Boyfriend adopted a dog that wants to hunt my pet rabbit. Now what?
October 26, 2016 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Through his breeder/handler, my boyfriend was offered a retired showing dog, a beautiful 4 year old Dalmatian. We already live with my rabbit, a very sweet 9 year old male. As an avid rabbit owner who has also been badly bitten by a dog in the past, I expressed my concerns to my boyfriend, who went ahead and brought the dog home in spite of my qualms. The dog is showing signs of aggression toward my rabbit, and now I am really worried about what to do.

My boyfriend and I have been together for about 4.5 years. We rent a house together. He works, and I'm in-between jobs (with a promising career prospect coming up this very week!). We're both in our late 30s.

BF is already the owner of another retired Grand Champion show dog, now 14.5 yrs old, very sore in the joints, and who mostly sleeps all day. Old Dog has never remotely showed any signs of aggression toward any of my rabbits in the past. In fact, the rabbits trusted him so much, they'd climb into his dog bed and relax next to him!

My rabbit is a 9 year old Netherland Dwarf, a neutered rescue. I've had him since he was 6 months old. He is extremely mellow, as anyone who knows him would attest to. I had two other elderly rabbits; both passed away very suddenly this year. All of my rabbits have been "house rabbits", that is, litter- trained like a cat, and reside with us in the home as companions. BF knew this going in, and the bunnies have all come to know and love him, and they all got along with Old Dog.

BF received a call from Old Dog's breeder/handler/shower, who was offering to him free of charge another beautiful retired showing female. She is 4 yrs old, and still intact. He was very enthusiastic about taking on the New Girl, because 1) Old Dog doesn't have much time left, and 2) It isn't every day that you get offered a beautiful retired show dog, so it's pretty special.

My background is primarily in rabbit rearing. I've been working with them on and off my whole life, and I've raised my own for nearly 17 years now. I have a nearly veterinary-level knowledge of rabbit medicine and health, and I'm protective of my rabbits like a mama bear. I've had family dogs before I had rabbits, done house-sitting jobs with dogs, and overall I love dogs, and all animals. I had one bad incident where I was badly bitten by a dog about 12 years ago. The bite was to my face, and required plastic surgery to put me back together again. I am not afraid of all dogs, but I am nervous around aggressive ones. Old Dog has never given me a moment's worry about my or my bunnies' safety. It is New Girl that concerns me.

New Girl is sweet in disposition, but pretty hyper, as just as many dogs of that age are. She is intact, and currently in heat. (The contract that BF signed said he will get her spayed after 6 months.) She chases cats like crazy; we already had an incident with a cat on a walk this weekend. The breeder seemed iffy on whether or not New Girl would get along with a rabbit. However, BF really wanted New Girl, and in spite of expressing my concerns about my bunny's safety, he brought her home anyway. New Girl has been home since Friday afternoon.

New Girl has shown signs of what I would say is more than "curious interest" in my rabbit. She has nipped at him twice WHILE I have been holding him. I have caught her standing outside his hutch, pawing and whining. She zooms right in on him every time he makes the slightest sound. We have let my bunny out while she is on a leash, and she's pretty much consumed with interest in him. I am extremely uncomfortable about all this. Not to mention the poor rabbit has lost free run of the entire house and is now confined to his hutch.

BF repeatedly claims that New Girl has no "prey drive". Although her behaviour around the rabbit contradicts this, he sticks to his claim that she has no prey drive. He does admit that she is "curious" about the rabbit, and he also admits that he would not trust New Girl alone with the bunny. In spite of this, he still maintains that, with training, she will not do anything to him. He thinks that she can be trained to not go after him. I am having a hard time believing that a show dog (who should already be trained, right??) won't go after him. (I have a friend who rescues all kinds of animals, including rabbits and dogs, and has told me in no uncertain terms that intense training will help with management, but she wouldn't trust the dog unsupervised around his hutch unless it's very sturdy.)

It's crappy enough that a happy, free-roaming house rabbit is now confined to his hutch nearly the entire day now. The hutch is helpful, but rabbits are the age-old "prey species", and they can go to extreme lengths when escaping a predator, including breaking their own backs in attempts to flee. I want to be absolutely clear that I am unwilling to put my rabbit's life at risk to "see what happens". One kick can result in a broken back, and it's all over. One bite from the dog, and it's all over.

My head and my gut tell me that this is not something that can be easily resolved with training and hormonal changes. Additionally, I have spent enough time grieving for lost pets this year, and I do not want to add another rabbit to that list. Any notion of rescuing another rabbit in the near future has been completely crushed.

Worst of all, I am tired of the BF minimizing the issue. I have expressed my concerns to him, and he doesn't seem to care. I've told him that I feel he is not listening to me, and does not respect me (or the rabbit), having just pushed ahead and done whatever he wanted without proper introspection and discussion. He knows what my rabbit means to me. I feel so completely unimportant that I am thinking of just packing up and leaving.

Training New Girl
Playing the "wait & see" game (until she's spayed, trained, etc., which will take god knows how long)
Moving out

NOT Optional:
Re-homing the rabbit
Keeping him cooped up in a hutch for the rest of his life
Re-homing the dog

1.) Is it possible to train that hunting instinct out of a dog?
2.) Can this resolve itself with training, spaying, etc.?
3.) Do you have any constructive suggestions for how we can all co-exist until something gives way?)
4.) What are some ground rules I can lay down for BF with regard to the dog?
5.) Should I just move out and take the bunny with me?

By all means, if I am overreacting, please let me know. I understand that my grief has probably made me a bit irrational. Thank you in advance for your responses.
posted by Mistress of the Bunnies to Pets & Animals (94 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
1) I've known of perfectly well-behaved dogs who eat yard chickens after years of peaceful interaction without any warning. I think that your concerns are not unfounded.
posted by aniola at 1:10 PM on October 26, 2016 [29 favorites]

Dalmatians were ratters. They were bred to kill vermin (among other things). The dog can never be trusted alone with the rabbit.
posted by ReluctantViking at 1:12 PM on October 26, 2016 [82 favorites]

I don't think you're overreacting; bringing a pet into a home without enthusiastic consent of the people living there is pretty inconsiderate for all concerned, including the animal.

Are there other things about the boyfriend that are not so great? I'm having a hard time seeing him going from Mr Wonderful to "here's a big dog, deal with it," and he's minimizing it... If this is a frequent modus operandi for him, I'd lean towards #5, as disrespecting you, your pet, and where you live is a package of crap that's unlikely to improve. Though if this is totally out of character for him, I'm not sure what to think.

(Did the breeder know about the rabbit?)
posted by kmennie at 1:14 PM on October 26, 2016 [29 favorites]

The SPCA won't adopt animals out to anyone unless everyone in the household has met the animal and is ok with the adoption. Breeders aren't bound by these rules. The responsible ones will ask to meet the family...

They're sensible rules.

I think your boyfriend has already chosen the dog over you, whether he wants to admit it to himself or not. I'd act accordingly.
posted by danny the boy at 1:14 PM on October 26, 2016 [63 favorites]

Best answer: This is an awful situation. Does your boyfriend know that option 5 is on the table? Honestly, no matter what your answer to that, I would just take option 5 unless he will rehome the dog, which sounds very unlikely. You were a family, and one member of the family shouldn't make unilateral decisions that put the other members of the family at risk, which is exactly what your boyfriend has done. I'm sorry.
posted by sockermom at 1:15 PM on October 26, 2016 [68 favorites]

We have two pugs - one of which had never shown any prey drive at all. We let him out with our rabbit, and he lunged for him. Utterly fascinated by him. That was the end of any thoughts of them co-existing.

The bunny now has his own room, where I let him out to roam around, and there is a bunny gate at the door, which keeps the dogs out. it would not keep Mr. Munch in, except that he doesn't want to jump over it.

I have seen some set ups where an xpen is put around a hutch to allow for more run around room.

I would not trust this dog with your rabbit's life - I would rather be safe than come home to a situation where one of my pets had killed or harmed the other.

Is is possible to section off the house? Put up a screen door or something to the bunny room, and give your bunny his own space that the dog cannot get into?

I'm sorry you're dealing with this.
posted by needlegrrl at 1:15 PM on October 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

You are not overreacting. This isn't how he should treat any of your concerns, and your concerns, by the way, are of course reasonable (and even if they were over protective he still should not act unilaterally on something like this.)
After 4.5 years I wouldn't just move out in haste, personally, but I would tell him the end is a serious possibility if he doesn't slow down and listen and understand your POV and probably get rid of the dog if no other solution seems comfortable to you. And then be prepared to act on it, because if he doesn't listen it will tell you much more than about the dog and the rabbit.
By the way, we had a husky that actually killed a neighbor's rabbit through the screen of an outdoor hutch -- the rabbit was frozen in place and that was that.
posted by flourpot at 1:15 PM on October 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I mean, the bottom line is that you're scared, and you're telling him that you're scared and exactly how he can help, and he's telling you that you're wrong.

Worst of all, I am tired of the BF minimizing the issue. I have expressed my concerns to him, and he doesn't seem to care. I've told him that I feel he is not listening to me, and does not respect me (or the rabbit), having just pushed ahead and done whatever he wanted without proper introspection and discussion.

He doesn't care, and he might say he respects you, but he respects his ability to do what he wants more. I'd be thinking of packing up and leaving, too.
posted by stellaluna at 1:18 PM on October 26, 2016 [50 favorites]

My basic rule for pet cohabitation is "last in, first out" if it doesn't work out.

From this bumpy start, you're never not going to be on edge about the new dog living with the bunny -- dalmatian's gonna dalmatian -- and more importantly, you now feel like you have been locked in an emotional hutch to share a house with two co-residents capable of making snap decisions that cause anguish, decisions that you have no control over.

in spite of expressing my concerns about my bunny's safety, he brought her home anyway.

Option 5.
posted by holgate at 1:19 PM on October 26, 2016 [29 favorites]

You're not overreacting.

Training isn't really an option when one slip and your bunny is probably no more. Slips are going happen when you're training a dog and I say this as someone with two rescue pups one of whom was super difficult when I got him.

You're really left with no dog or no bunny in the house. If BF is choosing the dog over you then that speaks worlds of your relationship.
posted by bitdamaged at 1:20 PM on October 26, 2016 [9 favorites]

Sometime in the past couple of months, someone posted a sad (and harrowing) comment about a dog turning on and killing a cat it had been living with peacefully for some time—in front of the owner, no less. i wouldn't wish that scene on a mortal enemy.
posted by she's not there at 1:20 PM on October 26, 2016

Best answer: Your boyfriend sounds weird. I don't understand why he thought getting a four year old retired show dog was worth upending his entire household. I'd also agree with other comments that any breeder who'd just let someone take the dog home without meeting all the people/animals in the house isn't as prestigious as your boyfriend seems to think.

I don't see any way around you moving out with your bunny, this guy doesn't respect you or your pet.
posted by cakelite at 1:23 PM on October 26, 2016 [38 favorites]

Option 5.
posted by she's not there at 1:25 PM on October 26, 2016 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I would never, ever trust a dog with a rabbit. It's like trusting a cat with a grasshopper: the dog has total superiority in terms of who will win a fight, and the dog is packed with tens of thousands of years of instinct that dictate a fight will happen.

I would also be unable to trust a romantic partner who ignored these factors and also overrode my concerns like this. If it were me, I'd be in camp Option 5.
posted by SMPA at 1:27 PM on October 26, 2016 [23 favorites]

Best answer: Your...boyfriend of 4.5 years...brought home a dog without your consent?

Straight talk: He wants out of the relationship but doesn't want to be the one to pull the trigger.

Doesn't matter whose fault this is or how you got there. Move out. I would much rather hang out with your rabbit at a party than with this guy.
posted by radicalawyer at 1:28 PM on October 26, 2016 [63 favorites]

This is going to end poorly, and you know it. You can't train a dog out of predatory behavior. You also know:

Your boyfriend will do what he wants to do, fuck your feelings about it.
He thinks insisting a thing isn't true makes it not true, if it means he gets his way.
What it'll be like to parent/divorce-co-parent with him, if you were wanting children.

(Slightly more controversial side issue: showing dogs and breeding dogs - especially genetically ruined dogs that serve no purpose, and no riding in a fire truck isn't a purpose - is wrong, and this dog should be given no special considerations for being a "show dog". It does not increase your boyfriend's nobility in any way, nor does owning an unspayed dog.)
posted by Lyn Never at 1:28 PM on October 26, 2016 [41 favorites]

Just chiming in to agree w/Lyn Never above. My grandpa adopted a retired "show dog." It is the most neurotic, anxious dog I've ever seen and has severe physical health problems as well.
posted by mingodingo at 1:30 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Where is option 6, BF moves out? I like that option.
posted by nat at 1:30 PM on October 26, 2016 [143 favorites]

My ex brought in a rescue German Shepard. He immediately went after one of my cats, while I was holding her on the other side of a baby gate. We thought it was a situation that we could resolve, we had to be hyper vigilant at all time to keep them apart. Years (literally) later, he caught her while we were asleep and very nearly killed her. I spent days feeding her an ounce of food every hour or so, 24 hours a day, after $5,000 in emergency care.

This situation is unlikely to resolve in a way that feels good to you.
posted by stormygrey at 1:31 PM on October 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

Bringing home a dog without your consent isn't the problem, it's probably a symptom of the problem.
Seems like the BF wants to do what HE wants to do, and gives some lip service to your wants, needs and preferences when it comes to things.
I'm going to order a combo deal. I'd like one order of BF moves out, and a side order of BF takes the dog with him.
Whether or not your relationship continues beyond that point is up to you.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 1:34 PM on October 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

This is very close to DTMFA territory for me. IMHO, when you move in with someone who has pets, you are basically adopting their pets. And IMHO, when you adopt a pet, you are promising to do everything in your power to keep a safe and healthy home for that pet.

Bringing a predator species into a home with a prey species is fraught at the best of times. When the particular predator dog has shown actual predation behavior towards the particular prey rabbit, you're basically making the decision that the rabbit is gonna die soon.

The only reason that I'm not completely at DTMFA here is that your rabbit is 9. The internet tells me that that breed has a 10-12 year life span. Your BF may not be expressing this out loud to you, but there's a good chance that he's doing the calculus that your floof is going to be out of the picture soon, and so it's not worth giving up New Dog given how good the timing is in his own dog-owning life. Maybe, because you've lost two rabbits already this year and haven't replaced them, BF thinks that it will be a non-rabbit household soon. This is not a horrible way to make these decisions, but since you are sharing a home it is unacceptable for him not to be talking this through with you.

The best case scenario here is that he's not taking your concerns seriously because a geriatric bunny isn't that important to him. And even that's a serious red flag (but, depending on other factors, maybe not a burn down a 4.5 year relationship red flag).

So, figure out a way to give the rabbit a safe space for now (can he have the run of the bedroom? can the dog be locked downstairs at all times?), talk to BF about WTF is going on in his fool head, and if you don't get a really good answer, leave and take the rabbit with you.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:36 PM on October 26, 2016 [14 favorites]

This dog will eat your rabbit.
I'm very very certain of it.

Maybe, maaaaybe if you trained the dog to police dog level training it might not eat the rabbit. But the dog will still want to eat the rabbit.

Do you have the skills/time/money for that much dog training?
posted by littlewater at 1:38 PM on October 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

Best answer: The fact that this is nearing ultimatum status for you should be brought to the table for him, quickly, and very much in those terms. He deserves to know that this is that important to you... even if he only understands the part where you're willing to move out. His reaction will tell you as much where he believes the importance of the relationship lies in context with everything else.

Along with everyone else in this thread, I validate and agree with your reactions. He does not hold the same level of importance for the rabbit as you do, and that is ultimately threatening the rabbit's overall safety, and your well-being. You've told him as much, and he has not gotten the point. This is of serious consequence. To put it in relational perspectives, your value-systems are not aligning one bit over this and it's caused a serious rift. Also, I don't think training will ever set your mind totally at-ease.
posted by a good beginning at 1:38 PM on October 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

BF repeatedly claims that New Girl has no "prey drive".

Booooool sheet. Like, breathtaking bull shit. A working breed like this not having prey drive is a rare, rare thing. It does happen, as you know because Old Dog is either too old to care or never had much prey drive to begin with. But him trying to claim New Girl has no prey drive after multiple demonstrations of prey drive? That's gaslighting by canine proxy and a dick move.

He sounds like the type of dog owner that I and every other serious rehabilitator of special needs dogs hates: Oh, my precious pooch would never behave like a dog! My dog shits rainbows and volunteers at the soup kitchen on Sundays! Please ignore the fact that my dog is currently trying to eat your dog's face off, he's just trying to say hi!

Nope. No.

I think your BF's choices are:

A. Admit he was wrong, this was not a good idea, return dog to breeder (ffs this is a retired show dog coming from a breeder it's not like she's going to be put down tomorrow if she doesn't find a forever home right this second)
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:39 PM on October 26, 2016 [48 favorites]

Honestly if you did not have a rabbit or any other pets and your boyfriend up and brought a dog home without obtaining your full and enthusiastic consent I'd be kinda like, yeah, this is grounds to move the hell out
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:39 PM on October 26, 2016 [38 favorites]

Best answer: Straight talk: He wants out of the relationship but doesn't want to be the one to pull the trigger.

At very least, he wants (consciously or not) to redefine your living arrangements so it's a dog household from now on, not a rabbit household. Given the extent to which rabbits are part of your life, and how you've had to cope with bereavement this year, I think you should treat that as a deal-breaker. Saying that there's no "prey drive" is in gaslighting territory; he's exerting control over you through lack of control.
posted by holgate at 1:40 PM on October 26, 2016 [38 favorites]

My neighbour's dalmatian straight up ate the family chihuahua after years of peaceable cohabitation.
posted by wreckingball at 1:42 PM on October 26, 2016 [34 favorites]

Your post doesn't indicate how long you've both been renting together, what the lease says, or what you discussed before moving in together.

But I agree with what others have said. When two people are sharing a home, sharing expenses, and sharing a life, neither one of those people gets to make unilateral decisions about what goes on in the home.

Perhaps you guys didn't discuss how you would resolve issue that come up in sharing a household before moving in together. And now an issue has come up and there aren't pre-established, during a non-emotional period, protocols about how to resolve it. Lesson learned.

That said, your boyfriend is wrong about many things:
- Wrong about canine behavior and instincts.
- Wrong about how to treat a loved one.
- Wrong about how to resolve conflict.

I don't know how easy it is for you boyfriend to admit to mistakes or if he has a hard time owning up to a bad decision and reversing himself. If he's a genuinely decent and mature person he can do this, but you might need to soften the ground for him by letting him know that you understand that he didn't intentionally mean to disregard you and that you both share some responsibility for not setting some ground rules before moving in together.

But if he can't own up to his mistake, then I definitely like Option 6 (suggested by nat), boyfriend and dog move out. He's the one who made the mistake, he should have to take the consequences.
posted by brookeb at 1:45 PM on October 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

There's definitely specific training that one can do with the dog to make it better around rabbits (or at least, that specific rabbit). Our current dog expressed beyond just curiosity with our four cats. It took about 3 months with him (the dog) crated anytime that we couldn't supervice his interactions (well, he kind of goes crazy in crates, so his "crate" was our kitchen/dining room). By supervise, I mean that he was on leash in the house, and the other end of the leash was in my, or ms. beagle's hand. He'd get immediate correction if he tried to lunge/bark at the cats. He'd get praise and treats for just being mellow when the cats would be around him.

3 months of always being connected to a dog in the house is a long effing time. He still (2 years later) will try to nip (he's a herding dog) when the cats bolt by him, and he'll bark if he thinks they're sneaking up on him while he's dozing.

Given your options, and not options, I think first see if BF is willing to actually put in the work to train NewDog (and training a dog to be a show dog wouldn't involve anything about being nice to cats/prey animals). If he minimizes, and thinks that her just being around the bunny will eventually fix things, then your option is moving out.

Answering your questions:

1) to an extent, one can train the dog to resist the instincts. Some dogs will take to this training better than others. Some trainers are better than others. Our beagle (super high prey drive) liked our cats (when she was alive, she'd bay her head off if she thought boy dog was behaving inappropriately to the cats), and a number of times was found in our back yard sitting next to a wild rabbit).

2) spaying might help some; don't bet on that. Bet on training, or don't bet. Training is certianly not a sure thing.

3) Dog is 100% on leash with a human holder the other end and concentrating on the dog/rabbit behavior, or dog is crated.

4) see the answer to question 3) . Also, boyfriend needs to see an animal behaviorist / trainer to get some 1 on 1 advice on how to handle the traning.

5) that's really kind of hard to advice to give to a random stranger, but given that your boyfriend is super minimizing of your opinions, and given that you want your rabbit to be safe, I certainly can't say don't consider this option. That's a super conservative answer.
posted by nobeagle at 1:51 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yep, I'm in for option 6 if you can swing it. This is a huge red flag and I bet if you sit down and think about it, you'll be able to come up with quite a long list of other times your BF has refused to listen to you and refused to try to understand you. I think one day you'll be thankful that he did something so over the top like this before you had kids or got married to him because it's just ten times worse when you're trapped by those things and he still acts so selfishly.
posted by dawkins_7 at 1:52 PM on October 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

Your boyfriend needs to get rid of the dog; I don't understand why this option is off the table. The dog needs to go.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:03 PM on October 26, 2016 [24 favorites]

Best answer: Maybe, because you've lost two rabbits already this year and haven't replaced them, BF thinks that it will be a non-rabbit household soon.

Going back to the OP:
Any notion of rescuing another rabbit in the near future has been completely crushed.
The word "crushed" carries a lot of weight with it. Project that out from "the near future" to "perhaps a decade" and see where it takes you. Even given a training regime (which applies to your BF as much as the dog) your old, mellow rabbit inevitably becomes the test of how well New Dog progresses. "Can you come out of the hutch now?" [barking and nipping] "Sorry, back in." That's a sad (and frankly cruel) way for him to see out his days.

If you do choose to move out or are in a position to have your BF leave, get the rabbit somewhere safe first, just for your own peace of mind.
posted by holgate at 2:09 PM on October 26, 2016 [17 favorites]

For 18 years I had a cat that hated all other cats with a fiery passion. She didn't much like dogs or any humans who weren't me or whichever boyfriend I had at the time either. And you know, I love animals! I love kittens! For 18 years, I didn't have too many people at a time over, or give in to my desire to adopt or foster more cats and kittens, because I had brought home Cat X and made a commitment to giving her as good a life as I could. I did switch boyfriends a few times, and she had to get used to that, but otherwise, I put her desire to be The Solitary One over my desire to cuddle and adopt more fuzzy babies.

And I guess I'm judging your boyfriend by that criteria. He hasn't respected the safety of your bunny, or your reservations about bringing in a young dog, and now he's trying to bullshit you about the dog's prey drive. I would be very, very upset in these circumstances and reconsidering living with someone who was that disrespectful and incapable of postponing his gratification for the good of all of the household.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:11 PM on October 26, 2016 [22 favorites]

You can never 100% trust a dog with a prey animal they all have prey drive you cannot train it away you can train how the animal responds to that drive a little but you will never remove the drive. The second humans aren't around the dog will listen to it's instincts not it's training. Have you ever tried to train a dog not to sleep on a couch, what do they do the second you leave the house sleep on the couch. I have a terrier with a high prey drive, I have spent years working on this issue with him. All your rabbit would have to do is move quickly, one sudden hop could trigger the chase instinct & he could be killed before any of you could do anything. While a prey reactive dog is in the house you shouldn't be owning a pet rabbit.

Your boyfriend dismissing you & your concerns is not a good sign as they are more than valid.
posted by wwax at 2:12 PM on October 26, 2016

You know, he has a right to have a pet that he wants. But he doesn't get to ignore all the other members of the household to do so. This isn't the right dog, no matter that this opportunity has presented itself. This dog is the wrong dog. Let's say you always keep the dog in one part of the house, and the rabbit in the other. All it takes is one tiny slip, one gate left open, one door left slightly ajar, and you'll have a horrible tragedy.

This is the wrong dog. If he can't see that and return the dog, then option #6 sounds right to me. There are many reasons to break up. This is definitely DTMA for me.
posted by clone boulevard at 2:13 PM on October 26, 2016 [9 favorites]

While youre resolving this, and while the dog is in the house, can you try to find somewhere else for the rabbit to be? One slip, and two snaps, and that rabbit is gone.
I've a friend who came home to find half a rabbit in what she thought was a very secure run. The young dog she'd just adopted had dug up the very sturdy stakes holding the wire in place. It was on a leash as well. Sorry for the graphic image. My friend was really traumatised. She couldn't keep the dog after that.
posted by glasseyes at 2:14 PM on October 26, 2016

You've just got to flip the scenario to see how crazy this is— if instead you only had dogs in the house, and one day, without any real consultation, your boyfriend brought home rabbits for the house, you'd want him to go get his head examined and you'd get the rabbits out of there.

If you're soon to be both working and leaving the dog and rabbit at home alone, even in separate rooms— it wouldn't be surprising for that lovely dog to get a bit bored and literally scare the life out of the rabbit.

To paraphrase a quote— the rabbit has to get lucky everytime, the dog only has to get lucky once.
posted by Static Vagabond at 2:15 PM on October 26, 2016 [9 favorites]

Had a rabbit, got a Cockapoo as a puppy. Got another rabbit. Cockapoo was never much of a hunter and having come into the household as a puppy with an adult rabbit in residence, she never really paid much attention to the rabbits.

However, we did segregate them to the extent that the dog never had access to the rabbit area unless we were present.

That said, a Dalmatian presents an entirely different matter. I doubt that you will ever train that dog to not be aggressive toward the rabbit, and your rabbit may be desensitized to the presence of a dog. I don't see a way for them to safely coexist.
posted by mygoditsbob at 2:23 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Rabbit should get the run of the house and the dog should be crated 24 hours a day.

I am joking but it was the rabbit's home first.
posted by futz at 2:24 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I actually know dalmatians really well.

Everyone telling you that the dalmatian will definitely kill your bunny is 1000% correct and your boyfriend is one million times wrong.

Your boyfriend seems not to know dalmatians very well? That, or like everyone says he straight up isn't being respectful, or even reasonable and rational. Like, maybe he's really so blown away by New Girl he can't see reality + he's entirely ignorant of how dalmatians are temperament-wise? This seems the best case scenario here.

Short term move out temporarily and seek counseling? Maybe get other dalmatian owners to contact him or give him a primer on their behavior?

This makes no sense and I'm so sorry. Its so crappy when you are making sense and the other person isn't listening. I hope your BF starts listening quickly.
posted by jbenben at 2:24 PM on October 26, 2016 [24 favorites]

No. There is no way in hell that a young Dalmatian (who the breeder didn't even think could be trusted around rabbits) and a beloved pet rabbit are going to be able to share a smallish* space. Any reasonable person who cares about animals and knows anything about dogs, rabbits, etc. would know that this just isn't workable. Dalmatians are large, active dogs that have a tendency to be rambunctious. I don't know if they're hunting dogs per se, but they're certainly not lap dogs.

It doesn't matter if the dog was free, or if this is a "once in a lifetime" kind of chance for him as a purebred dog enthusiast.

This is a decision that should have involved both of you, and if it had involved both of you, the answer would have been no, because I get the sense that you're a reasonable person who cares about animals and knows at least about rabbits, if not about dogs.

The dog has to go back to the breeder. Let someone else get a once in a lifetime chance for a free purebred dog.

Frankly this is DTMFA territory for me. Your boyfriend is acting like a spoilt child.

*I'm assuming you guys don't live on an estate where the dog can live in one outbuilding, and the rabbit can live in a different outbuilding on a different part of the property, or something like that.
posted by Sara C. at 2:33 PM on October 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

Dog goes back to breeder. There'll be no "wait and see", "let's get her spayed and see", "let's see how training goes", etc. His whims don't get to threaten the life of an inhabitant of your joint home.
posted by destructive cactus at 2:36 PM on October 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

I live in a multi-cat household and one of ours has gotten very aggressive after a move that she never adjusted to. She would happily kill one of our other cats, and we have had to segregate her. Although all the humans are on the same page, once in a rare while a door is not completely closed, and this has ended up in the vet ER twice. It takes one slip, one moment of distraction in a household where we are all very motivated that none of our animals ever gets hurt. And the aggressive girl is sad and lonely. We are doing the best we can, and it is still stressful for everyone. I cannot imagine how it would be if my husband and I disagreed on this point.

Your posting name here tells me how much you are invested in your rabbits. This situation is deal-breaker territory for me.
posted by thebrokedown at 2:39 PM on October 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

Man, I am a crazy dog lady and even I think this is utter bullshit. The dog can't help her prey drive. Your rabbit deserves to continue having the run of the house as he's accustomed to. NOBODY in a multi-human household should ever bring home a living creature without the full, enthusiastic consent of everyone in that household.

This is separation territory to me. Your responsibility is to keep your bunny safe and happy.
posted by DingoMutt at 2:48 PM on October 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

I have to think that the breeder telling him not to fix a 4 year old dog for 6 months says that they think this might not end well either, and doesn't want the dog modified if they're going to have to rehome her again.
posted by rhizome at 2:49 PM on October 26, 2016 [22 favorites]

> I think your boyfriend has already chosen the dog over you, whether he wants to admit it to himself or not. I'd act accordingly.

What he said. This is not a livable situation. It seems your boyfriend isn't going to do anything to make it one for you and your rabbit, so the ball's in your court. Act accordingly.
posted by languagehat at 2:57 PM on October 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, something tells me that BF is going to be like, "let's just see how the training goes and not rush to any conclusions!"

No. Your rabbit will be fucking terrified every second that the dog is in the house. This isn't a "wait and see" situation. That dog, or you, need to leave now.
posted by delight at 2:59 PM on October 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses. It turns out I'm not crazy/irrational after all. (I didn't really think I was, but living with someone who is behaving like BF is can make you wonder at times...)

Whenever I tried to discuss the matter with BF before he brought New Girl home, it did not go well. I expressed my concerns and delineated possible outcomes, and he threw a tantrum saying, "FINE! I won't get the dog! I'll never have another dog again for the rest of my life!!" And when I countered with, "I want you to have dogs, just let's think about getting the *right* one", there was a mix of, "Oh No, I can see how you REALLY feel" or "Oh, ok" (followed by lip service about how he doesn't want the bunny to be attacked, etc.). It's safe to say that I feel like I was pushed into doing this.

Many of you have remarked about how childish he is. I can only imagine how nasty he could be if I put my foot down. I would forever be the evil bitch that wouldn't even let him have a sweet doggie. (I mean, what a horrible person I am!) And I don't want to be labeled that way. It is very emotionally manipulative.

This is his 3rd Dalmatian. Old Dog is the 2nd; his 1st was another batty hyper one. He tells me that she would hunt cats outside, but never the indoor cats. He thinks it's going to be that way with this one. She has a crate/kennel; I guess he thinks it's ok to keep a dog in a kennel all day while we're at work. Frankly, I think it's crappy, but then my perspective doesn't matter much to him.

My upcoming job is an exceptionally good one, in my field, after a long absence. It's part-time, so it will be difficult to find accommodations on my own. I couldn't afford to stay in the place we're in on a restricted salary. I'm fully aware that I'll probably have to pick up a 2nd job to make that happen.

Thank you everyone for the validation and support. You're amazingly helpful and have restored my sanity...
posted by Mistress of the Bunnies at 3:15 PM on October 26, 2016 [33 favorites]

My dog has a high prey drive and while she will ignore domestic cats and rabbits very well when told I 100% do not trust her around them. She will absolutely kill wild rabbits and squirrels if she can get them. There's no way I'd be in a living situation like this, because of the possible consequences.

I'm curious what does he think will happen if his dog kills your rabbit? You'll just shrug and continue to be his now happily rabbit-free girlfriend? If he keeps this dog and you stay together you'll give up rabbit keeping? I don't get it.
posted by fshgrl at 3:30 PM on October 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

You deserve to be with someone who doesn't have petulant tantrums that make you question your sanity. Please move out, staying with friends or family if you must.
posted by delight at 3:32 PM on October 26, 2016 [38 favorites]

I would forever be the evil bitch that wouldn't even let him have a sweet doggie.

You should not accept this kind of behavior from other people who you consider friends. Please break up with this guy, if only so that I can sleep easier at night knowing one woman got away from a toxic asshole who treated her like shit.
posted by Sara C. at 3:52 PM on October 26, 2016 [42 favorites]

I've had a similar problem in the past with a roommate bringing a cat into our house that already had my rabbit without asking, and I'll add to all the right stuff people have said up top that it's very, very stressful for a rabbit to live around another animal that is behaving like a predator. It's not just the actual attacks, the low-lying stress of the rabbit constantly being on guard really takes a toll. The dog simply cannot stay, and any attempt to wait and see is just torture for the rabbit in the meantime.

Some dogs can do alright with rabbits, especially older ones and ones who are introduced to rabbits under supervision as puppies. I'm told that bringing home a new, young rabbit to a dog that is already established works dramatically better than bringing a dog into a house with an established rabbit. I'm also told that herding dogs are much more likely to either bond with or generally ignore rabbits than hunting dogs.

Christ, what an asshole though. Dalmatians are the product of humans taking a natural predator of rabbits, then spending centuries perfecting the breed to be extraordinarily good at that. It's like bringing a dachshund to meet a rabbit. Like he was hoping the rabbit gets devoured right away.
posted by neonrev at 3:52 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Worst of all, I am tired of the BF minimizing the issue. I have expressed my concerns to him, and he doesn't seem to care. I've told him that I feel he is not listening to me, and does not respect me (or the rabbit), having just pushed ahead and done whatever he wanted without proper introspection and discussion. He knows what my rabbit means to me. I feel so completely unimportant that I am thinking of just packing up and leaving.

This is the most important part of your question. You could be writing about anything, and everyone's advice would be the same. Your boyfriend is completely self-centered, has extremely poor judgement, has total lack of concern for your boundaries and emotions. You deserve a better partner!

My suggestion is to convince him to get rid of the dog ASAP, and then work on a plan to move out. Figure out how to supplement your income, talk to some friends/family to see who can put you up for a while, and then pack your shit up. It'll be rough for a little while, but better than living with this jerk.
posted by radioamy at 3:53 PM on October 26, 2016 [11 favorites]

I must say upon reading your update, I don't think your question actually has anything to do with a dog or a rabbit.

You've given us this scenario filled with details that emphasize your thoughtfulness, knowledge and care and show how your boyfriend is thoughtless, nasty and childish.

The dog situation is bringing things to a head but it sure seems like you don't like your boyfriend, which is completely fine and reasonable.

I think you should break up with him and move yourself and your bunny.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:54 PM on October 26, 2016 [24 favorites]

Gaslighting sucks, and that's basically what's happening here. I'm sorry, this is a crappy situation. Is there anywhere at all your bunny could visit for a while until the dog situation is resolved or you move out?
posted by Lyn Never at 4:03 PM on October 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

From your profile, if your state is correct, we may be near one another. If you need help finding a temporary safe place for your rabbit, I can see what I can do to help you -- memail me if you like.
posted by freezer cake at 4:09 PM on October 26, 2016 [19 favorites]

This isn't fair to you, isn't fair to your rabbit and also isn't fair to the new dog, who is not at all to blame for wanting to go after a rabbit.

Find a better home for the new dog, and get a different dog for the boyfriend (older, different breed).

Additionally, if it's at the point where you're considering staying with someone because you can't afford to move, that's a pretty good indicator that this relationship is close to over.

Best of luck to yoU!
posted by mulcahy at 4:23 PM on October 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

Your decision appears to be made, and I may be inviting some kind of pile-on here, but I'm going to express a contrarian view: Any dog, dalmation or not, can be trained to accept any other domestic pet, whether cat, rabbit or whatever. The lion will lay down with the lamb, under the right training. For example. And this one. There's more I'm sure, just search. As a complete novice animal trainer years ago I was able to introduce a new kitten to an adult dog who, at first, wanted to eat it alive. Eventually he even ended up accepting the kitten suckling on him. (Hint: mixing together each others scents is part of the key.)

That said, there are a lot of other issues at work here, for which reasons I support the general consensus here.
posted by beagle at 4:52 PM on October 26, 2016

Congratulations on your new job! And downsizing to a new place! With less work hours you will have more time. Maybe to rescue some bunnies. Or date. Yes, date!

(This is coming from a person who did bring home an sort-of unannounced dog. My partner and I worked it out. He didn't gaslight me, and I didn't put a living being in danger, would have rehomed, etc.)
posted by Vaike at 4:53 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

It really sounds to me like your boyfriend does not think of rabbits as real pets. And he doesn't care that you do, and that you love this rabbit - in fact I would wager that he thinks your love for this rabbit is dumb and pointless because it's just a stupid rabbit, not a real pet like a dog. And why should he get rid of his real pet for your lame old rodent?

He's being a total dick about this, is what I'm saying.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:18 PM on October 26, 2016 [18 favorites]

Nthing keep your rabbit and your heart and sanity safe, and leave this dude.

he threw a tantrum saying, "FINE! I won't get the dog! I'll never have another dog again for the rest of my life!!"

This is the sound of my eyes rolling. I grew up with dogs. I was babysat by dogs: my parents had two Cocker Spaniels when I was born. The family were always telling me stories about how those dogs were constantly by my side as a baby. One died before I turned two; the second was my best friend and saved my life when I went on walkabout just before I turned three. (He led me back to people; I was deep in a forest.) We got a third Cocker Spaniel after he passed, then a Golden Retriever. Cousins had black labs and a couple of retired racing greyhounds. My grandmother had chihuahuas. I frickin' love dogs. I've wanted a dog for twenty years now, as an adult.

But I always end up rescuing cats, and because I love my furballs and don't want to keep a dog crated the 8 hours a day I'm at work, I don't get a dog. Your boyfriend is behaving like a jerk, and doubly so in shirking responsibility for his decision, onto you. This is not someone you want to be in a relationship with.

Also nthing that a four-year-old dog with a prey drive towards an animal will not be trained out of its prey drive.

I also had a couple of rabbits as a kid, and like your boyfriend, my family didn't care about the rabbits (they weren't nice people). I'm still heartbroken about how the rabbits were treated. Speaking from lived experience: you won't forget this. You will be glad you cared about your rabbit. Bunnies are smart little hoppers who stress easily; even the most intrepid cock-eared thumper. This situation is absolutely not a happy end of life.
posted by fraula at 5:24 PM on October 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

If you absolutely can't afford to move, then your bunny is going to have to live somewhere else temporarily, like yesterday. In terms of expedience, you need to get the bunny out of the house and away from a potential accident (or "accident"). Reasonably speaking, the dog NEEDS TO GO, but if boyfriend is refusing and being an ass, then he won't do it. But I nth everyone else that a guy who acts like this is gonna be a jerk in other areas, this is a bad sign, and it's time to leave even if all the animals die tomorrow.

I really don't want you to lose another bunny (says a former bunny owner) and clearly your boyfriend is cool and froody with that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:43 PM on October 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

My dog who's the bestest, sweetest, cuddliest dog in the whole-wide-world (doesn't everyone say that?), and whose never shown an ounce of aggression towards a person or another animal, has so far caught two rabbits and a squirrel from the backyard. He didn't shake them or rip them apart, he just catches them - he thinks it's a game (look ma! Look what I caught!). A dog doesn't need to show aggressive tendencies to accidentally kill something - just the shock alone can kill a little animal.

Find a temporary home for your bun, and then have a serious talk with your boyfriend. It sounds like he will gaslight/act like a baby, so I would seriously consider going to a counselor either together, or at least by yourself.
posted by littlesq at 5:59 PM on October 26, 2016 [11 favorites]

YOU ARE NOT OVERREACTING. Your feelings are valid. Your concerns are valid.

I'm so sorry your boyfriend made such a dick move in spite of your completely
reasonable and valid objections
and your continued unease with the situation.

Do what you need to do to keep your rabbit safe, and yes, have a serious talk with your boyfriend, who has decided that his desire for another dog is more important than your rabbit's life.
posted by a strong female character at 6:05 PM on October 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

If you lived near me I would take good care of your bun until you got stuff sorted out - and I bet that you have friends nearby that will be happy to help. When my boyfriend and I moved in together he had 2 cats and I had 2 birds, and there was no question that we would have to find an arrangement that was safe and happy for all the pets. With living things under your care they have to have the highest priority, and I would be so reluctant to share my life with anyone that didn't understand that. I'm sorry that you are dealing with this, it must be so hard.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:17 PM on October 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

Your decision appears to be made, and I may be inviting some kind of pile-on here, but I'm going to express a contrarian view: Any dog, dalmation or not, can be trained to accept any other domestic pet, whether cat, rabbit or whatever. The lion will lay down with the lamb, under the right training. For example yt . And this one yt . There's more I'm sure, just search. As a complete novice animal trainer years ago I was able to introduce a new kitten to an adult dog who, at first, wanted to eat it alive. Eventually he even ended up accepting the kitten suckling on him. (Hint: mixing together each others scents is part of the key.)

While really not intending to start a pile-on, this is very not true. Three main things.
It's not so much that there are breeds of dogs which are totally untrainable in certain ways, it's that breeds of dogs only exist because people bred them with purposes in mind. There are absolutely dalmatians that can be trained to or naturally will live alongside a rabbit or other rodent. It's very unrealistic to expect human intervention to always supersede centuries upon millennia of humans breeding dogs for a specific purpose. Dalmatians were stable dogs. They were bred to be chill with horses, and to fuck up rodents that come into stables. They used to be working dogs, and it's fairly recent for them to be housepets.
Most any dog could possibly be trained to live with any other animal, sure. But dogs are not predictable, and trying to train a dog to love a rabbit could very easily lead to the rabbit dying. The dog does not need to even touch the rabbit, they can break bones and backs in the effort to flee very easily. A dog trying to play could be as fatal as a full-on attack. They are fragile beings. They live in a world of terror. They are prey.
Secondly, that's a poor way to support your theory. Of course there are tons of heartwarming videos of unlikely animals friends, that's literally internet crack. The internet is way less interested in, and people are way less interested in posting videos of Fido ripping LT. Hops to bits.
Thirdly, I dunno, maybe that can work. I also know that my rabbit absolutely shudder with fear if I come home smelling like a cat I was petting, and it's been three years since my roommate's cat was terrorizing him. I dunno how happy a rabbit, an animal which cleans itself to remove any odors out of fear, would like having dog scent rubbed on it.
posted by neonrev at 7:02 PM on October 26, 2016 [13 favorites]

So your boyfriend has lived with rabbits for 4.5 years and still doesn't understand how fragile they are. I don't see any mention of his thinking about what this situation is like for the rabbit. That in itself shows a serious lack of empathy. I know pretty much nothing about rabbits, but a friend who used to work for a vet told me she has seen rabbits die from the stress of having their temperature taken. Living with an excitable dog sounds like it would be hell.

You also talked about being nervous about some dogs because of your own experience, but don't specify whether New Girl makes you nervous. Did your boyfriend take that into consideration? I think he's already shown enough disregard for you that you should dump him, but if he did not take your anxiety about dogs seriously either, that should be another point in the "leave boyfriend" column.

Please leave this man. He is phenomenally inconsiderate and childish. He made a major decision knowing that you were not OK with it. You have no reason to trust him anymore. You have no idea what other decisions he might make without considering your feelings. You are absolutely not overreacting.

It will be hard, and I'm sorry you have to go through this. But in the long run, it will be a lot harder to stay with someone like this.
posted by FencingGal at 7:32 PM on October 26, 2016 [11 favorites]

New Girl has shown signs of what I would say is more than "curious interest" in my rabbit. She has nipped at him twice WHILE I have been holding him. I have caught her standing outside his hutch, pawing and whining. She zooms right in on him every time he makes the slightest sound. We have let my bunny out while she is on a leash, and she's pretty much consumed with interest in him. I am extremely uncomfortable about all this. Not to mention the poor rabbit has lost free run of the entire house and is now confined to his hutch.

I have spent fifteen years volunteering in greyhound rescue and that is the classic picture of a dog that is never going to be small animal safe. Like if you asked me to describe a dog that should never be in a house with small animals your quote above would be what I'd write. The only thing missing from the worst possible candidate for a home with small animals is trembling and drooling while doing all the above.

That dog is going to kill that rabbit if they continue to live in the same space. And even if by some astonishing miracle it didn't the rabbit will spend its life in fear because even if your jerk of a boyfriend pretends he doesn't know his dog wants to slather mustard on your rabbit and have a snack that poor bun does. That is no life for your rabbit friend to live. It's no life for the dog, either, to be continually in such a high state of tension!

I beg you to ignore your boyfriend and get your rabbit somewhere safe. You can train some dogs to be more tolerant of small animals, even in hunting breeds, but there are some that just cannot ignore the fact they're designed to hunt. The stories that I've heard when people don't face that reality are very sad for everyone involved. Please don't be one of those stories.
posted by winna at 8:48 PM on October 26, 2016 [13 favorites]

Best answer: The safety even just your stuff is not something any decent human should be so cavalier with. The fact that he's willing to risk a literal life here? No. No. Even if he gets rid of the dog, he has proven that he himself is a creature who you and your rabbit(s) cannot be safe around, because you never know when there will be another dog. You didn't know there was going to be this dog. This is a person who is dangerously irresponsible about animal ownership and you cannot count on such a person to ever be able to be trusted with rabbits, with future children if you were to consider having any, with your own person right now. This time it's "we can totally train the dog to leave the rabbit alone", next time it's "well he only bit someone the once and he didn't mean it". Or let's be optimistic--in which case it's "well he's just getting over his puppy chewing stage" and it's your best pair of shoes on the day of an interview.

That's, like, best case scenario for someone who is this disinterested in accepting and dealing with their dog's problems. I do believe there's such a thing as dangerous dogs, but I don't think there's such a thing as bad dogs. There is very much such a thing as bad dog owners. And the problem with bad dog owners is that they don't stop having dogs or deal with their own issues until something majorly destructive happens, and often not even then.
posted by Sequence at 9:19 PM on October 26, 2016 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Oh my goodness, this question upset me so much (and gave me flashbacks to a clueless friend who would bring her dog over to lunge at my new kitten--"She just LOVES CATS"--yeah, as snacks, maybe--anyway). I cannot fathom that someone who ostensibly loved you, or even liked you, or didn't, say, hate you and the rabbit he's lived with for four years, would do something like this.

Like others, I am really worried about the rabbit's safety this very instant. It only takes one moment for this to end horribly. Can you get him somewhere safe ASAP? As in, out of your house, not separated by a screen or whatever (that is not safe). That needs to be your first priority before you do anything else.

This will not resolve itself with any amount of training. This will resolve itself when your bunny is dead. First, get the bunny to a safe place, then deal with the relationship--ie, you should break up with him. He is awful. I'm sorry.
posted by tiger tiger at 9:26 PM on October 26, 2016 [6 favorites]

P.S. I meant to add: In response to "tell me if I'm overreacting," god, no--you're underreacting, if anything. And you are far from irrational, but your boyfriend on the other hand might be.
posted by tiger tiger at 9:28 PM on October 26, 2016

I'm answer number 70 something on this thread and I have to say: nobody has asked for a picture of the rabbit, as is customary for metafilter pet threads.

This leads me to conclude:

1) it's not about the rabbit
2) nobody wants a cute picture because nobody wants an even better mental visual on worst case scenario
3) we're all collectively worried for your bunny
4) boyfriend should maybe go
posted by slateyness at 9:31 PM on October 26, 2016 [29 favorites]

Well I'd like to see a picture of the rabbit, nice and safe, once you've ditched your horrible boyfriend. I'm sure you're busy right now.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:34 PM on October 26, 2016 [22 favorites]

I do believe there's such a thing as dangerous dogs, but I don't think there's such a thing as bad dogs. There is very much such a thing as bad dog owners. And the problem with bad dog owners is that they don't stop having dogs or deal with their own issues until something majorly destructive happens, and often not even then.

Sequence is perfectly right here. This is not a bad dog! She is just expressing her natural behavior. My own dog has a very very high prey drive. He is a good dog but I can tell when a cat or rabbit or squirrel is within a hundred yards because he locks on like a laser, even in the dark! His whole body language changes and he goes from slouching along at my knee staring at nothing in particular to prancing along on his toes, every line taut with anticipation and straining to get closer to his target.

So as a responsible owner, I don't take him places where he might hurt someone's beloved pet. New Girl needs to be in a home with no small animals (ie bunnies and cats) where she can be loved and safe and not set up to fail a test she can't possibly pass. She isn't being bad for wanting to hunt. She is being herself.
posted by winna at 9:39 PM on October 26, 2016 [11 favorites]

As someone whose parents bought a dalmatian we were completely unprepared for when I was a child, and then had it grab a smaller dog by the neck and shake it, only narrowly avoiding killing it, your boyfriend is delusional. These are NOT good dogs to have around anything small and prey-like. (Our crazy Dalmatian went on to live a very happy life with one of my uncles who had the time to wear her out by letting her run beside his pickup on deserted rural roads until she was exhausted.)
posted by MsMolly at 10:34 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

I would forever be the evil bitch that wouldn't even let him have a sweet doggie.

This is a horrible way to describe someone who wants to keep her beloved pet safe and have a positive relationship based on mutuality, communication, and compromise. This guy and his dog need to go.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:41 PM on October 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

Get a roommate and kick him and his dog out or find a place that needs a roommate or a studio apartment or something.

This guy is extremely childish and I can't believe he threw a tantrum and emotionally blackmailed you to get an animal that you're uncomfortable with. Dogs (and pets) are not only dangerous to other animals but to humans too! I have a feeling YOU also don't feel safe around this dog.

Four anecdotes:
When I was very young we had a Dalmatian. Beautiful loyal dog. But they are hunting dogs. Ours was so sweet and gentle but he would take a running start off the back deck to literally catch birds in midair and tear them apart. On a daily basis. Our backyard was littered with bird parts. (And as I child we "healed" many of them that were hurt with antiseptic spray and a box in a shed. My dad of course told me they got better. They all died.) He was later given away shortly after because it was a litteral mess and not the place for a family with a young child (me).

We later had a rescue great dane that had been abused. She was pretty jumpy and would bite at you when you went near her collar. We were slowly training her to be comfortable with us. One night, something brushed against her and freaked her out and she woke up and bit my dad's (shoed) foot as hard as she could. She pierced the leather and would have severely damaged his foot if he were not wearing shoes. She also was pretty instantly rehomed.

We had a sweet great dane show dog (she was even in a GAP commercial!) She was very alpha. One day after months of getting along with our other dogs she viciously attacked our collie and ripped open his neck and he nearly died from his wounds. She also was rehomed.

We got a terrier that didn't like our cat. He would chase her around and it quickly escalated to trying to bite and attack her. He also got rehomed.

(Yes, I grew up with a lot of dogs.)

So anyone who doesn't take your concerns seriously about danger to yourself or your current pets is an asshole. Especially with a larger dog. (It's not like keep the hamster caged closed around the cat situation. The bunny was there first and needs more room.)
posted by Crystalinne at 10:51 PM on October 26, 2016

Rehome the boyfriend and his dog. Keep the rabbit.

You deserve to be with someone who will happily love and cuddle your bunnies with you!
posted by dancing_angel at 12:11 AM on October 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: OP, it sounds from your followup post that you aren't going to move out or insist he move out, for financial reasons. But you could get a second job, or get room-mates, or stay with friends/family members for a while. Any of those would be preferable to what you're dealing with now.

Please don't teach your boyfriend that it is fine for him to act this way, by allowing this situation to stand as is. He needs to know that acting like a psychopath has negative consequences for him, namely losing his home and/or girlfriend. And btw, I'm not being hyperbolic when I use the word psychopath--he's displaying ZERO compassion towards your bunny or towards you. Lack of compassion is one of the hallmarks of psychopathy. And gaslighting is a prime technique of psychopaths.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 1:36 AM on October 27, 2016 [11 favorites]

Best answer: After reading your update, it sounds like part of your concern is logistics about how to afford housing on your expected income. This is totally reasonable, but it sounds like you feel somewhat trapped in your relationship. If you were making enough money to afford your place on your own, what would you want to do? Realistically, how likely are you to be able to find a roommate or other acceptable living situation? Maybe explore that option a bit--nobody should have to feel like they must stay in a relationship to afford a place to live. (Though I get that it happens a lot, and also that this is surely not the only reason you haven't moved out already, I'm sure it's adding a lot to the stress.)

I hate to be blunt, but think of I his way: do you want to separate before or after your bunny is eaten?
posted by instamatic at 1:39 AM on October 27, 2016 [14 favorites]

1. Get rid of the dog. I mean, you haven't even had it for 4 days. Return it to the breeder.

2. Consider if you want to get rid of your boyfriend. In many LTRs, people screw up, but then they make things right. Is that what's happening here or is this part of a far larger pattern where he's childish and refers to you as an evil bitch and you've been thinking you want out for a while now? Now you're getting this job, maybe you can see where you can end things?

It's clear he's coming at this with a certain frame of reference where what he's doing is fine (unless he really is a psychopath). I am sure that in his thinking, this will work. You've stated why you didn't think it will work and it's possible he thinks that he 100% CAN make this work; that you're overreacting and projecting because of your past bad experience with another dog. His tantrumy reaction was obnoxious but sure, maybe everyone gets to have one of those in life. They learn from it and it doesn't happen again.

What I'm trying to say is that this may be a really bad communication issue, and it's kind of a blip in your otherwise okay relationship -- only you know if it is.

It could also be that like I said upthread, you want out of this relationship for other reasons and this dog situation is a really good concrete excuse to break up. That's also fine. You need to do some thinking about whether you want to be with him.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:15 AM on October 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Please please get you and your bunny out. And post a picture when bunny is safe.
posted by daybeforetheday at 2:26 AM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Even if the dog never attacks your rabbit - which seems unlikely - he'll be living in fear constantly with the dog around. And so will you.

And even if your boyfriend had brought home a snoozy, toothless, legless, vegan critter, you would still have a say in whether it stays. That's how it works in households with multiple adults - you both have to agree on major things like adopting pets. "I don't want another pet right now" is reason enough, and a good partner would respect that.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:11 AM on October 27, 2016 [7 favorites]

Um, your boyfriend does not sound like a good boyfriend. He sounds deeply manipulative, uncaring, selfish, inconsiderate, childish, thoughtless, and rude. You said yourself that you fear the inevitable tantrum he would throw if you put your foot down. Sorry, but in healthy adult relationships there should be no fear of tantrums. Ever. Do you really want to be in a relationship with someone who is utterly incapable of having a serious, calm, respectful conversation when important situations arise?

And seriously, who just brings home a new pet without talking to their partner first? I mean, jesus, I would let my husband know before I got a new frying pan for christssake! I can't fathom having someone just show up with a new pet like this without talking to you first. A pet is a huge responsibility and comes with a whole bucket of accommodations and modification to your life, not to mention huge cost. I would spend the rest of my life in constant fear of what other major decisions he is going to make without consultation.

And even if this was just a blip in his judgement, any normal caring rational person would pull the plug on this as soon as he saw that the new dog was clearly viewing the rabbit as prey. Any normal caring rational person would be horrified that someone else's beloved pet almost certainly going to be killed because of them.

Sorry, but your boyfriend is a dick. This situation has revealed a tremendous amount about your boyfriend, none of it good. The depth of his lack of consideration or caring is mindboggling. And his complete disregard for your concerns and worries... He is showing you EXACTLY how much he cares about you and your feelings, and it is zero. You really need to remove yourself from this. From what you've described this relationship of yours is not likely to end well, and his shitty manipulative immature behaviour is probably only going to get worse.

Find a second job. Get a roommate. Do whatever needs to be done to get out of this situation.

Give your bunny a pet for me.
Give the waste of space boyfriend of yours a kick in the shins for me as you move out.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:19 AM on October 27, 2016 [8 favorites]

Okay, the bottom line here is that staying in your current living situation inevitably ends with the death of your pet and it's only a matter of time (not much time, by the looks of things).

For that reason alone, I think it's unfortunate that so many people are urging you to make gigantic life changes - leave your boyfriend, get a new place on your part-time salary - which would in reality take at least several weeks to accomplish, even if you could afford them, which you know you can't.

The reality is also that many people tolerate unhappy living situations, even ones that are dangerous in some respects, because they simply aren't rich enough to do otherwise. I just want to affirm to you that you don't have to accept the shame that often comes, intentionally or not, with "self-respect" mandates that require you to live beyond your means.

However, your rabbit still is in serious and immediate danger. I strongly urge you to immediately take freezer cake up on their offer. Like, today. Don't wait. And please don't think that you need to already be living the perfect self-actualized lifestyle before you can protect an animal that you are responsible for. Just reduce this conflict to its bare essentials, which are: your rabbit will die with that dog in the house.
posted by tel3path at 8:15 AM on October 27, 2016 [13 favorites]

Why on earth is your bunny the one stuck in the hutch when the dog is the one misbehaving? Talk about punishing the victim! New Girl can't behave in Bunny's home, New Girl's the one that needs to be crated, not Bunny. (FTR: I'm a dog lover, and I side with Bunny here)

Extraordinary lack of kindness and empathy on your BF's side. Not cool. Not cool at all.

And what kind of irresponsible [clearly doesn't know crap about dogs or just doesn't care] breeder would give a dog to a house with bunnies?!!!!
posted by Neekee at 8:36 AM on October 27, 2016 [6 favorites]

Just saw your update. I'm sorry about the job situation.

Adding my vote to: your BF is really irrational. You are definitely not the crazy one here. You have the right to have boundaries. He *just* got New Girl, you've had Bunny for 9 years. He has absolutely no right to guilt you over this. Imagine if the attitudes were reversed? If you threw the same fit (in your case justifiable bc bunny safety), would he care like you do?

I recently saw two memes that might help:
"You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm"
"Don't set yourself on fire for someone who would just watch you burn"
posted by Neekee at 8:46 AM on October 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

Seconding pretty much everything that has already been said here, especially about the gaslighting. This part really stood out to me:

I expressed my concerns and delineated possible outcomes, and he threw a tantrum saying, "FINE! I won't get the dog! I'll never have another dog again for the rest of my life!!" And when I countered with, "I want you to have dogs, just let's think about getting the *right* one", there was a mix of, "Oh No, I can see how you REALLY feel" or "Oh, ok" (followed by lip service about how he doesn't want the bunny to be attacked, etc.). It's safe to say that I feel like I was pushed into doing this.

I'm going to guess that this is typically how a disagreement goes down in your household, and that you've spent the last 4.5 years (or maybe less, people like this can be really good at hiding their toxicity until their partner is too enmeshed to leave) gently silencing/diminishing/apologising for yourself and your needs in order to avoid these tantrums. This is at least crappy and at most sustained emotional abuse and gaslighting. Do you always come out of it feeling like the enemy or the buzzkill? Like you've got to do the work to fix things? Yeah, sadly, that's how these guys thrive.

Here's it writ large: you matter. Your feelings matter. Your kindness and skill and love of animals matters. Your sweet bunny matters. The fact that you came here to feel validated suggests to me that you rarely feel that way at home, which is another hallmark of a toxic and unbalanced/abusive dynamic.

It sounds like you're in a pretty sucky job situation, so maybe option 5 and 6 aren't available right now. If it were me, I would at least make all of this clear to your bf so he can start doing the work he needs to do in order to make up for being a monumental asshole. Do you feel able (read: safe enough) to have that conversation? Do you think it will have any effect? Ask yourself these questions and let the answers inform your decision. It sounds kinda like you're already checked out on this guy (and with good reason) so maybe the answer is to quietly start making plans to leave.

I'm sorry this is all happening and that it's come to this, it's really hard to realise this shit. <3
posted by fight or flight at 9:24 AM on October 27, 2016 [8 favorites]

My brother's dog escaped onto our back porch (he was drunk and didn't care, I was out of town and couldn't do anything about it) and killed my bunny in a matter of seconds. The dog was a pointer, not a Dalmatian, and the bunny was in a cage with 4 foot high walls, but I agree with everyone else: this dog will kill your bunny in a heartbeat.

Your bf reminds me of my ex. It will not get better. The level of emotional abuse you describe just keeps getting worse. I mean, as a couple you can't even make a decision that keeps your well-being and the well-being of your animal in mind. Making decisions is kind of important in relationships.
posted by guster4lovers at 7:24 PM on October 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

I rehomed a rescue dog back to the shelter because she showed drive towards my elderly cats. No hesitation; some dogs have drive, some dogs don't. It isn't possible to redirect it if it's there, especially at this age (this isn't a malleable puppy). For my part, I knew when she broke her leash to run down a jackrabbit it wasn't going to work.

Meanwhile, the bunny is terrified and stress is ongoing. This is a recipe for GI stasis! Dog has to go back. Or you have to go. I know very well the kind of discussion this provokes ("so I never get to have anything of my own then") but your rabbit was there first.
posted by Nyx at 12:02 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Whenever I tried to discuss the matter with BF before he brought New Girl home, it did not go well. I expressed my concerns and delineated possible outcomes, and he threw a tantrum...

Then it's ultimatum time. Either the dog moves out, or both of them do. His call.
posted by flabdablet at 5:32 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

We have a pet bunny. We also have a new-ish border collie. She 100% wants to kill and eat the bunny. She has 100% tried to kill and eat the bunny before we realized quite how serious she was. We've had to structure our house so that she can't be outside the door to the office where the bunny lives. We have another gate inside the office to keep the bunny away from the door on the off-chance that the dog is at the office door when my partner emerges from the office. It's really not fun for anyone, and we've taken great great great pains to make sure the bunny isn't stressed.

You know as well as I do - this kind of stress of a prey animal living with a dog (especially a dog like a dalmatian) can lead to stress which kills the animal sooner rather than later.

If we hadn't worked out this solution, we would have had to have the rescue organization help us find another home for the dog. We knew that going into it, and it was still hard to figure out. Boyfriend needs to make hard decisions here, and so do you.

At the very very VERY least, the bunny shouldn't be in a cage in the same room as the dog, EVER. EVER.

Best of luck.
posted by barnone at 12:12 PM on October 30, 2016

I think your boyfriend need get rid of the dog. The important question that he choose you, or that dog?
posted by Shower head guide at 7:33 PM on November 6, 2016

Response by poster: My thanks to everyone for your input. Just to follow up, I've found a way to barricade bunny in his own special area, so he still gets the freedom to run in part of the house. We have implemented an additional layer of security by locking the dog in a comfortable room with all her amenities whenever we are not at home. Boyfriend has been consistently supportive in all of these efforts.

Things are far from perfect with the boyfriend, but that's a matter for future posts. You are all spot on in your insights, of course. I'm working on an exit strategy, which is always challenging.
posted by Mistress of the Bunnies at 7:39 AM on December 16, 2016 [9 favorites]

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