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An Open Letter To Chelsea Peretti @ Her Future Dog

Yankee - a pup I pulled from a shelter and adopted out to a great home vie The Mutt Scouts

Yankee – a non-shedding pup I pulled from a high-kill shelter and adopted out to a great home.

Hi Chelsea~

I don’t think you know who I am, but we’ve met a few times over the years. I’m a big fan of your work (ugh… Sorry, that’s so cliche but true!) I think you are very talented and funny and the few times we’ve interacted you’ve been cool with just the right amount of weird. Point is, I like and respect you.

One of those times we met-ish was when my friend and I were walking our dogs around the reservoir and you were walking with someone I know. We stopped and chatted and you were really enamored with both my dog and my friend’s dog. Both of our dogs fit the description of the sort of dog you’re looking to… well, to obtain. I’m really excited for you – I can’t really put into words the amount of joy my girl Ruby has brought into my life!

This here letter is in response to an email I got from one of my podcast listeners titled “Help Save Chelsea Peretti From Buying A Dog!” They sent it to me because they know I’m passionate about dog rescue. At first I thought, there’s not much I can do, it’s your choice and I’m over the days of being pushy and vocally judgmental to people who choose to buy versus rescue. Also, I’m aware that I’m a total hypocrite pushing rescue on people (more on that later) but after listening to the podcast in which you discussed it, I wanted to let you know about my experience with buying a dog as someone who has dog allergies. I think it might help.

Here are the things you said you want in your future pup:

1. You have dog allergies so you need a hypoallergenic dog.
2. You want a cool medium sized dog who will hike with you but doesn’t need massive amounts of exercise because you are busy and travel a lot.
3. You want your dog to be pretty/cute (I get it and I appreciate your honesty :))

A little history from moi:
I have dog allergies but never really went to an allergist for them. I grew up with dogs, shedding dogs, and it was never a problem until I turned about twenty.

Seven years ago when my then boyfriend (now husband) and I moved in together, we decided we wanted some puppy love in our lives. Knowing I was allergic, and not really even being aware at all about dog rescue and how important it is, I immediately googled “hypoallergenic dogs” which led me to several websites that claimed to sell a type of dog that I wouldn’t be allergic to. I bought a dog from a “breeder” after talking to her on the phone, although I’m now certain that this was a woman from a call center representing one of the thousands of massive puppy mills that supplies these so called “hypoallergenic” dogs.

Our lil Ruby was shipped to us when she was 8 weeks old. We picked her up from the airport and instantly fell in love.

She weighed about 4 pounds. Three days later I was a sneezing, snotting, asthma attack having mess of a puddle. This lil tiny “hypoallergenic” thing made me feel like I was going to die, and honestly, I could have. I went to an allergist in a  desperate panic and I had to start medication as well as start getting allergy shots immediately and didn’t stop for over 5 years. It made my allergies A LOT better and now I’m only mildly allergic to Ruby – we bathe her frequently – but it’s totally manageable. I’m still extremely allergic around shedding dogs.

PS. I reaaallly want to go into my entire story with Ruby – how she turned me into a dog lover and got me involved in dog rescue and that the fact that I bought her instead of adopted her is a great source of shame for me and I’m aware that I’m a total hypocrite preaching about rescue but it’s something I’m crazy passionate about so I don’t fucking care…  but this is about allergies so I’ll stick to that.

My allergist also informed me that there is NO SUCH THING as a hypoallergenic dog. I’d been duped by a sales gimmick. Anyone who uses that as a sales pitch is a sleazy liar. Which I’m definitely not surprised by because 99.99 percent of “breeders” are pieces of shit who contribute to massive amounts of suffering and see these animals as dollar signs or commodities. But I digress.

Here’s the rub: You and I are unfortunately allergic to a dog’s saliva and dander, not their fur. Having a “non shedding” dog – one who has hair instead of fur – is definitely a huge help because the dander and saliva is more contained on the actual dog instead of spread all over your house and clothes. Aside from the shedding vs. non-shedding, There is no type of fur or breed of dog that will make your allergies better or worse.

On your podcast you complained that rescue people are always saying, “it’s a mix” but didn’t know what kind of breed mix it was and you feel that buying a puppy from one of these hypoallergenic breeders will guarantee a less allergic experience because you’ll know what you are getting. We hear this as a defense of buying a dog versus adopting all the time: I want to know what I’m getting… Well, The truth is that there are just two types of dogs when it comes to allergies: shedding and non shedding. You can tell a shedding dog from a non shedding dog very easily by just looking at it. You’ll know what you’re getting. I can eyeball a dog and in an instant tell you what you’re dealing with. All breeders selling “hypoallergenic” dogs are ALSO selling mixes who happen to be non shedding, they are absolutely no different from a rescue dog who is non shedding.

Your wish list #2:
A cool medium sized dog who will hike but doesn’t need tons of exercise because you are busy and travel a lot.

The beauty of adopting a dog instead of buying a puppy is that, actually,  you know EXACTLY what you are getting. Also, if you don’t have time for a high energy exercising needing big dog, you definitely don’t have time for a puppy. My unsolicited advice: Adopt an awesome medium sized dog who is over 1 or 2 years old. You’ll know a lot more about that dog’s personality and needs than buying or adopting a puppy.

#3: Pretty/Cute

Hey, guess what happens ALL THE TIME? Someone with allergies or a kid who wants a dog for a minute or people who are ill equipped to care for a dog but just HAVE TO HAVE ONE because they are so cute! Those people go out and buy a dog from a pet store or breeder or online (again 99.99% of which come from horrific puppy mills) and then a week or two later decide they can’t keep the dog and bring it to the shelter where it has a high (at least 50%, often way more) chance of being killed. The dog in this photograph below was one of those dogs. She was a few weeks old and had been at the shelter for two weeks, no one had pulled her and her time was running out. I took her home, spruced her up and voila:

She was adopted to the best couple ever and she actually is one of the dogs you were gushing over on the reservoir.

My point is, the dogs in the shelters and rescues ARE THE SAME DOGS as the ones you see online or in pet stores. They are all the same amount of pretty, just might need a little sprucing to get to that pretty place. imagine being thrown into a prison for no crime whatsoever other than the people who care for you are irresponsible and being terrified, not eating, not sleeping, and oh yeah, your three roommates keep shitting on you. You probably wouldn’t look as gorgeous as you did the other night at the Golden Globes :)

Also, quickly – Yes, there are TONS of chihuahua’s and pit bulls in shelters/rescues because those breeds have it the hardest in terms of people not spaying/neutering and/or buying them as short term accessories, but there are probably hundreds of the exact type of dog you are looking for in the shelter/ rescue system in Los Angeles as I write this. Here are a few up for adoption recently, all taken from the LA North Central Shelter Facebook Page:

These types of dogs are euthanized every day – in fact, about 250 dogs are euthanized every day in LA city – puppies, pure breds, you name it. The reason us rescue people are so annoying is because we have many times fallen in love with a dog in a shelter and tried desperately to find it a home, a temporary home, to raise funds to put it in boarding to buy time but we just can’t do it. Then a friend of a friend goes and buys the exact same type of dog from a breeder and the dog we fell in love with is killed. I personally couldn’t take the emotional toll anymore so I try to advocate for rescue instead of get my hands dirty in it these days. Rescuers get a bad wrap but to me they are saints.

SO! Unsolicited advice #2: Fuckin’ ADOPT that dog, do not buy. Do not line the pockets of breeders and allow them to thrive in a cruel business when your pup is sitting on death row in a LA shelter or in a rescue. You’ll be saving his/her life as opposed to contributing to a horrific and easy to avoid problem.

To summarize:
1. There’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Know that you might need to get allergy shots regardless of whether you buy from a breeder or adopt a non shedding dog – they are all the same, there’s not one that’s better than the other in terms of allergies.
2. Do not get a puppy. Adopt a slightly older dog and you’ll really know what you are getting.
3. All shelter and rescue dogs are the same as the pretty princess dogs you see online. They just need a bath and a day outside of the hell they’ve been living in.

Lastly – my biggest unsolicited advice of all!

My numero uno suggestion for you is to foster a dog for a rescue! This would be awesome on so many levels. First of all, you could take that dog for a trial run/test spin (don’t mention this as a motive to the rescue though, just say you want to foster a dog who is non shedding) All rescues are desperate for fosters and will jump at the chance to save another life. Secondly, foster families always have first dibs on actually adopting the dog. You’ll get to see if that dog fits into your life, how bad the allergies really are, and maybe there will be a love connection or not. To me it’s a major win win.

Here is Willow – a non shedding dog who was so weak she could barely hold her head up when we got to her. Luckily we had an awesome couple who wanted to foster her and nurture her back to health:

They fell in love and adopted her two weeks later. Here is Willow (and me, visiting!) after a year in her new home:

I have some connections in the rescue world and am SO HAPPY to email intro you to a few people if that’s something that interests you. I hope you’ll consider that as an option.

* Note: Aside from the North Central photos, all the dogs pictured here are non shedding dogs I pulled from high kill shelters and placed in loving homes when I worked with/for The Mutt Scouts. Statistically speaking, half of those would have been euthanized had their families not chosen to adopt.

Sorry if this was super preachy and annoying. I sort of hate myself for doing this but I can’t help it.

All the best,
Elizabeth

16 Comments!

Daniel says:

You really need to stop calling yourself a hypocrite. A hypocrite is a liar and deceitful. Two things you are not.

Buying a dog from a breeder and then through education and experience changing or developing an opinion about adopting, as oppose to buying, does not make you a hypocrite. In this situation a hypocrite would be someone who condemns puppy mills while operating a puppy mill.

I totally understand why you might call yourself a hypocrite here and on the podcast. You are just trying to head off the seamingly mandatory hateful people who think growing as a person equals hyporacy. These people are ignorant and need to be swiftly ignored.

Keep up the great work and continue being awesome!!

Lara says:

As the guardian of an amazing, non-shedding dog, I couldn’t agree with you more Elizabeth. Our little Dino was a matted mess when he was found abandoned, hungry and wandering the streets. He was so matted that the weight of his tangles were literally tearing his hair out from his skin. The shelter he was brought to decided to put him down because they didn’t “want to deal” with getting his matting out and deemed him non-adoptable. Thank goodness for the rescue organization that swooped in and saved him, literally minutes away from certain death. Once they got him cleaned up (a quick with a good trimmer), the next hurdle came. He was an adult dog with an under-bite that made him look aggressive and “not cute” in photos. He was in the foster system for a year before I stumbled upon his picture and knew my boyfriend (now husband) and I were the ones meant to give this little guy the home he deserved. 1.5 years later and Dino is the happiest dog in the world! He just spent a week with us up in Mendocino frolicking on the beach, he has a best friend in my mom’s miniature schnauzer Tessa (a rescue as well–bought from a breeder and abandoned bc the original owner didn’t have the time), he goes on fancy walks with a group of other city dogs twice a week, and he gets cuddles every single night from his parents. Oh, and that whole “not cute” thing? He just needed to get his mojo back. Dino is SO cute that we are often stopped on the street with people requesting to take the picture of the smiling dog with the crazy under-bite. Rescue is the way, thank you for preaching! Gotta go, standing on this soap box is getting uncomfortable.

Nikki says:

The tone of this, I think, is perfect. It’s not preachy, annoying, judgey, or condescending. I think raising awareness of puppy mills is step #1 of shutting the f*ckers down. No dog lover would be happy knowing where these puppies come from, and as soon as puppy mills cease being profitable the cruelty will stop. It is, nonetheless, a hard topic to bring up in the moment when a friend is talking about getting a new puppy. I do think there are some decent breeders out there, and I like living in a world with labs, pugs, corgis, etc, but you just have to be careful, do your research, and do an on site visit. I also try to let my little rescue mutt lead by example… adorable, well behaved, sweet as pie, but boy, does she shed. Love you, Elizabeth!

MrHallsBetterHalf says:

I am so glad that you wrote this !!! I was listening to Call Chelsea when she was talking about this and wondering what little ole me could do to help. You are a great person and I do not for one second think you are a hypocrite for buying RUBY. You were just uneducated. The way I look at it now is that YOU saved RUBY.

MrHallsBetterHalf says:

I am so glad that you wrote this !!! I was listening to Call Chelsea when she was talking about this and wondering what little ole me could do to help. You are a great person and I do not for one second think you are a hypocrite for buying RUBY. You were just uneducated. The way I look at it now is that YOU saved RUBY. : )

Becky says:

My husband and I adopted our dog from the Mutt Scouts. Our pup Tig is the bet, and I’m so thankful to the Mutt Scouts for spotting our girl at the shelter and saving her. I’m so glad we went with adopting a rescue! The Mutt Scouts are the best.

Masha says:

This is a great post! My parents adopted their Labradoodle from a shelter a few years ago. He was emaciated and scared because his previous owners didn’t feed him and didn’t let him in the house. We fell in love with him, so my parents adopted him, and they couldn’t be more happy. They carefully monitored his calorie intake so he slowly gained the weight he needed and made him feel very welcome in the house. We had to teach him that he was welcome in the house (the first couple days, he would automatically go outside to the doorstep and look into the house, sad, because he was so used to being forced to stay outside). Now he’s a healthy weight, energetic, and knows that he’s loved and is allowed all over the house (except the few areas that he’s been taught not to go, including on furniture) since it’s his home too. He’s brought a huge amount of joy to my parents (who are empty nesters). Thank you for educating people about rescues, and how to properly go about adopting a dog!

Elizabeth says:

Thank you for this post! I have been listing to Totally Married & Totally Mommy since you started the Totally Mommy podcast – it’s been fun to go back and listen to the old Totally Married episodes to get caught up! I LOVE your podcasts! 1. You and Andy are awesome. 2. You both are hilarious. 3. I admire your loving, playful and honest relationship so much. I am a newlywed so I have fun listening to your “unqualified” advice and have found it to be very useful!

That was a ramble… back to the reason for my comment. We are looking at getting a dog and this post has *totally* inspired me to look at rescuing a dog. While I grew up with 2 toy poodles in my family, my mom, brother & sister are allergic to dogs & cats (they did fairly well with the poodles) so I would very much like to avoid making them “sneezing, snotting, asthma attack having messes” whenever they come over to our house, so this has really reassured me that we can find the perfect dog that fits our needs without having to buy one. We live in the SF Bay Area and have zero experience with shelters in this area, but I am going to start researching today. I can’t wait to find the perfect pup for our household :) Thank you!

Elizabeth says:

Oh man, just seeing this – this made my night!! THank you for this, and good luck finding your new buddy :)

Cassidy Stockton says:

Love it! Thanks for pointing this post out to me. I’m a pretty new Laime-wad, so I hadn’t seen it. I am so sold on adopting/rescuing. Thank you and thank you for all of the work you are doing to give more pups a chance.

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