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Opinion >  Column

The Slice: True or false: Pets always know

Popular folk wisdom holds that dogs and cats always seek out the person in the room who is allergic to pets.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t just a Spokane thing.

Anyway, this belief seems to be most firmly held by individuals who, without benefit of extensive medical training, don’t usually acknowledge that such allergies are a real concern. But I digress.

If there is anything to this “they seek out the person with allergies” thing, the unavoidable question is why.

In the absence of empirical data about body chemistry, pheromones and the amazing noses of our animal friends, all we can do is come up with guesses. Here are mine. (Feel free to share yours.)

Dogs and cats seek out the visitor with allergies because they want to make a convert to the ranks of pet lovers.

This shows that even animals can misunderstand the nature of allergies to pets and fail to grasp that many people thus afflicted adore animals.

Pets instinctively believe in a form of paws-on immunotherapy in which their presence near the allergic person will eventually desensitize that individual.

Think of it as being like getting shots.

Dogs and cats, at least those without charity in their hearts, believe those people who say they are allergic to pets are fakers. Liars, even.

The animals’ reasoning is simple. How could any reasonable human have an adverse physical reaction to creatures known for being furry and cute?

Dogs and cats head straight for the allergic individual to show there are no hard feelings.

“You can’t help it,” they seem to say. “It’s not your fault. I understand.”

Pets, perhaps somewhat defensively, believe allergies are psychosomatic.

By prancing over and greeting the allergy sufferer with a shin rub or head butt, they are demonstrating that the problem is all in the human’s imagination.

“See, look,” they seem to say. “Here I am standing right next to this guy and he’s still breathing!”

Because, thanks to years of survival instinct, people with allergies actually notice dogs and cats in someone’s home, the pets interpret this recognition as interest/affection (which it might well be).

What the pets see as “Oh look, a doggie!” might actually be “Uh, oh.”

Pets seek out allergy sufferers because many dogs and cats are excellent hosts and they want to make sure the watery-eyed wheezer in the corner feels welcome.

Today’s Slice question: Who taught you to swim?

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. Bev Gibb listed the species that have bitten her: Dog, cat, squirrel, parrot, goat, duck, goose, chicken, horse and a toddler.

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