Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My roommate and I wanted to get a dog together because our apartment was lonely. We ended up getting a cute little sheepdog, but I am allergic to him. He is so cute, and I do not want to get rid of him, but my allergies are killing me. I feel that it isn't fair to my roommate to not have a dog just because of me. I have started on an over-the-counter allergy regimen, which helps a little, but I don't know how long I can go always waking up stuffy. -- Allergic, Shreveport, La.

DEAR ALLERGIC: Too bad you did not realize you were allergic from the start. Since you agreed to get the dog, it is best for you to do all you can to figure out if you can cohabitate with it. Start by going to a doctor. There may be something more potent than over-the-counter allergy medication that can help you.

You and your roommate should also be vigilant about vacuuming and dusting. Sheepdogs have long hair that sheds. Do your best to limit the amount of dander that lingers in the air. To achieve that, you have to clean constantly. You should keep your bedroom off-limits to the dog. Close the door. Let your roommate know that the dog can never enter your room. You can also limit how much you touch the dog. You can be kind and loving without petting, even though it may seem hard to do.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother is dating my ex-girlfriend, and while I told him it was OK and that it didn't bother me, it does. I don't have feelings for her or anything, but I feel odd knowing that my little brother is dating her. They look happy together, and I do not want to say anything to my brother that will upset him or make him break up with her just because of me. -- Misgivings, Washington, D.C.

DEAR MISGIVINGS: It is only natural for it to be tough for someone you love to date someone you once dated, especially if you and the former girlfriend were close. On the one hand, it was big of you to give your brother permission to date her. Even more, it was respectful of your brother to ask you. Still, that doesn't change the reality that you are dealing with today.

Seeing their relationship play out in real life would have to be difficult, at least at first. I do not think you should say anything to your brother. Instead, live your life. If you are dating someone, focus your energy on that relationship rather than your brother's. If you are not, go about your daily activities with gusto. Stay in the moment and resist obsessing over what your brother and she are doing.

Be kind and cordial to her when she is around. Decide that you will be able to accept them as a couple. Over time, with that intention, you should be able to make that happen.