Surprise! I has a dog.
July 20, 2010 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday, my girlfriend of two years bought a puppy that, due to circumstances, she really shouldn't have. What now?

I love dogs and I think that, given the right circumstances, getting a puppy can be an awesome thing to do, especially one this cute. Unfortunately there are just so many reasons why buying one now is such a bad idea. Consider the following:

1. She lives in a small apartment with two of my friends (with one more roommate maybe moving in next week) and two cats (plus a third cat from the new roommate). Can you say crowded?

2. She told no one she was going to get this dog. Sure she mentioned a dog she wanted, but actually going out and buying it is another thing entirely.

3. Naturally, the roommates who had no idea they were about to get a puppy without being consulted with are furious. They're the type who are extremely hard to upset, but this did the job nicely.

4. Her insane classes take her away from home for solid 10 hour blocks every day and sometimes require longer shifts or overnights. When does puppy get to go on walks in that schedule?

5. Her response to her roommate's protests: "I'll just keep it in my room all of the time." That strikes me as just about the worst idea, a dog has got to run and ramble.

6. This puppy came from a big chain pet store that I've heard is basically a puppy mill. This is unfortunate, but maybe taking the puppy back would be even more unfortunate.

7. Puppy was probably hella expensive. Especially for someone who basically lives on student loans and credit cards and has no real job or income.

The whole situation is pretty shitty. Literally everyone involved is upset with her over the puppy purchase (well, except maybe the one friend who totally played the puppy enabler role). I'm worried about the welfare of the puppy and I'm also worried this event (as well as a handful of past events) have got me seriously doubting the sanity and stability of my girlfriend. She seemed to have no idea of the burden that this puppy would place on those around her and almost no regard whatsoever for her roommate's protests.

I haven't spoken to her since yesterday's "surprise, here is a puppy!" meet and greet because I'm kind of waiting to get my ducks in row about how to handle the situation. Any advice Mefites?
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (51 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Seriously, make these points to her and if she won't listen, what can you possibly do?

If that doesn't work, notify her landlord.
posted by k8t at 12:29 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

A lot of your points strike me as none of your business. Her roommates mad? Not your problem. Whether or not should could afford it? Not your problem. Are you just looking for a reason to dump her? You can do so, if you want. And your girlfriend will have a puppy to console her, so it's practically a win-win.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:31 PM on July 20, 2010 [18 favorites]

I've known a few people who have made these impulsive pet decisions. They always involve some sort of outside factor. Is your girlfriend under a considerable amount of stress anywhere in her life? Has she expressed to you any emotional problems between the two of you or elsewhere in her personal life?

The dog will have to be given back to the pet store, but you don't really have a say in that. It should be your role to deliver the message to her as kindly and gently as possible that what she did was selfish and poorly thought out. Don't be mad at her - it wasn't malicious on her part, just ill conceived.

Again, look for the reason why she made this purchase. I can almost guarantee that there is something else going on here.
posted by Think_Long at 12:32 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

She should either return that dog or give it to someone responsible before it grows up to be an ill-trained adult that she abandons to a shelter.

Lines of argument:

1. That dog is going to piss on and chew up everything in her room if left alone for like 4, never mind 10 hours.
2. Pets are expensive.
3. Her roommates are going to kick her out because their apartment will shortly smell like shit and piss.
posted by ghharr at 12:37 PM on July 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'm worried about the welfare of the puppy and I'm also worried this event (as well as a handful of past events) have got me seriously doubting the sanity and stability of my girlfriend.

When a friend of mine began developing bipolar disorder, one of the first things she did (on an early mania) that tipped off friends and family was bought 3 kittens, on an impulse. I'm of course not saying "buying a puppy = bipolar disorder", but if this is part of pattern, it may be something to consider. (My friend is now medicated and happy and healthy and successful, for the record).
posted by brainmouse at 12:37 PM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]

You've dated her for two years... has she made extravagant purchases in the past with no regard for the consequences? That could be a red flag.

Otherwise, maybe she just wanted a puppy. And ThePinkSuperhero is correct, it doesn't really concern you unless it directly affects your life. It's not your job to calm the situation down between your girlfriend and her roommates - I assume they're all adults and can take care of the problem themselves.
posted by patheral at 12:37 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are you expected to speak on behalf of your friends/her roommates? Because that looks like it is the first three issues, that the roomies weren't consulted, weren't expecting and don't want to deal with this.

As far as money, are you afraid she is going to ask you for loans which you can't afford?

For the rest of it, yes, I agree with you, leaving a dog alone sucks for the dog. It may result in behaviour issues, bathroom/training problems in her bedroom, and possibly her resentment of the dog in general. I am glad you are thinking of the dog here. Think Long has a great point about asking why she did this, it really does beg the question. Does she typically do impulsive things? Does she understand that a dog needs care, and can't be left overnight?
posted by kellyblah at 12:38 PM on July 20, 2010

Wow. Yeah, that's a lot to chew. I'm really only going to talk to the issue of the puppy since I think you need to see these issues as seperate. The most important thing is to make sure the puppy is ok.

Ok, so she just got this puppy yesterday. Did she buy all the things she needs for the puppy because that can be really expensive. Is her puppy just going to pee in her room while she's at school because puppies really need to be let out fairly often (even my one and a half year old dog would have a hard time holding her bladder 10 Has she taken it to the vet. Puppies often come home with giardia (especially from chain stores) and that is going to make the puppy have diarrhea...a lot. Has she thought about these issues at all?

With her roomates being mad at her and everyone telling her this puppy was a bad decision, she is going to be defensive. I guess just try and be patient with her while explaining all these things. She probably feels like she's a bad person right now (or at least I guess that's how I would feel). Stress that it was a bad decision but that doesn't make her a bad person.
posted by whitetigereyes at 12:38 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

How much do you like the girl? Could you take care of the puppy?

There are basically three options:

1) Dump the girl. Easy, but no more girlfriend.

2) Take the hardline. There will definitely be some hurt feelings, and the end result will probably be similar to option 1.

3) Take care of the puppy yourself. Your girlfriend will like you, the puppy will like you, and the roommates will love you. But it's costly and difficult.

Good luck.
posted by jrockway at 12:40 PM on July 20, 2010

It's possible your girlfriend didn't fully think out all the responsibilities of owning a puppy.. but i don't think that makes her insane or unstable. Just irresponsible.

It might have been an impulse sort of thing. She might think a puppy will make her happy. She might be right.

What's done is done. I don't think you can convince her to take the puppy back.

If you're concerned about the puppy's welfare, then keep an eye on him. Look to see if he's miserable or underfed or just signs that she's not taking care of him very well. Then bring up points that maybe the puppy wasn't a good idea and she should find a new home for him.

I know that if you were my significant other.. and you told me you thought I wasn't sane or stable for buying a puppy.. I'd be upset at you.
posted by royalsong at 12:41 PM on July 20, 2010

k8t, are you seriously advising the OP to dump his girlfriend because she bought a pet?

Do not do this, because it is nuts. As has been mentioned, dealing with roommate politics is her problem, not yours, and is whether she can afford it or not.

The more relevant issue here is why she did it. Is there some sort of external pressure on her at the moment (school, family, you and her, etc)? More than one? In my admittedly limited experience with these sorts of situations people tend to use pets as an extension of sorts to solitude.

Basically: I'd sit down with her in a calm environment and ask her if she needs to talk about anything. You've been going out for two years, and the way your question's written certainly makes it sound like this behaviour is out of character and she's not normally the impulsive type.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 12:44 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm worried about the welfare of the puppy and I'm also worried this event (as well as a handful of past events) have got me seriously doubting the sanity and stability of my girlfriend. She seemed to have no idea of the burden that this puppy would place on those around her and almost no regard whatsoever for her roommate's protests.

Tell her this, carefully.
posted by two lights above the sea at 12:50 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

I do think deciding to buy a pet without telling other people can be a major relationship issue. But, per ThePinkSuperhero, your long list of reasons why it's "such a bad idea" right now don't seem very relevant to your relationship. Why exactly is it that you think this was not just a bad choice for her, but a bad thing for your relationship? Are we missing something?

To be clear, though, it may very well be "your business" for your girlfriend of two years to buy a puppy, since that decision is permanent for as long as the dog lives (or she sells the dog). Presumably if you stay together, you'll be moving in together at some point when she still has the dog. That seriously affects you. However, you don't seem averse to having a dog eventually, so I still don't see how it's a problem in the long or short term.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:51 PM on July 20, 2010

k8t, are you seriously advising the OP to dump his girlfriend because she bought a pet?

Do not do this, because it is nuts.

no it's not. i wish i had paid attention to the things in my ex's life that were none of my business because it showed a pattern of him shirking responsibilities and being bailed out of them by other people. then we moved in together and he shirked his responsibilities and i had to be the one to bail him out of them.

when trying to decide the validity of a partner in your life, pretty much everything is your business as far as determining their worth as a person and a lover.

as to the dog: call some no kill shelters and ask them what she should do. getting rid of a puppy is way easier than getting rid of an adult dog.
posted by nadawi at 12:53 PM on July 20, 2010 [25 favorites]

She/you don't have to take it back to the store, when she inevitably tires of the commitment (and the destructive powers of a neglected baby dog with too much alone time on its paws). If it's a purebred, there are breed rescue organizations (google [breed]+rescue+[your state or region]. It will find a home with someone who's delighted to take on the responsibility and heal it from any behavioral damage that results from this terrible impulse buy.
posted by availablelight at 12:54 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think that this is definitely the OP's business. They've been in a relationship for two years, and even if they're not living together they probably share a significant amount of their lives. That the girlfriend is introducing a radical new element to her life, and jeopardizing her relationship with her roommates, and imho under some type of emotional stress (I didn't say crazy), definitely falls in the OP's domain of "business".
posted by Think_Long at 12:55 PM on July 20, 2010 [8 favorites]

As others have said, it is much, much easier to adopt out puppies than it is to adopt out adult dogs. Please stress this point with her when you talk to her and then take the poor thing to a local rescue ASAP if you can get her to agree.
posted by Kimberly at 1:02 PM on July 20, 2010

I'm sorry, but the way you paint the picture, your girlfriend comes across as very self-absorbed and absolutely oblivious to the needs of the puppy and the concerns of anyone around her. If you can take in the puppy, great. If not, no-kill shelter or rescue group. It seems like all she is focused on "ooh cute puppy!" and does not even consider what leaving it alone for large chunks of time in a confined space (her room) will do for the puppy. So I'll tell you: she is setting the puppy up to become an unadoptable, unmanagable dog because it will have behavioral issues and likely separation anxiety. I'm sure it will have some horrible habits like chewing because it is bored out of its skull (and will probably destroy some of the roommmates' belongings, which will make relations there even better).

Yes, puppies are great, when one has the time and space for one. What she did was unbelievably selfish, and she needs to fix it, ASAP. She may have meant well, but did not think this out at all.
posted by bolognius maximus at 1:02 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Were I the OP, my primary concerns would be running a few questions past the girlfriend (in a compassionate way, if possible):

1. Does she realize that, objectively speaking, her decision was a poor one?
2. Will she will openly admit this?
3. Will she will take the necessary steps to remedy the situation?, and
4. Is she willing to sit down and discuss why Puppy-Gate '10 occurred and how to prevent similar things in the future?

It's not that she did something stupid - we ALL do stupid shit. I've done a ton of it myself. It's how we own up to it and deal with the consequences that speaks of our character. If each of the above questions unleashes a world of hurt/anger/fighting/confusion/abdication of responsibility... well, the OP has some serious thinking ahead of him - namely, he has to wonder whether he's going to wind up being his girlfriend's partner or her responsible grown-up figure.
posted by julthumbscrew at 1:05 PM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]

Tell her your concerns. Don't try to tell her what to do. Unless you are married or living together, it is really her business. Don't let her offload the extra work onto you.
posted by DarkForest at 1:06 PM on July 20, 2010

Unless you are married or living together, it is really her business.

No, this should not be in the present tense; a dog will be around for years. It's both of their business if they are living together or plan to in the future. (Plus, the OP already is at her apartment a lot.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:09 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

It's both of their business if they are living together or plan to in the future

That is likely to be one of his concerns and he should express it. Still it is up to her to decide if that is more important to her than the dog.
posted by DarkForest at 1:12 PM on July 20, 2010

I'd question anyone who's advising you that the puppy or her roommates aren't your concern. Frankly, she's dumped a huge bomb into the middle of your shared ecosphere. You mentioned that her roommates are your friends, and this is going to reflect on their opinion of her, and by extension, you. In an ideal world, perhaps not, but this world is far from ideal. When things get awkward, you'll be the one who helps her deal with it, possibly even having to take her side when things get rough with the roommates.

All I can say is this: cautiously question her motivations and capabilities, express your concern for her well-being, and evaluate how she sees your role in all of this, and whether she understands that this is an important thing. Projecting my own experiences, I would ask you to evaluate how she takes criticism on this -- I've dealt with more... histrionic personalities... that would lash out at anyone who wasn't enabling.
posted by mikeh at 1:13 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also, she should know that if the dog is being neglected, as she clearly stated (everyone is right, 10 hours in a room is like NO.), anybody--her roommates, neighbors, even you--can legitimately call the animal police on her, and she could legitimately pay a fine or be arrested. People take this kind of thing very seriously.
posted by Melismata at 1:15 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

That is likely to be one of his concerns and he should express it. Still it is up to her to decide if that is more important to her than the dog.

It's really not just "up to her" if they have any long-term plans of living together. It's a huge decision that people in a relationship should agree on before one of them decides to introduce a new animal (especially a dog) into the mix. Of course, it's "up to her" in the narrow, legalistic sense that she has the right to do it. But then, he has a right not to like it and to consider it an issue in their relationship.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:18 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

When a friend of mine began developing bipolar disorder, one of the first things she did (on an early mania) that tipped off friends and family was bought 3 kittens, on an impulse. I'm of course not saying "buying a puppy = bipolar disorder", but if this is part of pattern, it may be something to consider. (My friend is now medicated and happy and healthy and successful, for the record).

Yeah just dropping in to add that I have a relative with bipolar disorder, and one of the early things they did that was buy a puppy with little to no planning beforehand about the logistics of caring for an animal. Also not saying that "impulsive pet buying = bipolar"'s not unheard of, especially if part of a larger pattern.
posted by CarolynG at 1:28 PM on July 20, 2010

Is she completely stressed out by these insane classes? That might have triggered the impulse puppy purchase. And she might have regard for her roommates but not have thought about this in the heat of the moment, so now she is trying to justify her decisions by making it sound more rational.

I agree that this doesn't sound like a good environment for the puppy. Does she have family close by who might be able to adopt the puppy and give it a better situation?
posted by mrs. taters at 1:33 PM on July 20, 2010

Okay, I have bipolar disorder and have never bought a pet - puppy or otherwise - while manic. Buying a puppy does not equal bipolar. Regularly spending large amounts of money impulsively without regards for the consequences *is* a red flag and should be taken into account, but buying a pet on impulse? Plenty of normal, sane people do this every day.
posted by patheral at 1:34 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

In my opinion, this is the difference between "boyfriend" and "husband." As boyfriend, you really don't get input in her money, her living quarters, her decisions, even if you are always hanging out at her place with her roommates. Trying to make those decisions for her (not the two of you) is treating her like a child. You should not even want that role. Enjoy being a boyfriend; don't try being her parent, counselor, financial advisor.
posted by Houstonian at 1:39 PM on July 20, 2010

patheral - i think that's why everyone who has raised the issue has said buying a puppy doesn't not equal bipolar disorder but that i can be a red flag when taken into context of other large impulsive purchases made without regards to consequences.
posted by nadawi at 1:39 PM on July 20, 2010

Having been a roommate in a similar situation, I can say how terrible it is to come home to a pet that isn't yours to have it start gnawing on your ankles because your roommate hasn't gotten her shit together to go buy pet food. And that was a cat, not a full grown dog.

Take the dog back. She looses her money. It will be sold to another person. It'll be ok. The animals that really suffer in puppy mills aren't the puppies, as thats what they're making money selling. The mother dogs are the ones that suffer the most. She's already supported that puppy mill by buying the dog. No one, not even greedy chain stores, wants any harm to come to the puppy. They'll love selling the same thing twice.

You'll have to handle this delicately, there are some people that no matter how wrong they are, won't like to admit it. In fact, fighting with them will make them more steadfast in their error. It sounds like she's already got 3 people fighting her on this. Don't force her to defend herself. Say you're with her, and allow her to gracefully do the right thing.

I also think this is a pretty serious lack of judgement, and honestly it would make me reconsider my romantic relationship. I assume you're having sex? Be glad she choose an impulse puppy, instead of an impulse baby.
posted by fontophilic at 1:52 PM on July 20, 2010 [6 favorites]

Hi, just wanted to add to the pile of anecdata: when we were in our early twenties, a childhood friend of mine bought two puppies at the pet store with no thought to what she was going to do with them. She said she just wanted something to love her. They had multiple health problems from puppy mills, and she had no way to take care of them. This was very disturbing for the people who were close to her, as she had always been fairly responsible. This was about three months before her official diagnosis and commitment.
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 1:53 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like jrockway's number 3. She obviously needs something right now, perhaps something sweet and mushy as a counterpoint to your gorgeous intellectual approach. Your participation in this could be just the ticket.
posted by Mertonian at 2:08 PM on July 20, 2010

What really gets me confused here is that she did spend a lot of time thinking about the puppy's needs and then she went and got it anyway, despite the fact that she can't really meet all of those needs. There is absolutely no way a puppy will be OK alone in a room for even half of the time she needs it to.

This is key here. She exercised really, really poor judgement that calls her maturity and general suitability as a partner into question. Even if there's an underlying issue that caused her to do this, she should take responsibility for this situation (and do right by her roommates and the puppy), as well as look towards breaking her cycle of impulsive decision-making.

Houstonian is completely correct that you don't get to have a say in how she lives her life, but (and this is a great big but) if she's going to make problematic, destructive choices - particularly if she isn't cognizant of the problem - you're allowed to consider that to be a dealbreaker.
posted by thisjax at 2:29 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

your girlfriend will have a puppy to console her, so it's practically a win-win.

Except that there a now three beings in this situation, which makes this a win-win-lose, doesn't it.

And for everyone else who's telling the OP to mind his own business: a neglected animal is the business of anyone who's able to prevent that neglect.
posted by timeistight at 2:32 PM on July 20, 2010 [6 favorites]

it's "up to her" in the narrow, legalistic sense

No. Completely the opposite in fact: a mutual respect sense. Without that, they might as well split.
posted by DarkForest at 2:41 PM on July 20, 2010

Yes she is an adult that gets to make her own choices. But as her friend, you really need to (peacefully, respectfully) convince her that she is not prepared to raise a puppy and that this puppy will be extremely unhappy in this situation. Make it about the puppy's welfare, not her poor judgment or her roommates anger. Perhaps you could show her some sources that detail the general feeding/attention/training/bathroom requirements for a pup.
posted by gnutron at 2:42 PM on July 20, 2010

A few years ago, my then-girlfriend and I had just moved in together into an apartment, had just bought new furniture, and had friends over for dinner when she brought home a "free in the grocery store parking lot" dog. She's an animal lover, and a sucker for a sob story. Realizing instantly that I was the one who was going to wind up caring for the dog because I work out of my home office, I put my foot down and forbid it.

She, of course, got really, really mad at me. As in if-you-ask-my-now-wife-about-it-she-still-hasn't-forgiven-me mad at me. This is because I committed the dual unforgivable sins of being absolutely correct and having the audacity to presume to forbid anything to her when we were still really just getting to know one another.

You're almost certainly the one who's going to wind up scrubbing the poop out of the carpet. Take the dog back. Don't give in on this.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:46 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Is it possible that she honestly doesn't understand how much work a puppy/dog is? I did something similar many, many years ago, and it wasn't because I have any sort of psychological problems, it was because my family had NEVER had pets growing up. I mean, my roommates and boyfriend and I all went to the pound together to pick it out, so it wasn't quite as bad, but I very certainly was at my wits' end a week later when she was diagnosed with distemper (and projectile diarrhea) and the roommates/boyfriend pressured me to "do something about her."

Maybe she's just had cats (which I hear are less work) and she doesn't realize this will be different. Either way, unless you actually live with her, as in "pay rent on joint living quarters," I disagree with everyone that says you have an actual say in what happens to the dog. There is no "mutual respect issue" for how someone keeps their space who doesn't live with you. Just because you spend time at someone's place doesn't give you any sovereignty over that place. She did something shitty, but she didn't do it to *you*. She did it to the roommates, herself, and the dog.

I suspect once she realizes how much work it is in a few days, after it's peed on the floor and destroyed some of her stuff, she will be much more amenable to giving it up. To a good rescue organization, which you coincidentally will already have found. Spending a few days in a room won't be any worse for the puppy than spending those days in a tiny cage in the pet store. The roommate issue sucks, but you can't actually help her with the situation until she's ready to listen. You might point out, though, that if her roommates decide to kick her and her myriad of animals out, she won't be able to move all those animals in with you.
posted by wending my way at 3:18 PM on July 20, 2010

it's "up to her" in the narrow, legalistic sense

No. Completely the opposite in fact: a mutual respect sense. Without that, they might as well split.

No, in a "mutual respect sense," it is not just up to her. We don't know what their plans for living together are. If they're ever going to live together (quite likely since they've been together for 2 years), it matters to both of them. I don't see how this is even debatable.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:28 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

IMO, the replies telling you that you have little business in this, are doing you a disservice. They're not logically unsound, but I think decent people make potential dog abuse their business. There is an animal's life at stake here, and I think as this girl's partner you need to help her see that big picture. Not ignore it, not leave it at "everyone makes mistakes, and oh well I'm here for you if it gets tough," but help her truly understand that this is really tough to have gone into unprepared.

That involves asking her questions about her motivations and future intentions - really pushing at the details. Sit down with her and say that you're concerned about the situation, for everyone involved. How does she expect the puppy to behave? How familiar is she with daily care? What is she going to do if it needs an emergency vet visit? Does she understand the need for vaccinations? Etc., etc. If her responses seem like "good enough for me," though it may not be good for the dog, you have to explain that she may be called out on it by other people, and there's a chance that the dog might be taken away in the future. Not to mention that you, as her loving partner, would be very upset at the animal leading an unfulfilled and strained life as a result of her decisions. Tell her that you know she's a kind and generous person, but this animal needs more than she can provide and that's not fair.

Explain your points calmly, listen to her replies, and hopefully this will be sorted out. Let us know!
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 4:35 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

I once lived in a sharehouse with a crazy girl (possibly bipolar, definitely narcissistic and desperate for the kind of completely dependent attention that only a baby animal can give) who did this, although with a kitten. She'd leave it alone in her room all day with the TV on to entertain it (?) and it spent the whole time scratching the door, mewling piteously and soiling everything at or near ground level. We gave her a week to get rid of the kitten or move out. She moved out.

Afterwards, the room stank for weeks and steam cleaning did nothing. In your position I'd be making contingency plans for the chance that your girlfriend's housemates will be as intolerant of pet neglect as we were and kick her out of the apartment. What would you do if she turned up on your doorstep with a suitcase and the puppy?
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:58 PM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]

I'm baffled by the people saying that the roommate/apartment issues are none of your beeswax. You've made it clear that you're friends with the group, you spend a lot of time thereā€”it's not like your friends won't expect you to deal with the inevitable pooping-howling-chewing disaster.

Even if you'd never met these people and never crossed the threshold, I would think that the way she treated her friends and housemates would be of interest and concern to you, partner of two years.

The puppy has to go. You know that. There are many options, as others have mentioned.

How do you convince your girlfriend of this? I have no idea. If she were susceptible to rational argument, the puppy problem wouldn't exist.

Do you have any idea WHY she did this? Impulsive and financially/personally ill-advised decisions nearly always have some emotional basis. What does "having a dog" mean to her? Unconditional love? Post-collegiate freedom? Proxy-baby with you? Complete and tyrannical control? Responsible adulthood and independence?

She's reacting to deep stuff that she probably doesn't fully understand herself. But if you can get at WHY buying a puppy was important (v. buying power tools or shoes or Everclear or gelignite), then you both might get closer to figuring out what's really going on.
posted by dogrose at 5:25 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

She's going to have to learn this lesson the hard way. Possibly even the hardest way. She needs to take responsibility for her decision and the only thing anyone can do is ask her to leave if she can't maintain a clean environment and call the local equivalent of the Humane Society if the puppy becomes neglected (or worse).

I personally wouldn't be able to stay in a romantic relationship of any degree (or possibly any relationship level at all) with someone who basically guarantees animal neglect with their choices, and if you find yourself feeling the same way, she might be learning even more of a lesson.

Th law of repercussions is hard for some people to learn. Heck, most folks have to learn some form of it firsthand no matter how much advice and forewarning they get. She seems to need more of a crash course, and it's generally these folks who won't process thoughts like "I know what the needs are and that I can't meet them, yet I will still make this decision" who have to really fall hard to get this vital life skill.

Rather than inserting yourself betwixt her and the roomies, it's likely more wise to step out of the way and let her learn her lesson than try to be the middle man in this messed up situation.
posted by batmonkey at 5:57 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

ALL puppies in pet shops come from puppy mills, and supporting that unscrupulous industry is how it stays an industry (ethical dog breeders do not sell to pet stores, this is not my opinion, this is a fact). This is a living creature, its quality of life matters. It's horrifying to me that people think it's nobody's business or that a living creature should suffer to serve as a "lesson" to someone (but I am used to feeling horrified, since I work in a vet clinic and meet idiots who shouldn't have pets all the time). I think you should try to find a way to help her learn about how responsible people go about getting a dog (and how they decide when they are ready to do so). She should return this puppy, this is not a good situation for a dog. At least in a pet store it is getting socialized and getting medical care (ostensibly).
posted by biscotti at 6:27 PM on July 20, 2010 [7 favorites]

I hope the poster counters what's been said here with his own knowledge of the woman. All we know is that she bought a dog about 24 hours ago. We only have speculation about her reasons or motives, and she's not here to explain her side of the story. But collectively, we've tossed around ideas of mental illness and animal abuse, suggested that she's motivated by everything from stress to wanting babies, and encouraged him to be patronizing to her and make decisions for her, taking action into his own hands in an area that is not his home.

All this, and all we know for sure is that she bought a dog. Maybe she's lucky to have a guy around who's got her all figured out, and who knows what's best for her, and who has girded himself by talking it up with her roommates and friends (behind her back, right?). But you know, if you make a stand that you know best, then I hope you're right. It seems to me this could backfire -- you make your stand, and she makes hers, and your two-year relationship with a woman who lives with all your friends and in your usual hangout could go up in smoke.
posted by Houstonian at 7:08 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

All we know is that she bought a dog about 24 hours ago.

poppycock. we know more than that unless the OP is willfully lying and you have no reason to accuse him of that.

we know:

she purchased a dog while living with roommates without discussion or permission and the house already has 3 cats.

she is away from the house for 10 hours at a time, sometimes overnight.

her solution is to lock the dog in her room for that whole time.

she lives on credit cards and has no real job or income.

this isn't the first blush of her acting out due to emotional needs/issues, but another incident in that column to the point that the OP is questioning his relationship with her and he brought this up as one of the subjects of the post.
posted by nadawi at 7:22 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

In addition to what nadawi listed, there's another relevant fact that we know, beyond just that she "bought a dog about 24 hours ago": we know that her roommates and boyfriend are very upset and think it's a really bad idea. They're the ones who are actually perceiving the real-world situation, not us. They're the ones (in addition to the girlfriend and the dog) who will be affected by the decision. I think their opinion counts for more than mine or yours, and we should defer to their view that buying the dog was a really bad idea. You're free to disagree with me and disregard their reaction, of course, but you still can't say we don't know about their reaction.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:30 PM on July 20, 2010

Okay, disregarding which side is correct about how much inherent right you have to tell her to get/not get a dog - you really only have one good option. Tell her, nonjudgmentally, what her options are and how unhappy the dog will be and support her while she figures out she needs to do the right thing. You can't just take the dog, as that would actually be illegal. You can't call animal control or the ASPCA right now unless she has started physically hurting it. All you can really do is either 1) ignore the situation entirely (doesn't help the dog) 2) dump her (still doesn't help the dog) or 3) find options for the dog and gently point out repercussions of keeping it (including possible homelessness). No browbeating and ultimatums. You could even check with the pet store to see what their return policy is and go with her to take it back.

Wait to have all these conversations about your future together and your rights in her life and her questionable emotional state and psychological needs until you've both calmed down and the puppy is taken care of.
posted by wending my way at 10:10 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

That puppy NEEDS TO GO. Even if the GF had the whole apartment, it still isn't enough space for a dog. And ten hours alone? Pure torture for that poor animal.

This dog is going to become psychotic if it is forced to endure that environment for any appreciable time.

If you're even remotely near Chicago, please let me know. I have been looking for a dog lately. My beloved Cairn Terrier died in '07 at the age of sixteen. I would be happy to rescue this poor little pup and give it a wonderful, loving home where it will have enough space to do what dogs are made to do.

I mean no one any ill will, but if that dog is forced to stay in that apartment, I really hope someone calls the animal cruelty folks.

Best of luck to you all (especially the puppy!).
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 2:22 AM on July 21, 2010

I am currently experiencing the consequences of a similar situation. My husband's ex-girlfriend brought a cute puppy home about four years ago, into a household with two humans who were away from home for the vast majority of the day. The puppy grew into a near-uncontrollable dog that has caused a lot of problems in our relationship. You and the roommates have an opportunity to prevent a major problem, and I hope you are able to. The dog should go back to the store, and you may want to reconsider your relationship with someone so immature as to bring home an animal into an unsuitable environment.

I disagree with anyone that is saying that the dog is none of your business. If you two are in a committed relationship with thoughts about your future, this dog could be a part of that future. Dogs live for 10-15 years, and you could be dealing with the consequences of an untrained, unsocialized dog for that time, if you are still together. Depending on the breed and personality of the dog, it could be a big deal or not a problem at all, but your life will certainly be different.

Good luck.
posted by emkelley at 6:24 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

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