How to minimize dog allergens in a vehicle
May 12, 2012 12:32 PM   Subscribe

How to get dog allergens out of your car or this favor just got out of hand. Part human relations, details inside.

So, I agreed to give someone a ride to the airport which is a big favor, it's 2 hours and I have to wake up at 3:30 am tomorrow. This is okay since I agreed to it, but I did not agree on the maltese fur baby in my car. Sure, I like dogs but they make me sneeze.
How can I minimize the amount of dog allergens that it leaves? I'm pretty allergic and my husband is extremely allergic. My sportscar is expensive and the seats are leather should I be concerned about this dog in a crate or am I taking it too seriously? I'm pissed it wasn't mentioned because it would have been a dealbreaker for this already large favor, and if I rescind I'm hanging her out to dry so I really can't do that.

Sympathy and alternative answers are welcome, thanks.
posted by ibakecake to Human Relations (26 answers total)
(1) I don't think it's unreasonable to tell her that you can't have a dog in your car and you're so very sorry but you had no idea that was part of the deal, and you won't be able to do it. (There's always another way for her to get to the airport. That is why Supershuttle exists. What if you'd gotten sick or broken your foot? Things happen.)

(2) I haven't tried them myself but I understand that the current state of the art in OTC allergy meds is really good; maybe if you take a Claritin, and have a towel under the crate which you them immediately throw in the wash upon getting home, this won't be a big deal.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:41 PM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

I can't profess real expertise in this area, but I would:

1) Explain to your friend about the allergies and tell her that her fur baby must stay in the crate during the drive (or that if it needs to come out of the crate at some point you'll have to stop on the side of the road so that it can be removed crate and all, but be put back in the crate before it goes back in the car).
2) Cover the part of the seat that the dog carrier will be on (both underneath and in back of it) with a blanket/sheet/something washable, with trash bags underneath the blanket if you're worried about accidents.
3) Make sure that if you have the air on, it's not circulating the air in the car but pumping new air in from outside.
4) Drive home after drop off with as many of the windows open as is comfortable.
5) If you're still having trouble, take the car somewhere for cleaning and explain the situation so they can make sure they wipe everything down and vacuum.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 12:45 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm thinking if it's a two hour drive this may not be an option, but is there an airport shuttle in your area you could hire for her? If it were me, I might think it was worth the money to not be trapped in a car with an allergen for that long with possible residual effects.
posted by cecic at 12:48 PM on May 12, 2012

If it's really not feasible to tell your friend no dogs in your car (and yeah, at this late date that would be mean, even if she sprung it on you without warning), I'd go for not just a towel under the crate, but perhaps something larger like a sheet, to catch any fur/dander/etc. that gets out of that crate. And absolutely NOT letting the dog out of the crate in your car: tell her if she tries it you're pulling over and dumping her and Dog on the side of the road --- this is your health you're talking about, not something like merely dislikeing dogs.

Then drive directly to the best carwash you know, and get the full interior vacumming plus seat cleaning plus carpet cleaning plus anything else they do.
posted by easily confused at 12:51 PM on May 12, 2012

Sportscar=small space. Call her up, say your allergies are flaring up and you can't be in the car with the dog.

Was she aware you have allergies? If so, AND she expected you to be in the car with her dog for two hours without telling you when she was asking the favour (pretty obviously deliberately) then I would say she has hung HERSELF out to dry.
posted by saucysault at 12:53 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ask the dog owner to wash and brush the dog right before. This should minimize the shedding and allergens (dander, saliva residue) on the dog itself.
posted by town of cats at 12:54 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Someone mentioned a sheet.... can you loosely wrap the carrier in the sheet (loosely!!! the dog will be fine) so there is very little of the crate showing through the sheet. Then put that bundle in the back seat of the car. Take the whole thing out at the airport, unwrap, and throw the sheet in the trash at the airport.
posted by CathyG at 1:01 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Don't be a doormat. You don't need to drive your friend's dog.

If your friend is hung out to dry by this, it is really her fault. She could have told you in advance. She could also have booked a taxi, taken a shuttle or a bus, or asked someone else for a ride.
posted by twblalock at 1:03 PM on May 12, 2012 [11 favorites]

Many airports have shuttle services that would be happy to transport someone with their dog to common locations in a van with a bunch of other people who share the cost, even out to two hours away.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:05 PM on May 12, 2012

Malteses don't "shed" the way a lot of dog breeds do and are considered "hypoallergenic".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:06 PM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Also, does the friend have a car you could pick them up in?
posted by Blasdelb at 1:06 PM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

As someone with allergies, an animal would be a dealbreaker and I wouldn't feel bad about it at all. You wouldn't expect someone with emphysema to spend two hours in a cigar bar with you.
posted by fellion at 1:13 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, just tell them you can't! You have perfectly acceptable reasons to back out of the favor.
posted by two lights above the sea at 1:17 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

This favor sounds too burdensome, unless there is absolutely no other way for your friend to get to the airport. Expensive cab ride? Well, if you consider your gas costs; the cost to have your car cleaned (if necessary); the value of two hours of your time; and the opportunity cost of having your day shot due to lack of sleep (3:30 a.m. wakeup call!?)....I think the friend should shift the burden back to her own shoulders, suck it up, and pay whatever it takes to have a third party get her to the airport.

Really, it's simply asking too much at this point. The dog is the dealbreaker.
posted by quivering_fantods at 2:02 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another vote for "springing the dog on you at the last minute like this is a dealbreaker". Your friend needs to make other arrangements.
posted by Lexica at 2:11 PM on May 12, 2012

If she's going to the airport, it is very possible that she'll have the dog in a soft sided carrier. This means that its basically a dog in a duffel bag, and shouldn't be too hard on you. Its good that you have the leather seats, just wipe with a barely damp cloth after. Thankfully the breed does not shed.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 2:22 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, and if she doesn't have a soft sided carrier, she can get one for less than $40. Put the carrier on a sheet/beach towel and you'll be pretty well protected.

Also, your friend sounds pretty self absorbed to drop this at the last moment. I'd do the favor, but in the future be really clear about expectations and being taken advantage of. Everyone gets a pass for the occasional asshattery, but if this is a patter that is not okay.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 2:24 PM on May 12, 2012

I can attest to the maltese's hypoallergenic-ness. My 8 year old son is very very allergic to dogs. Last year we got a maltese - after much research as to a dog that would be hypoallergenic - and my son has been fine, as in absolutely no allergic response to the dog.

But your friend should take some measures to help you feel better about the situation, like bathing the dog before the trip, making sure the dog is in the carrier, perhaps draping a sheet over the carrier, etc.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:27 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I should clarify that friend=husbands bosses wife who up to this point I have enjoyed a pleasant friendship with. I need to do some work on my self worth and saying no to things. I agreed to this as a if x and x and x falls through I'll be your fallback plan. That'll teach me to be accommodating. Thank you very much for the suggestions.
posted by ibakecake at 2:37 PM on May 12, 2012

Best answer: You aren't taking this too seriously, springing the dog at the last minute would be a dealbreaker for me (in my head, in reality, I would probably suck it up and resent the person forever, if truth be told).

I would, however, suggest that you let the husband's boss's wife know that you are both allergic, your husband extremely so, and therefore if she wants you to take the god, too, you will have to ask her to pay for cleaning the interior of the car after. If she goes for it, great; if not, you have your graceful out.
posted by looli at 2:48 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Dog, DOG! If you have god allergies, that's a whole other topic.
posted by looli at 2:49 PM on May 12, 2012 [14 favorites]

Best answer: I'd offer to duct-tape the dog to the roof of the car, but I'm an asshole that way (and allergic to Malteses, even if they claim to be hypo-allegenic) (and I also just quit smoking so I'm extra-cranky).

Or offer to drive her in HER car, which she can pollute up any way she likes.
posted by DaveP at 2:49 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I transport dogs weekly to shelters and rescues. I'm not as allergic as you (obviously, or I couldn't do what I do), but if I'm not careful, I feel symptoms. The advice up thread to cover the whole dog bundle with a sheet, and then toss the sheet at the airport is what I'd do. Let your friend handle the crate and the sheet. Be prepared for the dog to complain at first, but most dogs are like babies - they fall asleep to the rhythm of the road. Get some kind of sturdy material - clean cardboard or plastic tarp, perhaps - to put down under the crate and up the back of the seat to protect the leather from scratches.

After the trip, get the car detailed right away, before stray whatevers sink down into impenetrable places. Consider sending your friend the bill for the detailing...

And seconding (thirding) that Malteses don't shed like other dogs. Their fur is almost like human hair. But they still have skin and drool that can affect allergies, so take a Claritin before you go.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:51 PM on May 12, 2012

I'm gonna go against the folks who are suggesting you drive the friend's car instead of your own: as a fellow allergy-sufferer, I know there's no way on earth I'd make it through a four hour round trip in a dog-owner's car, which probably has tons of dog residue all over it. You're gonna be far better off with a single two-hour trip with well-controlled doggie debris.

Heck, if you can, charge the dog owner for getting your car professionally cleaned!
posted by easily confused at 5:31 PM on May 12, 2012

Simple solution. Use her car. Use her gas.*
Take a Claritin.
Smile and be cordial, this time. Be busy next time.

Two hour drive plus cleaning your car! Why should you have to eat that cost?
Politely explain that your is out of commission if you're hesitating as to why you need to use her car, or suck it up and explain you can't have a dog in it--although prepare to have to argue the point, since people here seem to be forgiving of the breed.

And who knows, you may not be allergic, but is it worth it to you to find out you're not?
posted by BlueHorse at 5:40 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Keep in mind that a dog loose in the car is extremely dangerous, to both the dog and everyone else in the car (think flying missile in case of any accident). So having the dog crated up and the crated solidly belted in is a requirement for driving with a dog regardless of allergies. Taking the next step to covering the crate and reducing allergen spread is relatively easy once you've established that part, and I agree that a professional clean immediately afterwards is a great idea. Leather seats are actually helpful as fur and dander will wipe off. They also provide an excuse to have a decent thick sheet or similar wrapped around the crate as a way of avoiding scratches to the leather, with bonus allergen containment thrown in.
posted by shelleycat at 1:44 AM on May 13, 2012

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