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How We Found the Perfect Hypoallergenic Pet for Our Family

Having a family pet seems to be a rite of passage for Canadian families, especially with young kids. Besides providing companionship, a loved house pet has a lot more to offer for the whole family – something I quickly discovered as we finally got our first family pet.

My experience with pets

I never had a pet growing up. My mom insisted they were more work than they were worth, yet I longed to visit families who had a playful dog or a curious cat. I remember yearning for that mystical connection that other kids had with their furry friends. Later in life, I grew quite allergic to cats, a trait I somehow passed on to my son. And given that my husband is allergic to dogs, we were doomed to end up adopting a scaly or slithering reptile or a yawn-worthy, ordinary fish.

While visiting some friends not long ago, we met their new pet – a very playful and oddly curly-haired cat. Our kids took an instant liking to this four-legged feline as I prepared for my immune system to wreak havoc on my sinuses.  About an hour into our visit, I was pleasantly surprised to have no allergy symptoms. I discovered this cute companion to be a Cornish Rex – a hypoallergenic cat! With this game-changer, our plans to being pet owners quickly began materializing.

Our new addition

Mango Tango entered our home about seven months ago and instantly became an adored member of our family. Being the only female in the house, she takes her princess role very seriously. She demands attention and often seeks us out when ignored. Mango is very social, cuddly, playful, and energetic – qualities quite common to this breed. Our boys will often run around the house with Mango closely behind, pawing at their heels. Our oldest can be seen curled up with a book and reading to the cat, explaining the details of the story, while our youngest is learning lessons in being gentler and quieter around Mango.

Lessons in responsibility

Aside from finding a special place in our hearts, Mango Tango is teaching us many lessons in responsibility. The boys are quite diligent in closing doors (she is quite the escape artist!), keeping toilets closed so she doesn’t drink out of them, ensuring she has enough food and water, and let us know when the litter needs cleaning – a job I am VERY eager to pass on one day!

I read that social skills, verbal skills, confidence, and emotional intelligence improve in children with pets as they incorporate them into play.

And without knowing that physical distancing was upon us, Mango’s unwavering affection provided each of us with therapeutic benefits we all needed – and boy did she enjoy all the attention!

My mom was right, having a pet is a lot of work. But she missed out on how much a pet can add to family life and as I finish this column, cat purring in my lap, I have no regrets or doubts that she is worth every bit of love and effort.

Frank Emanuele is a proud father of two boys, a special education teacher, and a director of Dad Club London.


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