I have a very VERY sensitive dog allergy.  I've gotten sick for 5 days because I was downwind from a dog in a car 50 feet away from me. 

I spent all last fall developing techniques to avoid exposure.  I was sick all last fall from allergies, because I kept on having allergy accidents.  I wear an allergy mask when I'm outside my house; use a piece of thread to gauge wind direction, etc. etc.  The mask only helps a little with dog allergen, though it's very good to filter out the pollens. 

I've been driven to extremes by my allergies, and I've worried about getting into conflicts with the police.  Especially with police K9 units of course.  I worry about being labeled a weirdo or mentally ill. 

Yesterday that happened.  I'd gone to get my bike repaired.  The bike shop had had a dog in there earlier in the day, so I knew being in the shop could make me sick. 

They were able to repair my bicycle while I waited.   So I went across the street and found a place where I was generally upwind of the street.  The main risk is from dogs going by in cars, I've found. 

After awhile a construction worker comes along and asks me why I'm wearing a mask.  I took the mask off momentarily to say "Horrible allergies".  Then he starts talking with me about how bad the pollen is this time of year.  He said he'd seen a tree release a visible cloud of pollen.  I said jokingly that it was like the tree sneezing. 

I said "no, there isn't any poison gas around here".  Sometimes people have wondered if I was wearing a mask for some reason that they might be concerned about, that's why. 

After awhile the construction worker goes away. 

Also, a police K9 unit parked for a bit on the street.  I saw I was directly downwind from it.  Alarmed, I ducked farther away from the street.

Some or all of this caused someone to call the police.

They come along, cop says "We've had complaints you were acting weird".  I said "All I've been doing is standing here".  I explained that I was waiting for my bike to be fixed.

Cop asks "Do you have mental problems?"

I smiled - who doesn't have mental problems? - and said "No more than anybody else". 

Cop asks "Are you on any medications?"

I thought this rather intrusive, but I said "Not any mental medications".

Cop asked for my ID.  I gave it to him.  They took down the info, wrote up a report etc., returned my ID to me, apologized. 

I was nervous waiting after that because the bike shop took longer to finish my bike than I'd expected.  I worried the cops would come back and say I'd been there too long.

I wasn't upset or nervous talking to the cop.  But I felt rather rattled later.  I don't like having uniformed strangers asking me if I'm mentally ill.  I do do unusual things, and make creative jokes - but it's ugly having people think I'm crazy just because of that :(  Which the construction worker apparently did. 

I realized later that I'd had my epi-pen with me.  I could have pulled that out to show to the police, to convince them I really do have severe allergies, it's not craziness.  (epi-pens are prescription only). 

Allergic people do get labeled as having psychological problems.  Even though everyone knows allergies are an immune system problem, not a psychological problem, allergic people are often accused of using their allergies to manipulate others or exaggerating them. 

I don't know about anyone else, but allergies are a HUGE burden for me and I have no wish to make the burden any worse!

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I'm amazed you can ride a bike at all, seems like everybody in our community has a dog.

I started wearing a mask all the time outside my house last Feb., and I actually haven't become sick from a dog going by in a car while wearing the mask. 

I had many allergic reactions - sick for days - from dogs going by in cars, when I wasn't wearing a mask. 

So the mask does seem to filter out a good deal of the allergen.  I have had many allergic reactions to dogs while wearing the mask though, from more intense exposures than a dog sailing by in a car. 

It's a bizarre feeling.  These big dogs lean out of cars, and it's very airy and happy and carefree.  And the dogs have these big sloppy grins on their faces.  Yet I can be rendered ill by the consequences of all this happiness.  Or at least, have been rendered ill by it. 

It's a weird disconnect.



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