Before I came in to work this morning, I spent a half-hour handing out Mary MacDonald campaign literature at the Grandin LRT station. While chatting with a couple of voters, I petted their large, friendly poodle - something I usually avoid because of my allergies. But when you're on the campaign trail, shunning beloved pets can create a bad impression. So I gave the dog's head a couple of pats, handed over a flyer to its owners and moved on to the next person.
I haven't had an allergic reaction this bad since I was 11 or 12, when a tiny puppy sent me to the emergency room in Nipawin, Saskatchewan. After a half-hour in the same room with that dog, I couldn't breathe except by sucking in air with all the strength in my lungs through a nearly-closed windpipe. Fortunately the nurse on duty knew just what to do, and jabbed a needle in my butt filled with some kind of elixir that immediately opened up my airway. I'll never forget how glorious that first breath after the shot felt: it was full of the thrill of being alive.
Today's reaction is a minor annoyance compared to that scary experience. Still, I guess it's a reminder that I shouldn't forget that my childhood allergies remain. So if you see me on another campaign and I avoid your dog or cat, please don't take offense!
Nor should anyone forget to vote today. Whatever happens, it looks like this could be one of the most fascinating election results in years, and we all have a role to play in making history of one sort or another. If there's one thing no one should be allergic to, it's the ballot box.