test that out first. Turtles are also pretty awesome. I had one growing up. They're not cuddly per say, but they are fun to play with on the floor and in the yard. Pretty low maintenance too, I think. Good luck!

Posted by: margo at June 26, 2008 1:24 PM

Yeah, what someone else said above. They have hypoallergenic cats! You can check out these guys http://www.allerca.com/ or just check the subject out on wikipedia!

Posted by: Jeff A at June 26, 2008 2:03 PM

I totally forgot to tell you - the whole reason we got our Wheaton is because they don't shed. And it's true!!!

Posted by: sunshine at June 26, 2008 2:23 PM

I really want to get my daughter whose almost 9 a pet for her birthday. I was thinking about starting out small, like a hamster, which is what I had when I was growing up. However, my husband is opposed saying their too much work, having to clean their cages everday? But now I'm worried about all the comments saying they can be mean? I had a couple bunnies too growing up. If you keep them in a cage inside the house you have to clean it quite a bit, as their pee can get smelly. But you can train them to a litter box which is soo cool. However, if you let them out to hop around the house they chew on everything. They chewed up quite a few computer cords before we realized it. I would say go for the chinchilla or guinea pig!

Posted by: Fabs at June 26, 2008 2:35 PM

Siamese cats are typically tolerated by people with allergies. I recently read about a cat that didn't make people sneeze and such, but for the life of me I can't recall which one it was.

My daughter is allergic to cats, I had one (Siamese) most of her childhood and it didn't bother her. She has her own now (not Siamese). She can't sleep with them or have them in her bedroom though. Otherwise, she does fine.

I can help you out with a cat....bwahahahahahaha

Posted by: been there, done that at June 26, 2008 2:35 PM

am dying for one!

Posted by: ali at June 26, 2008 2:53 PM

Is Mia allergic to the fur of cats and dogs? If so, you could consider adopting a dog that has hair and not fur.

We had dogs, fish, and a hamster growing up.

Posted by: Maria at June 26, 2008 5:03 PM

I had hampsters. One was named Buddy until it gave birth randomly about 4 weeks after bringing it home. It was changed to Mrs. Buddy then.

We also always had a dog.

I have a fondness in my heart for frogs though

Posted by: Dani at June 26, 2008 5:12 PM

I don't get the draw with the rodents either. The hubby and I always had dogs growing up and we're on dog #2 with Harley. We have a lab and despite Harley's numerous allergies, he's never had trouble with dogs despite dogs being on his list of allergies. Cats are his big issue.

Doctors tell those with allergies to avoid dogs and cats, but most people that I know that have allergies--ignore this advice unless they are extremely allergic to them.

I say follow your heart in this area, but I recommend fish. Don't you have a pond in the back yard? Though, it would require work on your part to keep the raccoons and various critters from regularly eating your fish.

Posted by: Diane at June 26, 2008 6:33 PM

rabbit. House rabbit. They are easily litter boxed trained and are actually very much like cats. You must do copious rabbit proofing of rooms the rabbit will be in, for chewing. However, I had a bunny for several years before I got my cat. She was my heart. We called her the B. She was never caged, she was free range house bun.

There are some specifics about having a bunny, if you consider getting one, I could elaborate further. Things you would want to consider.

Posted by: Jodi at June 26, 2008 7:00 PM

It sounds weird, but I was raised with snakes (8 of them). They ranged from a 12 foot long burmese python who ate rabbits, to a garter snake that ate crickets. My sister was allergic to well, everything, so snakes were a good choice.

Snakes are great becuase they are quiet, they live in cages, they only eat and poop once a week. Which is the same time you change the water. They are the most low-stress animals ever. A garter snake that eats goldfish will run you about $20. (Their mouths are so small they cant bite Mias fingers, not that they have teeth anyways.)The cage with warming pad is probably $50. 5 feeder gold fish once a week, is barely more than $1.00.

Cheapest, easyest pet around. AND she will not become one of those irrational adults who fear snakes.

Posted by: Missy at June 26, 2008 7:52 PM

They're pricey, but how about one of the new Allerca® cats?


Posted by: coolchick at June 26, 2008 8:21 PM

We are in the same boat. We used to have a black lab that we loved dearly and she was great with kids but the little man is very asthmatic so we gave her away to a lovely retired couple and now she's having the time over her life being their only child.

If we do another pet, which could happen eventually, I think we will go the lizard route. They are easy to take care of with the exception of feeding them live bugs. My brother in law had a gecko that lived for about 7 years and it was an awesome pet.

Posted by: Jen at June 26, 2008 8:27 PM

Oh I forgot to say that picture made me choke on my drink. Hilarious.

Posted by: Jen at June 26, 2008 8:28 PM

We had rabbits as kids. They were cute and cuddly :) Nice art, Beth. :P

Posted by: Heather at June 26, 2008 11:18 PM

I am SO excited I just saw this ad now and thought of Mia. It was for a freakin' life size pony though. You know that is JUST the thing she needs.


Are your furreal Beth? Yes Mia, yes I am.

Posted by: Beth at June 26, 2008 11:39 PM

Wow! So many comments!

We've had two hamsters-one old one that was given to us (male) and a young panda bear female that we brought home last fall. I think hammies are better for older kids (around 9+)

-They are pretty easy to take care of-change the cage once a week, food, water, attention (Jake does it all)
-they're fun to hold if you know how
-ours is friendly and doesn't bite unless provoked
-docile ones (the male we had was this way) are really fun to play with

-They do make a mess and lots of the bedding falls all over the floor (they kick it out the side)
-the wheel running can be noisy at night
-ours is usually active around dinner time through the evening (little kids may not get to play with it much if they go to bed early)
-females go in heat every six days or so and smell really bad when you pick them up (like urine)
-skittish/fast ones are harder to hold and "play" with. I wouldn't recommend our current hammie to a family with little kids, she's just too hyper. It's hard to tell what they'll be like when they're little, but I think that males are supposed to be a little more calm.

Posted by: Scattered Mom at June 27, 2008 12:10 AM

Golden Doodles or whatever they're called... the mix between poodle and Golden Lab are allegedly hypoallergenic. They don't shed. One of our parents at the school I work at has one because all of her kids are allergic to dogs... and the kids have no issue with Sadie. :)

I agree with guinea pig or hamster. Also, ferrets are a good choice. You just need to put in a little work training them to use a litter pan. But they can be walked on a leash, held. When they're babies they nibble a bit, but are quickly broken of that bad habit. We've had three, and they're great. Yes, they have a slight oder, but if you bathe them once every two weeks, it's really fine.

Posted by: Kate at June 27, 2008 12:14 AM

I have some moderate allergies to dogs and cats and so some of the dog breeds mentioned above (poodles, porteguese waterdogs, etc.) are much better for me in terms of sneezing and itchy eyes. This would, of course, depend on the severity of her allergy.

BEWARE of rabbits. I remember cleaning out a rabbit cage once and my throat closed up and my eye swelled shut. If your child is allergic to dogs and cats, it is quite possible she's allergic to the bunnies, as well.

Posted by: NGS at June 27, 2008 12:16 AM

Speaking from experience, I am wholly in favour of not letting an allergy (provided it's not the life-threatening kind) prevent you from having pets. I have been allergic to cats, dogs and birds my whole life, but that has never stopped me from owning numerous fluffy and feathered pets. It will depend how severe Mia's allergy is, of course, but there is nothing wrong with still getting her a cat / dog. My reason being - and what I have found to hold true for myself - is that is she is exposed to her allergen in her home environment, then she is less likely to react badly when she comes into contact with it outside the home. Case in point: I grew up with a dog who died when I was about 14. We did not get another dog for 4 years there after, at which point we obtained 2 lovable muts. My allergies went absolutely crazy for about 2 weeks. Why? Because I hadn't been exposed on a regular basis. After 2 weeks, everything was fine again, and I built up a tolerance. When I moved out and got a cat, I reacted to him for about a week (sneezing, tight chest, skin went red wherever he touched me etc.) but now I'm fine with him. BUT, now that I'm not around the dogs anymore (who stay with my folks) I react to them whenever I visit.

My point is that it can be a good thing to have pets around and it can help her in the long run. There are things you can still do to make sure you reduce her exposure a bit (make sure the bedding stays fairly clean, keep counters and floors free of pet hair etc.) but on the whole, while there may be a small adjustment period where her body gets used to the idea of being exposed to her allergen every day, that can actually pay off in the long run. Just a thought.

Posted by: Delia at June 27, 2008 1:26 AM

Good question - I didn't read through all of the responses so there might be a repeat here...

I am EXTREMELY allergic to cats and most dogs - asthma, itching, the whole bit. That being said - there are several breeds of dogs that have hair (non-shedding) and not fur and virtually no dander - which is the allergen that is usually the problem as it contains the protein. Poodles, Bichons, Shih Tzus (we have had 2 of these) and dogs like that... My allergist is generally against pets for patients with asthma, but concedes that breeds like these pose fewer issues. Still - everyone with allergies tolerates allergens differently. I still cannot touch my face after petting my dog unless I want my eyes to swell shut (washing them is a good idea anyway)...and I had an adjustment period with our 2nd Shih Tzu of sneezing, but it only lasted a month or so.

As far as ferrets go - they are more like cats because they groom themselves and have dander. My sister has had 2 and I couldn't stay at her house even if the ferret wasn't around me at night. They are fun and delightful animals though - just not hypoallergenic.

Posted by: Sue R at June 27, 2008 3:00 PM

Chinchillas are fun, soft, fluffy and relatively easy to care for - I had one for a couple of years in college. I think they'd probably be very kid-friendly, and if you get it a big huge cage they're tons of fun to watch run around (VERY active little buggers). The one drawback I can see is that they're not very cuddly - i.e., Mia probably wouldn't be able to hold it for long periods of time, but she could feed it and pet it and such.

Posted by: Dawn at June 27, 2008 5:06 PM

How about a bunny? They are cuddly and they can live outside in a rabbit hutch.

Posted by: Milly at June 27, 2008 6:51 PM

I'm on board with the other ferret lovers. :) We have one (Pickles) and we adore him. Our six year old loves to play chase and other games with him. He does sleep about 20 hours of the day, so he's pretty low maintenance. He's also litter trained, and spends most of his time in a cage. The only thing you have to watch out for is the tendency toward thieving... so many times have I found myself at the grocery store and discovered some little bugger took the wallet right out of my purse!
(There's a video of Pickles on our YouTube site.)

Posted by: Alicia at June 30, 2008 1:19 AM

FYI: Ferrets do NOT have dander. Period.

Posted by: Alicia at June 30, 2008 1:22 AM

get a hypoallergenic dog!!!

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Posted by: InezMckinney at May 18, 2010 11:40 AM