Hugging dog

A few years back I offered to do my mother a favor by returning an unwanted item to a big-box bookstore. Donning Dalmatian scrubs and a paw-print tote, I couldn’t have looked more like an animal lover. Unfortunately, that wasn’t a winning look for the store manager. She sized me up with a scowl and asked if I’d realized the item I was returning had some pet hair on it.

“Pet hair? Oh, my God, no! Not pet hair!”

OK, so maybe I overplayed it a bit. But how was I supposed to respond? I mean, I wear pet hair every single day of my life like it’s a fashion statement. Such is the nature of my profession. And in this case, the item had hair on it because I had hair on me. In fact, it had acquired the offending material only after I’d removed it — with an apparent poof of pet fuzz — from its pristine plastic sack.

What's the Problem With Pet Hair?

In the end, the manager was forced to relent (albeit with an expression befitting someone who has just detected a foul odor nearby). After all, the item was in perfect condition — but for a wee bit of inoffensive pet hair.

“Inoffensive,” that is, for the vast majority of pet-loving humans — last weekend’s brunch-time fiasco notwithstanding.

At that inauspicious event, one of Miami’s most heavily trafficked brunch spots (in large part because it caters to the canine set) was the scene of yet another hair-raising confrontation on the subject of wayward fur when my Frenchie, Vincent, shook off his excess.

Turning to me with a curled upper lip, a diner at a nearby table expressed her contempt with a snarl: “So you know, I have three dogs, and I leave them at home.” To which I replied: “I have four, and this one likes brunch.”

Thankfully, she left within minutes, uttering the word “disgusting” under her breath. Which got me to thinking that pet ownership alone is no qualification for the kind of attitude I seek in my preferred fellow humans.

After all, I consider the acceptance of pet hair not only an inevitable fact of life, but a badge of honor and welcome byproduct of my animals’ adoration, too. So it is that I often say — cheekily — that those who can’t tolerate a little pet hair on their person are not to be trusted.

A Little Pet Hair Never Hurt Anyone

It was with that humorous insight in mind that I put pen to paper and added up my reasons for “distrusting” the fur averse:

1. Because I don’t trust anyone my pets don’t like, and, excellent judges of character that they are, they’d never like anyone unwilling to risk cozying up to them (shedders, all).

2. Because if they don’t get pets, what else don’t they understand?

3. Because people who care more about their cars, clothing and other things than they do any part of our pets are not my faves.

4. Because I don’t much like petty people in general. I mean, how can you trust someone who might diss you for something as superficial as pet hair?

5. Because I don’t trust serious neat freaks either.

Now, true allergics are another story, as are those who suffer from OCD or other very real diseases — psychiatric or otherwise. But the Cruellas I described in both above anecdotes? It’s clear some people are inherently unworthy of our confidence.