Advice for a child who wants a dog

Beth asked, “I want to get a dog, but my mom doesn’t want one. She says a dog will make my allergies worse. What kind of dog is best?”

Far be it from me to stick my neck out into a family discussion….a dog can be a lot of work, and it’s really up to your parents, not me. On the other hand, I like dogs, too. So maybe I can help!

Dog allergies are not common, but they can occur. The allergies are usually to dander, which is essentially dried dog spit that sticks to the dog’s fur. So picking a breed that’s less licky and has less hair is probably a good idea for allergic families. If you’re feeling especially brave, you can even volunteer to get a blood test to see if you’re allergic to dogs. If the test is negative, that might help convince mom.

Your mom is also worried that the dog is going to end up being a lot of work for her. So you need to prove that you’re going to take care of your new pet. Begin by taking care of yourself and your room, and your other things. See if you can get your mom to let you “volunteer” to do some pet-sitting on your own. A dog is going to be a big responsibility, and mom isn’t going to agree to this new family member until she’s convinced that you’re going to be the one to take care of it.

The Obama family is looking for a new dog, too. I’ve read that they want to get one from a shelter. That’s a great idea, and you can get a really cute and friendly mutt that way. Another avenue to think about is working with a dog rescue organization. These are non-profits that provide “foster homes” for homeless dogs so they can learn good doggy manners. They also can find out what kind of family would fit with the dog—does he like children, or other animals? Some rescue organizations are for specific breeds, or only smaller dogs. Ask your mom to help you use an internet search to find local dog rescue organizations and shelters in your area.

Please don’t go buy a dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, many pet stores get their dogs from inhumane “puppy mills.” There are plenty of wonderful dogs at shelters and rescues that need a loving home. If a shelter dog is good enough for the President, it’s good enough for you!

Let me know how it works out!

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