Tough decisions regarding my dog
July 22, 2010 11:59 AM   Subscribe

I adopted a dog a few years ago and now I'm considering the possibility of giving her up. I feel awful about it and I'm not sure what to do. Good reason for doing it: starting med school. Not sure if it's a good or bad reason: Boyfriend hates her. Really long, but if you can handle it, I'd love some insight.

(If this sounds familiar, it's because I posted my story as a response to someone else's AskMe. I wanted to keep this particular question anonymous so that if my SO stumbles across it, he won't be able to see all my other posts. Also, I am not really looking for relationship advice based on my previous AskMes. Thanks.)

About 4 years ago I adopted a dog from a rescue organization. At the time I was single and had a full time job, and was able to balance it pretty well. I had grown up with a dog, so I felt like knew what I was getting into. Also, I was having kind of a hard time dealing with the absence of my dog who had died. At the time when I got her, the idea of medical school was just an incredibly long-shot, passing sort of dream (so i thought.) basically, even though i had considered it, i thought the chance of it actually happening was maybe 1% (having recently graduated with an unrelated degree, and working as a bank teller at the time.) it seemed like too far-fetched of an idea to actually plan ahead for it. Anyway, fast forward to now. I am amazed and thrilled to have gotten not one but a few acceptances, and I'll be starting in a few weeks. I'm not so worried about the first 2 years, but I know what 3rd year and residency will be like, which is arguably the better reason for helping my dog find a new home. the stickier situation is with my boyfriend.

my boyfriend doesn't like the dog. when we were first together, i thought it was a fling and not anything long-term, so i didn't bother caring about whether he liked the dog or not. As things went along and started to get more serious, it crossed my mind that it might become a problem, but since I didn't know what to do about it I just kind of ignored it. Unfortunately, I think he did the same (keeping his feelings about it to himself in order to keep the peace.) For the first year, we lived in separate apartments. then I ended up having to move into his dog-unfriendly apartment for financial reasons, and my mom took care of the dog until we could move into a dog-friendly one. (So we have lived together both with and without her.) Well, things have been difficult since we have been living together, with her. I guess I just figured that since he agreed to the situation, he knew what he was getting into and was willing to cope with it. But it's been very hard on him, which is making it hard on me, which is making it hard on the dog. The last several times we've gotten into arguments about various stuff, the subject of the dog has come up as something we might potentially break up over. I'm really frustrated, because originally I thought that it was bullshit that he'd break up with me over a dog, especially a dog he's been aware of throughout our whole relationship. But I can also see how maybe he just tried to tell himself it wouldn't be so bad, and then it turned out to be more than he could deal with. if i had ust gotten her without asking, while we were already together, then it would be 100% my fault. but it feels harder because i already had her!

Obviously, if I did give her up, it would make him happy. But it also worries me that it would give him the impression that I am willing to go against my convictions just to make him happy. or, that it was some sort of power struggle and he won. although i can say it's also because of the medical school thing- and it is- we've been having this conflict for long enough now that i have to wonder how much of it IS his influence. sorry if this is starting to ramble; here's why it matters. although our relationship has been difficult at times, we both recognize that we have something good going and want to try to make it work/ improve. one of the big issues was that he could be rather immature and selfish at times at the beginning of our relationship (thanks to, i think, a pandering mother, and no previous serious relationships.) I think he has come a long way on that, and I can see how he makes an effort for me, but occasionally he is still selfish and immature and unwilling to compromise. I am having a hard time deciding whether the dog situation is something that falls in this category. at first, i thought it was, but now that we've been in the situation for a few months, and how he keeps trying, now i am not so sure. i also used to think that if he really loved me, he could find a way to make peace with my dog. now i don't know if that's true or not. is it unreasonable for me to think that? is it unreasonable for him to think that if i really loved him, i'd get rid of her?

i really do love my dog, and I would feel extreme (probably unbearable for a while) guilt if I ever gave her up. i would feel like a failure, and like an asshole. i hate to admit this, but i would also probably feel a bit of relief. when she was at my mom's, although i really missed her, my life was easier. and again, i have 3rd and 4th year plus residency to think about. (She is quite small, and pee pad trained, so she CAN be left for a while. I'd just feel bad leaving her because she likes being around people.)

so if i gave her up, would i be doing the right thing, or would i be letting my boyfriend manipulate me into getting his way? or would i simply be making a reasonable compromise/ sacrifice? if i give up my dog, am i just giving in to his pressure and letting him get his way?

I'd love to hear thoughts from everyone. Especially- people who have been on the opposite side (my boyfriends side) and how you dealt with it. People who have been through med school and residency and can tell me honestly how bad it could be with a dog (this is especially important because, despite our best efforts, i realize SO and i might break up at some point anyway, so i need to consider the impact this would have on my life outside him and our relationship.) People who have had to give up a pet for one reason or another, and whether they felt they did the right thing, how they dealt with the guilt, etc. People who have given up a pet at the insistence of an SO and later regretted it.

oh and one more strange P.S. i dated, and lived with, another guy before this one. he LOVED my dog. they really bonded, and she loved him too. in fact, when i broke up with him i could swear he was more sad about leaving her than me. would it be, like, highly inappropriate to contact him to see if he wanted to adopt her if i decide to go that route? i can't decide if he would be either thrilled to reunite with her, or think i was a huge crazy bitch. maybe both. after living with my dog (his first time living with one) he expressed interest in getting his own dog, same breed, so i know he wants one. i know the idea seems really strange but . . . i think she would be really happy with him.

god, i'm even more confused after writing this than i was before. hopefully i hit all the high points. throwaway email @ JaneDoeAndHerDog@hotmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (54 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Longtime dog lover here. It's a tough choice, but the dog deserves an owner who loves her unconditionally. So find a wonderful home for her and then, in time, everybody will have what they need.
posted by charris5005 at 12:04 PM on July 22, 2010


You don't say *why* your boyfriend doesn't like the dog. Is it just annoyance at having an animal around, period, or is it something more specific like the dog having certain behaviours or he doesn't like having to walk it or something of that sort? If you were to address the specific reasons for his dislike of the dog, maybe this could be resolved.

If it should come to the point of you having to give up the dog, by all means contact your ex as a possible adopter. If he's a decent guy (and surely he must be, or you wouldn't be considering him) the worst that can happen is he'll say no). And you need to put the dog's best interests over any possible awkwardness that may ensue.
posted by orange swan at 12:09 PM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Contact your ex and see if he wants the dog.

In any case, the dog is making your life very tense - and as you yourself can see, that's not good for the dog either. She deserves a relaxed environment, and so do you.

Take your time, but do find the dog the right home - which doesn't seem to be yours at the moment.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:13 PM on July 22, 2010


There's no information about why this guy doesn't like your dog. Does he hate all dogs? (that would have been a deal-breaker for me, but everyone has their own deal-breakers).

if it were me, I think I'd keep the dog through the first two years of med school. If you're still with the BF at the end of those two years, and if it's too much to deal with because of residency, revisit it.

If you decide to give the dog up, I do not think you are out of line to check with the other guy, not at all.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:14 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you think you'll be able to take care of the dog for the next few years, I would cross this bridge when you come to it. It may be that, when it's time for clinicals and residencies and the like, you'll be able to work something out. I'm not sure where you are, but in my city and others I'm familiar with there are dog walkers, doggy day care, and the like which can help busy people take care of their pets.

I would not give up your dog just because your boyfriend "doesn't like" her. Unless she's bitten him or he's having panic attacks or something otherwise dangerous and unfair to both dog and boyfriend. If your boyfriend just isn't a dog person, well, he certainly knew about your dog when he decided to let you move in with him. He's a grownup and can live with the consequences of his own decisions.
posted by Sara C. at 12:15 PM on July 22, 2010 [12 favorites]


Long time non-dog lover here. I would break up with someone over a dog. Though, there's a zero percent change I would ever move into a house with a dog in the first place. For me, it would absolutely be a condition of our continuing relationship. I would choose not living a dog over being with a person I loved very much. That is how much I don't like dogs.

It's hard to tell how much he doesn't like dogs -- but if he doesn't like them a lot... it seems like he's tried really hard to adapt to the situation, and he still hates it. It doesn't seem like he's "maniuplating" you -- at least not any more than you've manipulated him into living with a dog he doesn't like. It's not like he's given you a "the dog or me" ultimatum, or tried to trick you into giving up the dog, he's said he doesn't like the dog, put up with it a long time, lived with it, tried to adapt, and he still doesn't like the dog. He's been honest about his feelings about the dog -- that's pretty much the opposite of manipulating you.

If it is, as orange swan suggested, specific things about the dog he doesn't like, then you can look into fixing those things. But you might have to choose which you want to live with more: the boyfriend or the dog.
posted by brainmouse at 12:16 PM on July 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh, and BTW I know quite a few med students who have dogs. They seem to be getting along just fine. I don't think having a dog and a residency are mutually exclusive.
posted by Sara C. at 12:17 PM on July 22, 2010


The busy part of med school is two years from now. For a minute let's forget about that being an issue. You don't know for sure how things will be in two years.

Right now, you have an SO who hates your dog. Why does he hate your dog? Does he just hate dogs in general? Is he allergic? Is he afraid? I would want to know the reason.

I would never stay with someone who wanted me to give up my dog. Why does he want you to give up a living creature that you love?

I feel like there is something terribly wrong with your boyfriend. It seems to me he lacks basic empathy and shirks responsibility. He knew you had a dog when you met and if he detested them that much, he should never have let the relationship become serious.

He knows you have a responsibility to take care of your dog. He knows you love your dog. If he's so flippant about getting rid of a dog and shirking his responsibility, I can only imagine he's irresponsible in other areas. To me, it does seem immature and selfish to ask you to shirk your responsibility for your dog. It seems selfish that you wants to take you away from something you love. It shows he has no empathy for you or your dog. It fact, it strikes me as selfish and cruel on his part.

It seems horrible that he would feel happy about you giving up your dog, while you were sad over it.

i also used to think that if he really loved me, he could find a way to make peace with my dog

I agree with this. Unless he is so allergic to the dog that he will die if he goes near it, then I know I certainly wouldn't feel loved by this guy.

I absolutely adore dogs, so maybe my love for them is clouding me opinion, but if I was in your situation, I would run far, far away from this guy.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:22 PM on July 22, 2010 [12 favorites]


i also used to think that if he really loved me, he could find a way to make peace with my dog. now i don't know if that's true or not. is it unreasonable for me to think that? is it unreasonable for him to think that if i really loved him, i'd get rid of her?

Both of these positions are unreasonable. Love does not erase conflict. It can make sacrifice worthwhile, but it doesn't make it feel good. Furthermore, you don't want to establish the precedent that "if you really loved me..." is an okay way to negotiate such conflicts; do that, and it will suck all the love right out of you both. Drop that habit like a hot rock.

As far as the dog goes, your responsibility is to see that the dog is taken care of, not to do it yourself. If you decide that you're better off without her, then your ex-boyfriend sounds like an option worth looking into.
posted by jon1270 at 12:26 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sounds like you have enough time to do this properly. Contact your ex, see if you have a family member that wants the dog, or contact a rescue organization in your area.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:28 PM on July 22, 2010


I think you should contact your ex to see if he'd like the dog, because that seems like it would be an ideal solution--your dog would be with someone who loved it and cared for it, and you would not need to feel guilty, because it isn't as though you would be giving your dog away to a stranger.

I'm a dog-not-liker, and I would sooner break up with a person than live with a dog (unless the dog were really old and quiet and acted like a rug). It does sound like your boyfriend tried, but for people who don't like dogs, being around one all the time takes its toll. However, he did agree to live with you and the dog. I also believe that when you adopt an animal, you should think of it as marrying the animal: It's permanent. Giving the dog to your ex, who the dog loved and who loves the dog, is an acceptable solution for this difficult situation, but I think it would be really bad to bring the dog to a shelter or something.

Dog-loving vs. dog-disliking is one of those seemingly trivial things that actually turn out to be really important. I'm a cat person and I would have a hard time with someone who loathed cats.
posted by millipede at 12:28 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, med students are fine with dogs, in fact can find them a comfort. Your guy knew you had a dog - personally, if you really, really wanted to keep your dog, then it would be up to him to figure out if he wanted to deal with it, or if he wanted to move on.

But you said if it would be a bit of a relief if you gave her up. That's the primary thing in my mind. So make it your job to find your dog a great home, and realize that regardless of your guilt, how crappy your boyfriend is being, etc. - the kindest thing you can do is think of what's best for your dog. Which is to find your dog the best home possible.
posted by anitanita at 12:28 PM on July 22, 2010


Wow, it's opinions like parakeetdog's that are why I generally dislike pet owners, and try to avoid them most of the time.

I feel like there is something terribly wrong with your boyfriend. It seems to me he lacks basic empathy and shirks responsibility. He knew you had a dog when you met and if he detested them that much, he should never have let the relationship become serious.

Because he was TRYING to like the dog, and he hasn't succeeded. He put in effort to adapt to something he didn't like because he DID understand how much it meant to her, even though he maybe couldn't understand WHY (I have never been able to understand, really, why people like dogs. I had pets growing up and I still just. don't. get it.)

I feel like there is something terribly wrong with your boyfriend. It seems to me he lacks basic empathy and shirks responsibility. He knew you had a dog when you met and if he detested them that much, he should never have let the relationship become serious. ... It fact, it strikes me as selfish and cruel on his part.

That's a really, truly, horrible thing to say about someone just because they don't like dogs. I'm honestly shaking as I write this because I'm so angry by you saying that. It's really, really, a judgmental and awful thing to say. I have no empathy and no sense of responsibility because I don't like animals? I'm selfish and cruel because I don't like animals? He makes an honest attempt to get along with the dog, learn to live with the dog, and he's a bad person because he didn't just dump her immediately instead of trying?

i also used to think that if he really loved me, he could find a way to make peace with my dog

I think if you really loved him, you would be willing to get rid of the dog for him.

I really, really hope I never have to interact closely with someone like parakeetdog, because saying things like that are, in my opinion, indefensible and awful.
posted by brainmouse at 12:29 PM on July 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


I have several friends who have dogs that have been with them through med school and residency. I don't think that your school/career plan is incompatible with having a dog.

To me it sounds like your boyfriend's attitude towards the dog is the big problem. Without more details on why your boyfriend doesn't like your dog it's hard to figure out what's going on. Does your dog behave aggressively towards him? Then it would be very reasonable to consider giving her up. If that's not the case, you might want to consider that he might be manipulating you (especially since you mention that your relationship is difficult at times, and that this might be a power struggle).

I have also had a serious relationship where my boyfriend did not like my pet (a cat). The boyfriend is gone and my cat is still here...
posted by shrabster at 12:29 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


i also used to think that if he really loved me, he could find a way to make peace with my dog. now i don't know if that's true or not. is it unreasonable for me to think that?

My husband does not like dogs. He doesn't loathe dogs, but he would be perfectly content living a dog free life. When we got together, I had two dogs. One has since passed of old age, but the younger dog is still with us and my husband deals. He even takes him for walks and pets him. He says that dogs are the "cost of doing business" with me.

is it unreasonable for him to think that if i really loved him, i'd get rid of her?

Yes. She's not a couch to be put on the curb when she's inconvenient, she's a dog.

Why don't you see how it goes with medical school? You don't know what your life is going to be like in two years.
posted by crankylex at 12:34 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you could contact one of the mods to have them post the "why does he hate the dog" answer everyone is wanting, it might help narrow down the answers you need. Personally, my stance is that he knew there was a dog involved, and if he had any prior expectations of you just giving her up once your relationship became serious, he's got some apologizing to do. (Or he could be a wonderful individual who tried very hard to adapt, but ultimately can't do it.) I believe that you and the dog are part of the same package, and it's unfair to you to have to split up because someone else, even if there's love in the air, cannot tolerate your pet. He tried, he can't do it, and if he can't do it with any dog at all, maybe it's time to decide if this is the best long-term choice for you. Will you be able to live without a dog for the rest of your life? Will you grow to resent him for keeping you dog-free? This particular animal can be adopted out, but if you stay with this person, it might be that you're not going to have another one. Take that into consideration if he has problems with all dogs in general. But if it's something with your specific dog, please let us know what the issue is!
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 12:37 PM on July 22, 2010


Brainmouse, I can see how Parakeetdog's comment feels inflammatory, but it might help not to take their assessment of the OP's boyfriend as an attack on you.

I do think think that this is different for the OP - their boyfriend knew they had a dog at the beginning. It's really up to the boyfriend to make a decision, really. Usually, I'd say that they are the one who needs to decide if they see a future with a person who has a dog. But here, it seems like the OP is wavering for reasons other than the boyfriend's dislike. Which is okay. It's not just about her, but where the dog would be happiest. So perhaps the dog would be better somewhere else.
posted by anitanita at 12:37 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Brainmouse, I can see how Parakeetdog's comment feels inflammatory, but it might help not to take their assessment of the OP's boyfriend as an attack on you.

You're right, and I'm sorry. But the post didn't have a lot of info on what the boyfriend was actually feeling, and it really looks like parakeetdog's post doesn't care why, just that he doesn't like dogs so he's a bad person in all these ways. You're right though, that I took it too much as a personal attack.

I do think that people like the OP and parakeetdog need to understand, though, that not liking dogs is not a character flaw, and does not mean people are bad people in other ways. If the OP does understand that but then great, and I didn't need to react so strongly... if the OP feels like it looks like parakeetdog feels about people who don't like animals, that not liking dogs means their a bad person... then your boyfriend deserves better.
posted by brainmouse at 12:43 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, the bigger picture here is staying with him means no more dogs ever. I personally would not make a commitment to someone who does not like pets. That is not the kind of life I would like to live, but you have to make that decision for yourself.
posted by crankylex at 12:44 PM on July 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


i also used to think that if he really loved me, he could find a way to make peace with my dog

I think if you really loved him, you would be willing to get rid of the dog for him.

The issue here is change. Something has to change, and someone has to give something up. I think things like this operate Last In First Out.

1. She got the dog
2. She got the boyfriend
3. The boyfriend doesn't like the dog

When the boyfriend came into the situation, (1) was a given. She had the dog, that was the situation the boyfriend knew he was getting himself into. The first thing that should come up is the fact that he doesn't like the dog. Without knowing why he doesn't like it we can't do much, but this is where the conversation should start. The onus is on him, as someone coming into a situation with a dog, to deal with the dog.

Giving her a guilt trip about how If She Loved Him She Would Give Up The Dog when she's had the dog for 4 years is bullshit.

It's a little over the top, but think about it like she had kids. When you start dating someone with kids, you realize kids are part of the equation, and you don't operate thinking that your partner is going to give them up for adoption once you start getting serious.
posted by soma lkzx at 12:45 PM on July 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


For once in my life, I am going to paraphrase Lady Gaga, specifically her advice to women in general (on choosing between love and a career):

When you are forty years old, the dog will not wake up one morning and tell you that she doesn't love you anymore.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:47 PM on July 22, 2010 [22 favorites]


Speaking as an animal lover I really feel like the priority is the dog and what is best for her. Set aside whether or not giving her away means you're being manipulated or a jerk. What is your dog's life going to be like in any given scenario? If you boyfriend can "tolerate" her, will he take care of her when you're not around? Will you resent her if your relationship ends over her? Is your dog a bigger priority than your boyfriend? Although I have my own opinions about that, I also think that either priority is valid. Will you have time to care for her or make sure she's being cared for? I'm honestly not making judgments on your situation or what you end up doing, I think these are the kinds of questions you need to answer when making this decision.

For what it's worth, if you decide that everyone will be better off if you find a good home for her, I agree with others that it is completely reasonable to contact your ex to see if he wants the dog. Tell him you knew he was really attached to her and you wanted to find a loving home and thought of him immediately. Worse case scenario he says no.
posted by Kimberly at 12:51 PM on July 22, 2010


it really looks like parakeetdog's post doesn't care why, just that he doesn't like dogs so he's a bad person in all these ways.

I a non-dog-lover, and I didn't read it that way. I read it not as "he doesn't like dogs so therefore he's a bad person" but "if he's this callous about your feelings, he sounds selfish and unloving and like someone you shouldn't be with". Which, short of knowing what exactly the deal is between the boyfriend and the dog, I agree with.
posted by Sara C. at 12:53 PM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


you're using med school as an excuse to give in to your boyfriend.

i have these family members: wife and husband married 20 years, son has a baby and fucks off, mother to the baby isn't a very good mother - young, disinterested, dates abusive guys - wife pushes for the baby to live in the home to be basically raised by them. their marriage is in constant conflict and every time they fight, husband brings up the baby and how he doesn't want to raise his son's kid. wife finally relents and, after doing what she can to make sure the baby is safe, she sends the baby home. husband leaves her within a year. seems the baby was just something he said as an excuse to leave.* i realize we're talking about a dog and not a child, but the part about how your fights go stuck a nerve, i guess.

if he leaves you anyway, are you actually that worried about caring for a dog while going to med school?

ultimately, i agree with a lot of the posters - most important is the dog's safety and happiness. find a home where he will be loved. but don't lie to yourself that this has anything to do with your schedule that'll become busy 2 years from now.

*(fast forward 15 years, baby is now an angry, maladjusted teenager living with his grandmother, the "wife" in this story who is now the ex-wife. kid's father is still an absentee dad, now exhusband has basically nothing to do with his grandchild, and mom seems relieved that she's left with her other 3 kids and doesn't have to deal with the mess she made)
posted by nadawi at 12:57 PM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, I adore my pets and in my romantic, pre-husband past, I did dump a couple of boyfriends who wanted me to choose between them and my dog(s). It wasn't a tough choice, either.

Here's the thing, though, Ms. Anonymous. I'm not clear that you are really bonded yourself with your dog, because you said:

hate to admit this, but i would also probably feel a bit of relief. when she was at my mom's, although i really missed her, my life was easier.


If you love your dog, and you know best how you feel, then I think you can find ways to manage medical school and your dog. Dog day cares and dog walkers can be a big help.

If you like your dog but would find life simpler, easier, and better without her, then I'd look to your ex-boyfriend to see if he will take her or can assist you to help her to a good adoption.

As for your boyfriend, you also need to think hard about this relationship. If you love him best, and this is not a power play but a real problem for him (and I can't tell but assume so), then of course it is OK to adopt out your dog to a loving home for the sake of your BF. If you are not deeply committed, or if you love your dog best, then he'll need to do the figuring out in terms of how he will live with your dog in the picture.

The answers to this are in your own heart -- you need to think about which of these relationships is more significant to you. Both your dog and your BF have legitimate claims on you, so which you put first depends on where your affections really lie.
posted by bearwife at 12:59 PM on July 22, 2010


To me this also sounds like a communication issue. Have you actually talked with your boyfriend about the dog outside of a fight? Have you talked about why he doesn't like the dog, if improvements could be made to living situation as it is now in any way, or how he would feel about giving away the dog, or about any kind of pets in the future? There seems to be a lot of conjecture, but not much "he has said X." in your question. Whatever you decide to do with the dog (and I don't know if we have enough information to be extra helpful), you're both going to have to learn how to communicate with each other better about conflicts if you intend to stay together.
posted by questionsandanchors at 1:01 PM on July 22, 2010


I think there's a couple of things:

Why does he not like your dog? Is it all dogs or *your* dog specifically.

How important is it to you to have a pet, if it's *all* dogs? Some people cannot imagine living without cuddly mammals all over the place. (Me, for example.)

I cannot imagine that giving up an animal you love just to make him happy is going to end well, because I cannot see how it wouldn't lead to you being resentful and angry. (Of course, that's my own perspective coloring that. YMMV.)
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:06 PM on July 22, 2010


I don't see anything wrong with people who don't like animals. I see something wrong with a person who starts a relationship with someone, knowing she has a dog and loves the dog and then expects her to get rid of it like it's an ugly couch he doesn't like.

It's fine if people choose not to have animals in their lives.

I DO NOT think it's OK for a SO to expect her to get rid of that dog she owned before they even met. It seems cruel that he knows that she loves the dog and he still wants her to get rid of it.

If she suddenly decided to get a dog after they were already dating, I would definitely side with the boyfriend. In that case, I wouldn't think he was a jerk.

It seems in this case, that he is trying to get her to give up something she loves. That just seems needlessly mean to me.

I absolutely detest fish as pets. However, I wouldn't expect a boyfriend to get rid of them just because I don't like them. I would learn to live with the fish and maybe even learn to like them since they were a passion of his.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:13 PM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think there's a whole lot of speculation going on here that is pointless without some clarification from the OP via the mods.

Clarification# 1: The OP expressed the feeling that she felt less stress when the dog was with her mother and she was not the primary caretaker. This points to the fact that the dog is probably looked more on as a pet, not as a beloved family member. This is an entirely valid attitude, and it doesn't mean the pet will be harmed, mistreated or neglected in any way. So I think perhaps some of the "keep-the-dog-at-all-costs" implied hyperbole in this thread maybe a bit misguided. Kindly keep in mind that there are some people out there who do not feel the same way about their pets as they would a child, and (as someone who was raised on a farm) this doesn't make them bad people, and it's not a black-and-white issue. They are simply different from you, and you projecting your emotions / experience onto that is not helpful.

Ahem.

Clarification# 2: It would be nice to know the specifics of the issue(s) that the OP's boyfriend has with the dog. Really.

Clarification# 3: Beside all of this, seems to me from the tone of the OP's post that the dog right now is a constant source of STRESS and RESENTMENT. Stress on the part of the OP, and resentment (whether admitted or not) from the boyfriend. And also stress on him, and resentment from the OP that she has to worry about what to do with the dog. These are not good for any relationship, whether it is a pet/pet-owner relationship or a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.

My take is that the dog, the OP, the boyfriend (whether or not he goes or stays) and the residency will likely all be much better off without all this kerfuffle, and I think it well advised as several pointed out above to suck it up, call the ex and ask if he can take the dog. The next step would be to seek out a rescue organisation and/or search for a reputable home for the dog. Because it really doesn't sound like the dog is in an unconditionally loving home, more that it is well taken care of, but a constant source of stress and tension.

Honestly when all is said and done, it sounds like the dog would be better off in a loving, grateful-to-have-it, not-stressed-out home.

Last but not least, if the OP dumps the boyfriend over keeping the dog, there's a good chance she could end up resenting the dog for that, too.

Good luck OP, it sounds like a somewhat no-win situation you've got here. Congrats on the acceptance to med school!
posted by lonefrontranger at 1:16 PM on July 22, 2010


But it also worries me that it would give him the impression that I am willing to go against my convictions just to make him happy. or, that it was some sort of power struggle and he won.

occasionally he is still selfish and immature and unwilling to compromise. I am having a hard time deciding whether the dog situation is something that falls in this category.

so if i gave her up, would i be doing the right thing, or would i be letting my boyfriend manipulate me into getting his way? or would i simply be making a reasonable compromise/ sacrifice? if i give up my dog, am i just giving in to his pressure and letting him get his way?


I'm not sure that the dog is the real issue here.
posted by lucysparrow at 1:41 PM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


[few comments removed - folks answers need to be addresses to the question and not sniping at other commenters. ]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:42 PM on July 22, 2010


But to answer your question, it sounds like your dog is also causing you stress. So maybe it's better for you to help find the dog another home, possibly with your ex. I would definitely start there. But I still think you have some important relationship issues that aren't going to disappear once the dog does.
posted by lucysparrow at 1:47 PM on July 22, 2010


I'm not sure that the dog is the real issue here.

I was just about to re-post the same quotes as lucysparrow did.

As for the dog, it sounds like you wouldn't really mind getting rid of the dog, whether your boyfriend were in or out of the picture. So go forth and give the dog to your ex. You have a responsibility to make sure she has a good home, but you don't have a responsibility to keep a dog you may not want in your life.

But please look at what you've written about your boyfriend. If your communication with him is so poor that he may walk away from this complicated situation thinking that he's won a power struggle, the tension in your life will not leave with the dog.
posted by freshwater at 2:09 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Agreeing that we need to know why he doesn't like the dog. But to go with my imagination...

I am assuming she is well trained. Doesn't jump, doesn't bark, doesn't beg for attention or food, goes and lays down when you tell her to, knows to stay away when you are eating, knows her commands, knows to leave him alone, doesn't sleep in bed with you, etc.

If all these are in play and he still 'tolerates' the dog, then that's one thing. But if she doesn't have this down, this is where you have to start and give her a chance. If she knows the rules, she can be successful in the family unit. If she doesn't know the rules, you haven't been fair to either your dog or boyfriend.

My dog knows all the rules. If you come over and like dogs, she will have you pet her for hours. But if you come over and don't like dogs, you can tell her to go away, and you won't be pestered. (for high energy dogs, this means a ton of exercise...)

Also, I think it is o.k to contact your ex. Who knows, he may be pining for her.
posted by Vaike at 2:14 PM on July 22, 2010


I have to throw this out there:

Pets are a lot like children, they depend on us adults to take care of them. When/if you have a child, are you going to want to give he/she up because your boyfriend doesn't like said child or because you are going to be too busy? Why give up your dog because of these issues? You accepted the responsibility when you brought home the dog. IMHO, there are plenty of other men out there who will love you AND your pup. No one said life would be easy as a pet owner, however, it's something that you chose.
posted by zombiehoohaa at 2:16 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Agreed with lucysparrow. Note: I've never been to med school or had a dog. I don't hate dogs, but would be happy with a dog-free life. Would I live with a partner who had a dog? I dunno.

I think you really have to focus on YOU here and what you need. You're going into med school, which will be very busy and stressful. What would you need here? If you have a partner (whether or not it's your current or someone else) throughout your med school years, you'd need them to be supportive. If you still have your dog, what would you need? For her to not be needy and not require a ton of attention? I know that dogs can be great companions and are good excuses to get outside and exercise. Or would you need to know that she was in a caring environment? Or would you need to not have to worry about her needs?

I thought that it was bullshit that he'd break up with me over a dog, especially a dog he's been aware of throughout our whole relationship.
Yeah, but this is the first time he's had to live with the dog. It sounds like he was willing to try, even though he had misgivings about the dog. If he wants to break up with you over it, you'll think it's a BS reason, but for him, it's a legit reason. So it sounds like you're expecting him to get used to the dog. Maybe this is something that he just can't do.

But it also worries me that it would give him the impression that I am willing to go against my convictions just to make him happy.
You have to figure out what YOU want to do with the dog. He may think that you did it to make him happy, but he would be wrong. So you have to decide what you want. If you want to give away the dog so you don't have that responsibility during med school, then it's a bonus that the bf will be happy. But for some reason, you're not seeing it that way, and I think it's because your bf is kind of being jerky about this?

he is still selfish and immature and unwilling to compromise
I think what you need to understand here is that the dog might be a dealbreaker for him. The question is whether or not you can live with that. Let go of the thinking that the dog is a BS reason to break up. How is he when there is no dicussion about the dog? Is he still selfish, etc.? Is your bf someone you want to be with? Would you be willing to give up the dog to be with him if it was a dealbreak for him?

I am having a hard time deciding whether the dog situation is something that falls in this category.
I don't think it really matters. I think the reason why you've been having tough arguments about this is because he's only said that he hates the dog, and said he might break up with you about it. Has he said anything about what he needs? Given that he's immature, he might not be able to articulate his needs and it comes off as being manipulative and a power struggle and you feel like you have to give in to keep him happy. I don't think it helped that he was really trying to like the dog - because it gave you the impression that he was ok with it, when in fact it might not have been at all. I think he was unintentionally misleading (which is not manipulative), again maybe he's not good at stating his needs.

i also used to think that if he really loved me, he could find a way to make peace with my dog.
This is unreasonable. If that was true, then you could follow "if he really loved me" with ANYTHING. (e.g. climb mount everest tomorrow, find a cure for cancer...) Love doesn't make us superheroes.

When you didn't have the dog, you felt a relief. Let go of the guilt about this. This is your reality, and it's legit. If you feel you can't give her what she needs (being around people), then yes, give her to the ex-bf. If he can't take her, then you can find another home for her.

so if i gave her up, would i be doing the right thing etc. etc.
Give her up if it's the right thing for you. Keep her if it's the right thing for you. Same thing with your bf. Break up or stay with him if you think either is right for you.

tl;dr:i realize SO and i might break up at some point anyway,
A-ha. So all these thoughts about "am I giving in?" etc. are moot, if he's going to be out of the picture anyway. And it sounds like you're going to give the dog up too, so all this power struggle stuff... that's all you. So I think you have to figure out: is your bf someone you want to be with, and do you want to still care for your dog.
posted by foxjacket at 2:20 PM on July 22, 2010


I agree that it would be helpful to know more about why he hates the dog. For instance, I had a friend who gave up her cat when she moved in with her boyfriend, because he was horribly allergic. One of her roommates kept the cat and all was good. But that was for the sake of her boyfriend's physical health. And it was something she did completely willingly.

However, in the absence of that sort of info, I have to say that it always seems like a red flag when a romantic partner wants you to give up something or someone that you love.
posted by lunasol at 2:35 PM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seconding foxjacket's final sentence very strongly. I think you need to set aside the complicated narrative and face two simple questions: 1) Do you actually want to continue to be with your boyfriend? 2) Do you want to keep caring for your dog?

These are actually the essential issues here -- though putting them so starkly is no doubt a little scary -- and they're largely separate ones. But as long as you avoid the fundamental questions by mixing everything up into one elaborately complicated, detailed, guessing game ball of GRAR, I don't think you can come to any productive, healthy answers that are going to serve you (or your dog) well in the long run.
posted by scody at 2:37 PM on July 22, 2010


I think giving the dog to the ex sounds like a fantastic idea, as long as you are on decent terms with the ex and he wouldn't feel weird because it's 'your dog'. If enough time has passed and you're both well healed, I bet he would be thrilled to have a familiar friend back in his life, and it would make him and the dog really happy. It would also probably relieve some of your guilt to know the dog was in the best possible home you could find.

That is what I would do if I were more committed to my boyfriend than my dog. That is a big IF. Neither choice is wrong, but think long-term. Who do you think is going to be around in 5 years, the dog or the boyfriend?
posted by slow graffiti at 2:50 PM on July 22, 2010


I was married to a person going through medical school and residency, and we had a dog together. (We did not divorce due to the dog.)

I want to comment on how medical school will affect how often you can see the dog. Someone else upthread said that it would be a couple of years before things get really busy; I concur with that. My ex had mostly a normal schedule in the realm of 8-5 in the first two, even three years of medical school. After that, when she started to do rotations, there would be a couple of nights a week where she would either get home very late or be at the hospital all night, depending on the rotation. This is not counting study hours, of course, but she did those at home and was able to take a break to walk the dog. She liked to do this and it was part of her routine.

Residency was another story. Residency was hell. On many rotations, she was gone for 36 hours at a time three nights a week, with a weekend off every month (if she was lucky). YMMV, of course, depending on the type of residency you do. But my experience was that my ex-wife was rarely capable of fixing herself food in her off hours. Eventually I made a rule that she couldn't use the stove after she came home from call, because she would fall asleep with it on. (Should she have been taking care of patients at that level of exhaustion? That is another story.) The dog was entirely my responsibility.
Since I had a full-time job throughout all of this, I depended on the fact that I have family nearby that could stop in to see the dog if I couldn't get home until late or if I had to go out of town on business. It also helps that my dog has super bladder control and is a paragon of perfect behavior, I kid you not. (I love her so much.)

So, it was on me (the partner who was not in medical school) to take care of the dog for the five-six years of med school/residency while my partner was crazy busy. The first two years she could have handled it, though a nearby dogwalker would have probably been necessary once in awhile.

I don't really want to pass judgment on your partner and his dog issues, since I cannot relate. I would not make any sudden movements as far as getting rid of the dog until you've had a semester of medical school under your belt.

My ex took the cats when she left. I loved the cats. If she contacted me to take the cats because she couldn't handle them for awhile, I would take them immediately. But we do have a pretty good relationship.
posted by aabbbiee at 2:53 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was recently on the other side of a similar dog + significant other + med school equation. The difference in my situation is that I actually really liked the dog, I just did not like the circumstances surrounding the dog. Also, I'm assuming from your four years of experience that you are a responsible dog owner.

Let me see if I can help. The way I would approach your situation is to break it down into its component conflicts. Meaning, dog vs. medschool, boy vs. dog, and if I'm assuming correctly, you vs. boy. Decide what ending you want in each issue, and decide which issues are most important. I hope you can work out a solution that doesn't involve a leave the boy or leave the dog type situation, but that might not be possible.

My GF is in her last year of med school and her schedule is wildly inconsistent, depending on what rotation is happening and the whims of the doctors. There are overnights, there are 10, 12, or even 14+ hour days, but there are also empty weeks, weeks where she is done by noon every day. This isn't exactly dog friendly, but it is also 2 years away. I think you could probably find a way to make it work if you really wanted to.

I've dated a girl in the past that came with 2 super high energy dogs, and while I wasn't always crazy about the hi-jinks they got into I did my best to support her and her little fuzzballs. The way I see it is that those dogs predated me. The significant other and their pets are sort of a package deal and it shows some disrespect to waltz in and try kick the pets out. That said, your bf still doesn't like them, I'm not sure if there is anything that can be done to resolve that tension.

I could be reading into your post wrong, and I apologize if I'm way off the mark, but it sounds to me like you are already experiencing other non-dog-related relationship issues. I'm familiar with the kind of gravity and inertia that naturally pulls a couple together sometimes even when they aren't right for one another. Sometimes in situations like these its hard to see them, but if there are dealbreakers, you gotta break the deal. If there aren't and you see long future times with this boy, then do everything you can to keep boy, dog, and yourself happy. Situations like this can and will work themselves out if you give them time.

Sorry if I pulled a TL;DR out on you here. Feel free to mefi mail or send me something from your throwaway if you have any questions here.
posted by cirrostratus at 2:54 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"is it unreasonable for him to think that if i really loved him, i'd get rid of her?"

Yes.

However, you need to consider if you can be a good pet guardian or not. It sounds like you're leaning far toward "not". Since the ex has a good relationship with her, see if he'd like to take up being her forever-caretaker or not. If he doesn't, you'll need to ask yourself those hard questions scody & others have pointed out.
posted by batmonkey at 3:44 PM on July 22, 2010


I wouldn't want to date someone who was willing to break up with me over a dog. It's one thing if he has allergies - that can't be helped. But if he just doesn't like the dog? There are two issues there:

1. He doesn't like dogs? Who doesn't like dogs? I mean, I'm vaguely aware these people exist. But I don't think I would like any of them.

2. It sounds like he has no idea how much the dog means to you. I mean, obviously, if he's pressuring you to find the dog a different home. Someone with that little empathy, with so little regard for your own feelings, is probably going to end up being awful in other ways.

As for dog + med school, I'd wait and see. You never know. Maybe two days before med school something will happen and you'll decide not to go, but you will have already given your dog away. That would suck.

Don't find the dog a home proactively, is what I'm saying. If you can't take care of the dog, then find her a home - but don't re-home her just because you THINK you won't be able to take care of her.
posted by ErikaB at 4:16 PM on July 22, 2010


Haven't read all of the above, but will respond just to the med school part. I worked as a dog walker much of last year, and half my clients were in medicine. They hired me because they worked such long hours. The only dog I felt sorry for, though, was the one who belonged to the medical student, who lived alone far from her friends and her husband (who resided in another state) who was just not able to be home most of the time, for weeks at a time, and who was so tired she just slept and ate when she was there. I felt sorry for the student too, of course! She cared a great deal for her dog, and often had me coming 3 or 4 times a day for days at a time to be sure the dog got what she needed physically, but she never felt it was really enough. Add to this the pressure of a long-distance relationship and lack of local support as she was new to this city...just so hard.

My suggestion would be to contact your ex and ask him to take the dog, and if that feels too big to him, perhaps he could just take the dog during the period of your schooling. If not, start asking friends if they are looking for a dog. These situations will allow you to keep tabs on the dog, which will lessen your guilt, as you'll know the dog has a happy life. (That's how I got my own beloved dog, from folks who just couldn't care for her well at that time.)

It's going to hurt anyway, but I think your thoughtful approach to the question tells you much about what you know you should do.
posted by Riverine at 4:51 PM on July 22, 2010


(Adding to my above post that my client was a medical resident in her first year, not just a student.)
posted by Riverine at 5:01 PM on July 22, 2010


I would not go out with someone who knew I had a dog all along and wanted me to get rid of him. He moved in with you knowing he would be living with the dog. It's not fair of him now to expect you to get rid of it. Don't give away a dog based on something you think will happen in a few years. I only want to be with a guy who likes dogs, because I plan on always having dogs, but not everyone is as hardcore about dogs as I am. If you're a dog-lover and he hates dogs in general, you might want to think about whether this is going to work out in the future. If it's just a matter of this specific dog, then maybe see if the ex will take her.
posted by elpea at 6:19 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


First: can you contact the rescue organization that you adopted your dog from? Many rescue organizations ask you to sign a contract promising that you will return the animal you adopt to them in the event that you can care for it no longer. They may feel they are better equipped and more experienced to find the right home for your dog. They may also not want any of the animals they rescued to end up in an animal control shelter where there are high euthanasia rates.

If I were you, I'd say chances are, no matter how much I loved this dude, I'd break up with him sooner or later or he would with me for something unrelated to the dog. If I looked back and realized I had given up an animal I had promised to care for, an animal who loved me unconditionally, for some guy I dated for a while, I probably couldn't live with myself. Dogs are forever.

I don't know how old your dog is, but if you're thinking of keeping the dog for the first few years of school then maybe giving her up, that might not be a good option. It can be very hard to adopt out any dog who is 5+ years old. If your dog is young now, it may be easier to find her a home sooner rather than later.

If you do give your dog up to a rescue organization, please spend time writing a nice letter describing how awesome your dog is, and ask the organization to use that information on Petfinder and post it on the dog's kennel. Please give them as much information as possible about your dog, and please say the reason that you are giving your dog up is that you are starting med school. If you do not explicitly state the reason you're giving the dog up, people may assume bad stuff, like that your dog was too ill-behaved. Making sure to list all the good stuff your dog does is so very important. Let's say you detail how your dog knows "sit" and how when she met a baby for the first time she was gentle and respected the baby's space. That alone could increase your dog's adoption chances by a significant percentage.

You will know if you need to give up this dog for the right reasons and if that is going to mean a better home for your dog. You will feel your choice is in line with who you are and who you want to be.
posted by grayber at 10:29 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the OP:
Wow, guys. My question went up faster than I thought, I wasn't expecting 50 responses when I woke up! So I will try to answer all the questions. there were a lot though so bear with me.

About finding her a new home: yes, the rescue agency made me sign a contract that if I had to give her up, she would go back to them. but my dog's foster mom from the rescue has met said ex, and likes him, and i would write him a good recommendation, so i am certain they would approve this switch. it would certainly make their job easier if i already had someone in mind who they know and like. and if he did say no then she would be re-adopted through the rescue. so, i am not worried about that.

Anyway, why he doesn't like her. I think it just boils down to him:
-not being used to a dog
-being raised by mom who hates dogs
-thinks she is annoying and smells (as far as dog smells go, I'd put her in the low-to-average category. she's small, so it's not overpowering or anything.) also, she sheds, but not like . . . in a huge way. again, she's small, so it's only so much shedding. he is not allergic but sometimes i think he might be a germophobe.
she's really pretty well behaved. rarely barks, doesn't chew on stuff. i think another drawback is just that she likes attention and isn't afraid to ask for it. i've told him that if he really doesn't want to deal with her, he can just ignore her and she'll get bored and go lay down (this is not uncommon for me to do when i am working on homework or something.) i think maybe it's also like . . . he sees all the things that are bad about having a dog (limiting your freedom, her constant needs) and just can't understand why I would want that. overall, i think that he was raised in a way that taught him to be selfish and never really spent a lot of time thinking about the needs of others. since he's been with me, i think he is trying to turn that around, and he's actually come a long way, but . . . these things take time. sometimes he's ok with her, sometimes he isn't. i've also tried to work with him on establishing rules and routines for her for his benefit (she isn't allowed on this couch, when we leave we baby-gate her into this half of the apartment, etc.) but he doesn't seem to understand that dogs will happily break the rules if they aren't being enforced consistently. like when he doesn't gate her and he comes home annoyed to find her on the couch. i mean, hello, if you don't want her on the couch, that's what the gate is for. she isn't smart enough to resist temptation. oh, and she doesn't sleep in the bed. she used to, before him, but it seemed perfectly reasonable to me when he requested that she sleeps in her own space, and she's adjusted to it more or less fine. i also want to reassure everybody that, despite the stress, i am a good dog owner and try to do what i can to keep her happy and comfortable. long walks, kisses and cuddles, all that. she is not neglected. oh and for the record, i think that the relief i felt when my dog was away was not due to the fact that it's difficult for me to take care of her- it was because it was a relief to not have to hear SO complain about her.

so how did it get this far? why wasn't this a dealbreaker for either of us? well to be honest, i don't think either of us knew these issues were what they were until we actually got to this point. in the beginning, he was over at my place all the time. with her there. and although i knew he wasn't like, in love with her, we just weren't thinking about the future. he has never lived with a girlfriend or a dog before, so i can only imagine that his thoughts were not "i dont think i can do this" but "how bad could it really be?" i don't think either of us meant to trick or manipulate the other into this uncomfortable situation. we both just hoped for the best, and . . . now it's tough. anyway, for those of you who picked up on other relationship issues, you're correct that there's lots of other shit going on. it's just that if i dragged all that into the mix here, the question would be like a novel, so i am trying to focus on this particular aspect of it. in fact i am in the process now of trying to hammer out all the pros and cons of the relationship and it's possible i might decide to end it. its possible i might decide it's going to work. but in particular this is one issue i have been stubborn about and never even considered wavering on, so i thought that before i pull the trigger and make a final decision about our relationship, it would be worth considering all the possible solutions and outcomes- even the ones that make me very uncomfortable. this is one issue i haven't delved into much, mostly because of the guilt and sadness it makes me feel, but i have to face it eventually and think through my options, right? but just because i am thinking about this doesn't mean i am actually going to do it.

anyway, the other problem is, sometimes i do think he is starting to get used to her and like her. although i always tell him that i am in charge of taking care of her (so he doesnt have to) and that he doesn't need to walk her, a lot of the time he walks her when i'm gone anyway. or sometimes he will pick her up and pet her, or give her treats, or whatever. in general when he says that he can't stand her and the situation, its when we are fighting. although he hasn't given me an ultimatum yet, he has said (again, while fighting) that if we did break up, that would be why. but . . . he hasn't actually given me that ultimatum, and we haven't broken up. i dont know if he really means it or if he is just venting his frustration- but again, that's a whole other matter. (i have a good friend who just got married, who has been helping me through this a bit, and she told me that when she fights with her SO she is constantly saying stuff she doesn't mean and that i should take all of it with a big grain of salt.) personally, that isn't how i operate, so its hard for me to think that people say these things and don't really mean them, but . . . for all the talk of breaking up, we're still together. anyway, again, thats a whole other AskMe . . .

I appreciate everyone's input. I found it especially interesting that although I asked these two questions together: "i also used to think that if he really loved me, he could find a way to make peace with my dog. now i don't know if that's true or not. is it unreasonable for me to think that? is it unreasonable for him to think that if i really loved him, i'd get rid of her?" and yet people tended to separate them and only answer the one that aligned with the side they were on. it's a bitch, isn't it? both can't really be right or wrong. anyway, for those who are jumping on me about the first sentence of that quote, note that i said "USED TO think" that . . . now, i am so not sure.

to be completely honest, when i posted the original question, it was early. i was groggy and also still feeling shitty from a fight we'd had earlier in the week. (about various things but the dog came up.) and i wrote it at work, not at my house. then i thought about it all day, and when i came home and saw my dog, i felt sort of ridiculous for having asked this question in the first place. i guess i just needed reassurance that if i did have to give her up, it wouldn't make me the Worst Person Who Ever Lived. i just needed to know that it was an option. but to be honest, i have a feeling he'd get the boot long before she did. i just hope it doesn't have to come to that. in any case, i hope this question can serve as an important reminder to people about dealbreakers and why you should be careful when getting into a relationship where 2 people are on opposite sides of the fence on an issue. and how divisive an issue dogs can be . . . since i love her so much, and my ex loved her so much, it just never even occurred to me that i would meet a guy who was so NOT into my dog.

anyway, i think everyone is right that i should wait and see on this until i've actually started school. actually, that sort of seems like its going to be the test for my relationship with SO, too- whether we can survive this major lifestyle change. so i am not making any decisions right away, just wanted to throw my feelers out there and get some opinions. that way, if i do find myself at that bridge and needing to cross it, i know i've already weighed my options. also, i'm in between insurance right now (having graduated from one school, my coverage ended in may, and not yet started another whose coverage doesnt start til sept) so counseling for all my many issues isn't an option at this particular moment. but, once I start med school i'll have access to the assistance program and fully intend to utilize it . . . like immediately.

thanks again everybody. if you have more questions, feel free, i'll answer them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:03 AM on July 23, 2010


If it's just that your boyfriend didn't grow up with dogs and is upset about basic having-an-animal stuff like shedding, I wouldn't give up your dog just at his say-so.

I also grew up in a house without pets and a mom who is distinctly not an animal lover. I'm OK with cats because they are quiet and generally do their own thing, but dogs are a lot harder for me to deal with unless they are extremely unobtrusive. If I moved in with someone who had a dog, it would take some getting used to.

Because of this, I know that if your boyfriend is saying that he Can't Stand the presence of a small well-behaved animal enough to let you keep something you love in your life, he's being selfish and asking more of you than you should be expected to give. Maybe this is something he's working on, and he'll grow and stop being like this. But it's not something you should count on. Treat this as a warning sign or a symptom, is all I'm saying.
posted by Sara C. at 9:01 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


OP, after reading your update, I think you should dump the boyfriend and keep the dog. The dog isn't talking about breaking up with you.
posted by crankylex at 9:39 AM on July 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


If he's walking the dog of his own accord that sounds like major progress.

I don't think your issue is really about the dog.
posted by 6550 at 11:46 AM on July 23, 2010


I was waiting to hear why he hates the dog, because it really would make a difference if she shit in his shoe every morning, or something. But the reasons you've stated for his feelings don't seem very compelling.

Bringing up your normal little pet and trying to guilt you with it during arguments seems really manipulative – like he knows it will make you emotional and throw you off. So my advice would be to tell him to stop mentioning the dog in arguments, and enforce it.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:33 PM on July 23, 2010


I hate cats.

Hate them.

When I moved in with my boyfriend I knew it was a combo deal: him...and his old, smelly, shedmonster, hairball-hacking, yowling beastie.

But I put his love for the cat ahead of my annoyance. I look at from the whole "his happiness negates those hairballs" angle.

(In fact, sometimes when no one is looking I'll even pet the damn thing! ;) )

So I think you're making the right choice to keep your dog. I can't imagine asking the person you love to get rid of their pet because it is inconvenient to you at times.
posted by Windigo at 1:40 PM on July 23, 2010


I had a dog. I didn't know it, but I had unwittingly taught the dog to be a cock-block between me and my partner. Got divorced, kept the dog, got a great new relationship -- didn't want a dog that was a cock-block. Didn't want to keep seeing my ex to "share custody" -- ex couldn't take the dog full time. I loved that dog, I was a crazy dog person -- but she was coming between me and my great new guy. And at the end of the day, she WAS A DOG.

I heard Melissa Etheridge say that her dogs were her children -- UNTIL SHE HAD CHILDREN..and now their just dogs.

Found a new home for the dog -- where she is being adored by a 5 year old girl. She dresses the dog up and has tea parties, for heaven's sake. Dog loves to have "her" human -- never wanted to share me with other people.

Got married, love my husband, love my life. Glad I got rid of the dog. I think the dog is happy, too.
posted by vitabellosi at 5:33 PM on August 12, 2010


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