The Upper West Side of Manhattan is one of the great dog capitals of the world. On a bright spring day the dogs can outnumber the strollers winding the paths of Riverside Park. One of the elderly ladies in my building even has a grand-dog who stays with her on the weekends; she does not however have a grandchild. So, my daughters live surrounded by adorable puppies and mellow older dogs, which they feel the need to stop and coo over every time they pass one on the street. The owner will inevitably say, “Oh, they really love dogs, you should get one.” And then my daughters will dramatically sigh and drop their shoulders and bemoan, “We can’t because my mom is allergic.” Yes, blame me.
This is how it went until President Obama put a puppy in the White House despite the fact that his oldest daughter, Malia, is allergic. My daughters seized on this immediately and declared that we could get whatever breed the First Family picked because that would be an allergy free dog. Of course, as the NY Times pointed out, there is no such thing. I also had to point out that I’m sure Malia and Sasha’s bedrooms are the size of our entire apartment, and they have a full time cleaning staff to make sure that all the dog hair and dander is vacuumed up several times a day. But, none of this could wipe the disappointment off my daughters’ faces. Thanks Mr. President.
And so we did what many allergic families do, we got a fish. Two fish actually. Here’s the thing about fish – its lots of fun to pick out all the stuff, the tank, the colored gravel, the plants, the little castle and the actual fish. It’s thrilling to set it all up and watch the fish enjoy their new home. But, two days later my daughters barely register their existence. A little glance in the morning, maybe check in on them while they do homework at the kitchen table. Lets face it, fish don’t run to the door to greet you, or cuddle with you on the couch, or play fetch or walk you to school in the morning so all of your friends can pet them. Also, as we learned this morning, fish don’t live very long.
Unfortunately, my daughters will have to suffer through their childhood without a lovable pooch by their side. And I will feel guilty as I hear them dream about the many different kinds of dogs they will raise when they have their own homes. In the meantime they will watch the happy go lucky Obama girls romping on the White House lawn with Bo, no sneezing or itchy eyes in sight as I head to Petco to pick out a new personality filled fish.
This post originally appeared on nycmomsblog