It has come to my attention that some people have had some VERY bad experiences as volunteers for allergy trials and that they have considered removing themselves from our volunteer list.  We do not want that to happen as it is very important for allergy sufferers to be able to do their allergy trials before considering adding an AHT to their home.
For example:  Seven people descend upon the pet owner’s home (when they thought only a few were coming) 1 1/2 hrs EARLIER than scheduled….in that mix are very young children who are not watched properly and are overly active…opening the homeowner’s cabinets, asking for food, harassing the dogs, etc.  One would think the adults would try to control the kids’ behavior…but the adults were “busy” with the dogs.  The husband of the homeowner came home…wondered why the allergy trial that was supposed to be over by 2pm was still going on at 4pm…..the people didn’t take the hint to leave….unfortunate!
Please remember a few things when scheduling an allergy trial:
a) These people are volunteering their time to help you.
b) You are being welcomed into their home as guests.  Please be kind, courteous, and considerate.
c) If the homeowner has 3 hrs or 4 hrs dedicated for the trial, respect that.  Do not come before the designated appointment time and do not overstay your welcome.  If you feel you need a longer trial than what has been offered, it will need to be rescheduled.  Yes, we understand that some of you travel from very far away to complete the trial.  However, some owners have spouses that are not as supportive of the activity and we need to respect that.  So, when they are ready for the trial to end.  It needs to end.  Please work this out in advance so everyone is on the same page.
d) Do not bring people who are not allergic.  This is not an opportunity to just “meet” the breed.  That can be done at any location and doesn’t need to take hours.  If the adults are allergic, please find a place for the children to stay during the trial.  Parents…remember, it is heartbreaking for a child to watch you react and not be able to have the doggy.  Don’t bring them if they have no allergy issues! If the children are allergic, then by all means bring them, but remind them of their manners and the proper way to behave in someone else’s home (e.g. do not ask for food).  Please bring your children food/drinks/games whatever they’ll need.  Do not expect the homeowner to serve refreshments…this is not a party 🙂 
e) Parents…watch your children. If they are not behaving, you’ll need to terminate the trial.  I don’t care if you’ve driven 6 hrs….it is rude to allow the children to make the home owner feel uncomfortable.  If you were in their place, how would you feel?
f) Perhaps you should consider bringing the homeowner a gift/token of your appreciation for their time…or send them a thank you note…something so that they know that their effort was important and worthwhile!
Typical protocol when someone contacts us directly and/or through the club (AHTA) to do a trial:
1) They complete a questionnaire….about themselves, their family, their dog raising philosophy, pet history, etc.
2) I read it and ask questions about the responses.
3) They are asked to complete an Allergy Trial questionnaire that addresses the allergies specifically.  This is necessary to make sure I don’t send ppl into a home that has a cat if cat allergies are also a problem.  The questionnaire also has a section about how they take care of their allergies, what they’ll do in the event of a serious allergic reaction, and a place for them to absolve the AHTA, breeder, and/or home owner of any liability should they suffer any negative consequences from the trial.
4) I forward the questionnaires to the AHT owners in the area and ask if they are comfortable doing the visit.  Remember, this a favor that their doing and they have the right to decide they are not comfortable doing the trial.
5) If the AHT owner agrees, I forward their contact info to the allergic family (unless the AHT owner prefers to make initial contact).
6) The two parties set-up the trial and hopefully it goes well!
Ryan and I have done lots of allergy trials…some lasted only 15-mins…the child reacted immediately and as severely as he would have with a coated dog.  Other trials have lasted an entire day.  Every situation is different….every AHT owner is different and that needs to be respected.  What some people are willing to do, is not necessarily what another will do. If you are looking for a day long trial and the person closest to you can’t accommodate that…you have 2 choices….go with what they CAN do and be thankful and/or you’ll need to travel farther away to someone who can accommodate that.  Doing allergy trials is NOT a requirement to own an AHT.  These ppl are doing everyone a favor….right???
I hope this makes sense….please be considerate of all and make sure that the ppl doing the trials understand how thankful we are for their assistance!