Shih Tzu's are supposed to be hypoallergenic because they don't shed. Of course, everyone knows that it isn't the hair that is the problem, it's the dander. The Cattle Dog, who does shed, does not trigger my allergies. The cats don't seem to bother me. Nope. It is the supposedly hypo-allergenic Shih Tzu that sets me off.
I started a new asthma med on Tuesday. The side effects were pretty harsh. Friday morning I called and said, "I can't take it anymore." The nurse asked me to give myself a couple more days to adjust. I agreed to keep it up over the weekend, and this morning was better, side effect-wise. My asthma symptoms are worse though. I think that might be because when I woke up the Shih Tzu was sleeping practically in my face.
I should say that I do like this dog. It is very similar to the dog I had as a kid. I would like to train it not to bark so much at passing pedestrians and visitors at the door, but it is a sweet puppy. I like to take it for walks. It likes to curl up with me in my favorite chair. That I don't want to separate from the dog makes it more difficult. Officially it is Brian's dog, but both boys really like him. He is fun to wrestle with, apparently.
And now he sleeps on my bed, because, you know, I'm the one who is allergic to him. Last year he slept in Brian's room, but Brian has moved downstairs to The Domain of the Big Black Cat Where No Dog May Go. So he sleeps with me.
If you look up advice on what to do if you have asthma and a pet the first thing they tell you to do is re-home the dog. Not thrilled with this one. I know that I could find a good home for a moderately-trained Shih Tzu. I remember how difficult it was to find an adult small dog when we were looking for one. It is the option of last resort though and right now my symptoms are not so bad that I'm thinking about it. Keeping the dog outside is not an option. It's a Shih Tzu. It is a people dog. It would be better to the dog to find it a new home than try to turn it into a yard dog.
- Keep the dog out of my bedroom. Keeping the Shih Tzu out of the master bedroom would mean keeping all the animals out, which would require constant vigilance from everyone. I just don't think that is likely. So I think the only reliable way to be sure the dog does not go where I sleep would be to move myself into the guest bedroom. Again, I could do it. If I need to do it, I will do it.
- Wash my bedding weekly. This will mean buying a new coverlet/comforter because I am NOT washing a handmade quilt every week. I might have to do this no matter where the dog sleeps at night.
- Set up monthly appointments to have the dog professionally groomed. I think I get worse as the dog's hair gets longer because I start combing out mats and giving it baths. Regular grooming will help.
- Get someone to give the dog a bath every week. Sigh. This just isn't going to happen. I look down that path and all I see is me being irritable, nagging, pleading, threatening, and yelling at Roland. Brian isn't the problem, but it really is two-person job. (Maybe there is some sort of equipment that I could buy that would keep the dog from jumping out of the tub so Brian could do it alone.)
- Prevent the dog from sleeping on my bed at night or at the very least not on the pillow next to my face. I've thought about trying to set up a pillow or something to attract the dog to the bottom of the bed. Usually that is where he sleeps. Sadly I really think that the only thing I can do to make sure he doesn't cuddle with my head is crate him. There isn't a lot of room for a crate in the master bedroom, but maybe I could find somewhere. I hate to crate him in a different room, but I know that he would get used to it and probably better and faster than I would.
- I need to ask Roland to check the air filter in the furnace. I know he changed it right after the electricians were done, but maybe it is time to do it again. We buy a good, not-cheap filter, but maybe we need to jump up to the really good, expensive filters.
I keep imagining Victoria ("It's Me or The Dog") reacting to my saying, "I have asthma but I like the dog to sleep on my bed." It isn't pretty. Sigh.
I just measured the dog crate. I'm pretty sure I can get it in next to my dresser.
I hope this works.
Anyone got any other ideas?
(De-shedding tools won't help since the Shih Tzu isn't a shedder).
Update: So I bought a coverlet for the bed. It will cover everything, including the pillows during the day. I can fold it back at night so even if animals have been sleeping on it, I will trap some of the dander in the fold. Some anyway. I'm considering washing the pillows, though I'm not sure I will get them done tonight. Right now the windows in the bedroom are open (no one think about the heating bill). I expect to go to bed in a clean room.
Roland confirmed that the furnace filter was nasty again and we bought new ones. We've been going through them, but then the electricians did stir up a LOT of dust. It is possible that the Shih Tzu is getting blamed for more than is strictly his fault.
Roland is also setting up the crate in the bedroom. I hope the dog deals with it without too much complaint. He used to sleep in it all the time when he was a puppy and untrustworthy. Roland is also washing the cover to the dog bed that goes in itWhen I picked up the dog at the groomers I made appointments for the next three months. We will see if monthly groomings work. Stacy kindly left me a link to a device that will restrain the doggy in the tub. I will talk to Brian to see if he thinks he can use it to wash the dog by himself.