Averil Gleason

Are you a dog or a cat person?

I’m not a pet person.

And before all the pet lovers grab their torches and pitchforks, let me explain why I’m not a pet person.

When I was little, the thing I wanted most in life was a Furby — an American electronic toy produced in 1998 that somewhat resembled a Gremlin, pre-food and water.

After spending a weekend at my grandma’s house, I came home to a surprise.

“Averil, I got you a present,” my mom cooed. “And it’s in the restroom.”

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” I shouted back as I ran into the restroom at full-speed, excited to see my Furby, because what else could it have been? I had been asking for a Furby toy for WEEKS.

To my surprise, when I entered the restroom, I didn’t see a Furby, but rather, another furry friend.

His name was Hot Rod. He was an orange-haired kitten and even though he wasn’t a Furby, he was purr-fect.

Hot Rod became one of the family in no time at all.

After getting Hot Rod, I noticed that my mom was often teary-eyed and always sniffling, but I was too young to think anything of it.

Two weeks later, I came home from school and something was off.

“Hot Rod?” I called out. “Here, kitty...”

I walked into the den and there my mom sat with a look of defeat on her face.

She explained to me that she is allergic to cats, and we couldn’t keep Hot Rod because her allergies were affecting her work. She gave our cute kitten to one of her friends in Houston.

“Well, why don’t we get a dog, then?” I asked, confused.

In an unfortunate turn of events, I learned that my dad is allergic to dog dander.

I was crushed. No Furby. No cat. And definitely never a dog.

Flash-forward to sophomore year of high school. I was sleeping over at my new friend Sera’s house for the first time.

I woke up in the middle of the night and my eyes were sealed shut.

I couldn’t believe it. Blinded at the ripe young age of 15.

Ends up I wasn’t blinded, just overly dramatic.

Sera quickly got her mom and she gave me an allergy pill and made me splash water on my eyes.

Like my mom, I, too was allergic to cats.

My dreams of being an old crazy cat lady were squashed, but it only got worse from there.

Something similar occurred after my 16th birthday when I spent the night at my new friend Hailey’s house.

It was like deja vu, but with dogs. Deja dog.

“Why me?” I shouted. How could I possibly be allergic to both cats and dogs?

It was official. Pets were forever out of the question.

Growing up, I had always known that I would never have a pet as long as I lived under my parents’ roof, but it was heartbreaking to know I could never have a traditional pet. No golden retrievers sitting next to my rocking chair on the front porch of my house, and no Calico cat curled up next to me in bed on a cozy Sunday.

It took time, but it was something I came to terms with.

However, just because I don’t have pets on account of my allergies doesn’t mean that I don’t like animals.

It just means I can’t get close to them without temporarily losing my eyesight or sneezing 11 times in a row.

So, friends and family with cats and dogs: I don’t pet your pets because I’m allergic. They’re still cute, and I send my love from afar.

Contact Averil Gleason at agleason@fbherald.com

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