But... my dog *has* a job. She loves me!
July 22, 2008 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Man who was raised in a culture where animals are meant to be working on a farm and not kept for fun... dating a dog-lovin' woman who owns a face-licking puppy. Clearly not a long-term match perhaps, but how to ease the discomfort of either party, respect everyone's feelings, and bypass disagreements?

My 12 pound dog is well trained, cute (to everyone but him), and very sweet. She's polite and under voice control. We're very attached, she goes almost everywhere with me. She sleeps at the foot of my bed, and I like her there. I love this dog and she LOVES people, including this man. She wants to say hello and play, and he just stares at her. Sometimes he'll pet her... but later he'll act like he deserved a medal for it. He says he doesn't like pets because they're a responsibility. I tell him, "my dog is MY responsibility though, it doesn't affect you. And you have two children so those are responsibilities too. Many good things in life are responsibilities."

I don't force my dog on him. But I'm not going to hide her, and I can't always control that she wants to say hello to him... she's naturally affectionate (normally not a bad thing). I tell him "I love my dog, sorry but ya gotta deal with it." His favorite argument is that he doesn't understand why people adopt dogs instead of giving a home to a child. Many conversations about pets end up at this argument... which isn't won by saying, "Well, I wanted a dog *because* I didn't WANT a child." I also tried once to compare it to him loving soccer and me hating it but watching it with him anyhow. He says that's a bad comparison.

I know and respect that this is all cultural. I was raised by people who felt that a home isn't complete without a dog curled up at your feet. He was raised in a country where dogs are vermin and animals that are owned by humans live outdoors and are there for a purpose. They're kept solely to have jobs. He resents it that American society implies if you don't love "useless" pets you are lacking compassion. I see his point, because that was my first reaction. But I also think he holds that social pressure against the animals more than actually disliking them... kind of an "Everyone says I have to do this so screw that, I'm not going to. Everyone thinks I have to like pets? Well, no! I HATE DOGS! So there!" It's a bit of a soapbox for him, and it gets tiring because I'm not telling him how to feel, but *I'm* not going to change when I own a dog I adore with all of my heart. He says "Well, I'm fine with you liking your dog. You can keep liking your dog." And then I get annoyed because... why would I need his approval.

As you can tell, it's the conversations about it that get on my nerves more than anything. Every time the topic comes up (even when he hasn't seen my dog for months) my head starts to hurt. I would like it to be a non-issue.

Lately I've just stopped inviting him over and just go to his place. But in the future he'll be visiting me in another city so that won't be an option. When he used to come over to my house, I'd crate my dog sometimes. Other times I'd let her loose and he'd tolerate her. But I saw that her personality started to change as did mine... she seemed kind of depressed because I wasn't giving her as much attention. She would slink away when she wanted to show him love and he didn't respond favorably (she's used to people on the street happily rubbing her belly), and when I'd try to crate her she started to cower and whimper like I was being mean. It's hard for me because in my mind, she's my baby (he winces when I say that) and frankly, it's HER house more than it is his. But dogs are dogs and people are people and I want to respect his issue. I'm allergic to cats but have learned to like my friends cats and respect that it's their home and not mine. I'm flexible like that, though. Not sure he is ready to think that way. Not sure how to make this situation totally comfortable for all people and puppies involved, or if I even can.

Any suggestions on how to keep this from being a repeated topic of conversation and stress? To be honest, if I have to choose between the two... the dog wins. But I would rather not have to go there. I'd like to appreciate the good parts of my relationship with him and adore my beloved puppy too, without the two clashing.

Sorry this is so long.
posted by miss lynnster to Human Relations (69 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If he didn't like your kid, I don't think this would be even be an issue because I think he would be gone.

You've set in your mind that the dog is important. If he can't live with that, then he's forcing you to make a very drastic change.

And for what it's worth, I think comparing this to soccer is a bad comparison as well.
posted by theichibun at 12:23 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

If he loves and wants to be with you, then he needs to GET OVER IT. Seriously. It's HIS problem, not yours. There's really nothing you can do about it - you love your dog, and that's a beautiful thing. She sounds well-trained and obedient, so he should stop complaining. If he can't resolve himself to respect your wishes, then too bad for him (and unfortunately for you if you break up).

Sounds like something else is making him uncomfortable, because this is kind of ridiculous...
posted by anthropoid at 12:29 PM on July 22, 2008

His favorite argument is that he doesn't understand why people adopt dogs instead of giving a home to a child

Is he talking about you specifically? If he is, either in a direct or passive-aggressive way, it's totally a jerk move- to group you, the woman he's dating, in with "people", like you're just some random booger-eating idiot. That would make me furious. I think you should stand up to him and tell him it's none of his business that you've chosen to have a pet, and that he needs to drop the issue now and forever.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:30 PM on July 22, 2008 [6 favorites]

The next time a conversations starts, try saying something like "Don't worry, I remember your feelings about dogs/pets! Mine are all the same so if yours are too we can skip this conversation and get on to [whatever]!" But say it cheerfully not snarkfully if possible.

I wouldn't change your behavior, or crate the dog when he comes over unless you were going to anyway. The dog will eventually adapt to not receiving affection from him due to lack of positive reinforcement. Whereas, if you create negative reinforcement around his visits, the dog might resent him vs. just ignore him.
posted by mikepop at 12:30 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Perhaps not a long-term solution to your problem, but perhaps you can agree to meet in some neutral location (i.e.: go out, rather than to one or the other's house) for a while until this gets sorted out?

If it were me, I'd sit down and have a heart to heart with the guy. I'd basically let him know that I want both pet and human in my life, and there has to be a way to get along amicably. Ask him where his line in the sand is, in terms of how far he's willing to go to compromise on the issue, and let him know how far you're willing to compromise. There's got to be some middle ground. Ask him to help you find it.

Clarify that him not particularly liking pets does not mean you are condemning him, since it sounds like that might be a major roadblock to resolving this issue, right there.

Also, you might point out to him that the dog will never learn not to be so affectionate towards him unless she's exposed to him long enough to get the picture. That argues for more time spent with the dog, not less. :)

Good luck!
posted by LN at 12:31 PM on July 22, 2008

I would not continue a relationship with someone who was like this with my dogs.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 12:41 PM on July 22, 2008 [7 favorites]

The problem sounds like it's not the dog, it's not even his feelings about dogs.

It's the conversations. So don't have them. Have one final conversation where you tell him how tired you are of rehashing the same discussion over and over. You both know how the other one feels, so don't go there anymore. mikepop has a good line to head it off at the pass.

As far as your dog's hurt feelings go, you're undoubtedly a lot more upset about the whole thing than she is. Just treat her normally, and let him ignore her.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:41 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

DTMFA. He sounds like a class-A jerk. He doesn't have to like dogs, but to keep bringing it up and rubbing in how much he dislikes them is just callous and disrespectful. There are so, so many people in the world who love dogs as much as you do that to date someone with so little regard for a big part of your life doesn't make sense to me at all.

Anecdotally, I am also dating someone who's "not a dog person". I have a big, slobbery, 65lb monster of a dog who sounds like he's much worse behaved and more disruptive than your dog is. When I first started dating the guy, I thought there was very little long-term potential because of his stance on dogs. Gradually, he fell in love with me and eventually realized he cares enough about me to make an effort to get along with my dog. You deserve a guy who's willing to do that. Sounds like your puppy is more than willing to make friends with the guy, so it's the guy who's being unreasonable.
posted by booknerd at 12:43 PM on July 22, 2008 [4 favorites]

First- dogs don't have personalities. You're projecting your feelings onto the animal.

Keep it in the yard when he's there. That way it won't be crated-up. He seems comfortable with not having the dog around. You should learn to do the same.

You're not flexible because you're too attached to the dog and/or you might be unconsciously using the dog as an excuse not to have a relationship with the man.

Sorry to be so brusque, but people come on this site for straight answers. All I really see from most people is hand-holding and syrupy "support".

Good luck.

PS- I love football (soccer), but if he's watching that American MLS crap, dump him. I would not wish that on anybody.
posted by Zambrano at 12:45 PM on July 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

I wonder about the cultural aspect of this...I know a lot of people, most family, who are from cultures where dogs are not commonly kept as pets. They manage to be polite to others pets when visiting homes with pets, and do not harp on the issue with individual family members who have chosen to go against the cultural norm and take on a family pet. Admittedly none of these are dating relationships, but still I wonder if it's not so much a cultural thing in this guy's case as it is him just coming to grips with (or trying to resist/fight against) the fact that being a pet owner is a major part of your identity and that he'll have to include the dog in his life to the extent that he wants to include you in his life.
posted by PY at 12:50 PM on July 22, 2008

He doesn't have to love the dog. He doesn't even have to like the dog.

But he does have to love/like YOU enough to make an effort to be nice about it. And being nice doesn't mean tolerating the dog, but arguing that he's right. Being nice about it means agreeing that because it's important to YOU, then it's important enough to HIM to respect your feelings.

It basically boils down to respecting your feelings *because you've asked him to*, and because (hopefully) he respects you.

And if he can't do that, you have a big problem.
posted by wayward vagabond at 12:50 PM on July 22, 2008 [4 favorites]

You didn't post what you are getting from this relationship. Is he basically a good guy who treats you well and this is your one, ahem, bone of contention?

I admit to a bias as an animal lover, but I feel that you should DTMFA because he sounds like a jerk, frankly. Not because he doesn't like dogs, but because he's being downright selfish and passive-aggressive about this. He's refusing to consider your point of view, he doesn't want to put himself in your shoes; he's like a five-year-old stamping his feet and saying, "You can't MAKE ME like dogs, so nanny-nanny-boo-boo!" He expects YOU to do all the giving-in, compromising, and working at the relationship.

Does he expect you to do the giving and him to do the taking in other areas as well? Is he going to react in a stubborn, selfish way when the inevitable rough patches arise in your relationship? Is he worth this?
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:54 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't especially like dogs, and feel incredibly uncomfortable if one licks me. I've also been in a relationship where this was seen as some character flaw on my part, though the dog in those discussions was still theoretical. It seems that what may be happening is that you want him to respond to affectionately to your dog, and this leads to the same old discussion about pets. A compromise could be that when your dog goes up to him and does whatever she normally does, you respond like you would if she went up to someone on the street who didn't want to be licked or touched (for example, a child who is frightened of dogs). In exchange, he agrees to drop the discussions. He may end up feeling more comfortable with your dog if he's able to respond to her as he sees fit, rather than feeling like he has to either be affectionate towards her or explain to you why he's not.

You may decide that you don't want to be with him if he doesn't love your dog as much as you do, and that's perfectly ok, too.
posted by capsizing at 12:54 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am sympathetic to you on everything except this:

in my mind, she's my baby

This is crazy dog lady talk. Please don't be that person. You don't sound like it otherwise.

(he winces when I say that)

As well he should. Infantile Pet Sublimation is creepy and weird, and over time can turn into little dog bonnets, pet strollers, and loss of friends.

I guess my advice would be stick to your guns, but also make a really serious effort to get the anthropomorphization under control, in thought and action, especially when he's around. I'll bet there's a line he's willing to cross (dog as beloved pet), and another one he will absolutely not (dog as little person).

Good luck to all!
posted by Aquaman at 12:54 PM on July 22, 2008 [10 favorites]

Dogs aren't children, children aren't dogs...but if he wouldn't send his kids to a sitter when you visit, he shouldn't expect you to do anything special with your dog. Also, his arguments are silly to the point of utter absurdity, which is indicative of the fact that this isn't really about the dog.


....and pay no mind to Zambrano. Sounds like he and your significant other would get along pretty well.
posted by toomuchpete at 12:56 PM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

To me, as someone whose best friend is a canine-American, this is a values disconnect that can't be won and shouldn't be fought -- you love your dog, your dog is your friend. He's basically telling you to dump your friend, or at least treat your friend quite poorly, and making no effort to see what you value in your friend.

I'd DTMFA before the kibble hit the floor. Personally. And find someone who felt the way I do about dogs (and I did.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:58 PM on July 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

I agree with TPS, wayward vagabond and everyone else--and I would add that you sound like you are being pretty flexible and that he kind of sounds jerky. I know people from cultures that have different views on pets and they don't sound like him.

I wouldn't date someone who felt this way about my dogs and, really, me. Aside from anything actually having to do with the dog or dog/kid thing, he doesn't sound like he's very nice about all this and doesn't really seem to care about your feelings. This could be the way he is about anything.

Clearly not a long-term match perhaps,

So I wouldn't bother being uphappy right now if there's no real potential.

And I of course disagree with everything Zambrano said. Keep him in the yard. Yeah.
posted by Pax at 1:00 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

To be honest, if I have to choose between the two... the dog wins.

He might know that and resent it. I see rodents as vermin, and if I were dating someone who kept a pet chinchilla and clearly would drop me for the chinchilla in a second, I might be kind of a dick about it.

That said, he still needs to get over it. You've made it clear that your dog is important to you, and if he can't embrace the things you find important, he's not a good partner. Nthing the suggestion that you tell your guy (firmly) that the topic is no longer up for discussion.
posted by arianell at 1:01 PM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Any suggestions on how to keep this from being a repeated topic of conversation and stress?

Ask him to stop talking about it. Ya'll have talked about it, everyone knows where everyone stands and nothing is going to change.

But he can't stop talkin' about it, you know why? Because he doesn't like dogs and finds their presence annoying. If you constantly had to be around something that annoyed the shit outta you in order to be around someone you'd like, you wouldn't be able to let it drop either.

I want to respect his issue

It's not his issue, it's an issue, one that is effecting the relationship. Neither one of you is wrong, but this can't really be solved, can it? You want him to change who he is (yes, deep down you do, you know it) and he doesn't seem a problem with who he is, so it's just not going to work. Let me break it down for ya: He wants the dog gone. You want it there. Somebody has to give. and yes, comparing it to soccer or to his kids is a terrible comparison. That you would even try to compare them means ya'll are on vastly differently wavelengths.

This is crazy dog lady talk.
Yeah. I love dogs, but they're dogs, not babies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:03 PM on July 22, 2008

Ignore the person who says dogs don't have personalities. I'm not even a big dog person, but of course they have personalities!
posted by onlyconnect at 1:05 PM on July 22, 2008 [6 favorites]

As a non-dog-person, I hate people who think I should love their dog and want it to come up and lick me. I don't. (I will pat dogs, but I will push dogs away if they lick me.) You don't need to crate her, but let the guy out of accepting her overly friendly hellos already. She can cope with someone who doesn't love her immediately, or even at all.

Then ask him to quit the passive-aggressive shit. You know he thinks you're overattached to your dog. You know he doesn't like dogs. There is no need to bring it up anymore. If he won't, well, you'll decide if the relationship is worth the arguments about dogs. He doesn't seem to consider the dog a dealbreaker, it's the discussions surrounding it that are problematic.
posted by jeather at 1:05 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I grew up with dogs (lots and lots of dogs, some as pets and many as working dogs; I've even slept in the kennel) but I really feel strongly that face-licking is gross. It really really grosses me out and turns me off. Is that the trigger for "the talk"? Maybe he feels the same way as me. Maybe Aquaman's advice is useful - don't be a crazy dog lady, or at least not while the man is around. (But the guy does come off sounding a bit jerkish from your description.)
posted by anadem at 1:10 PM on July 22, 2008

This is a tough call, but I'd say ditch him. If your dog's behaviour is being negatively affected by his presence then it's time for him to stop ASAP or go and get lost.
posted by Vindaloo at 1:17 PM on July 22, 2008

But he can't stop talkin' about it, you know why? Because he doesn't like dogs and finds their presence annoying. If you constantly had to be around something that annoyed the shit outta you in order to be around someone you'd like, you wouldn't be able to let it drop either.

You missed the part where I said that he hasn't even SEEN my dog in months, I've only been going to his place. Yet still talks about society judging him for not liking dogs and how he just doesn't get it.

I'm moving away so it's not like I'm in a serious enough relationship that there is a need to DTMFA over this. But I think everyone who says I should just head the conversation off at the pass and should stop overcompensating to make him comfortable is correct. I'm pretty over it. He even had us repeat our sentences after eachother on the topic the other day, as though I didn't already get it. I'm seriously bored with the topic, and it's always weird since everyone else in my life thinks my pup is stellar. (I don't have a backyard by the way, which is why I crated her. So "throw her in the backyard, jerk" was not exactly helpful advice.)

BTW when I say my dog is my baby, I don't mean LITERALLY. She's a DOG. Jesus, people. I'm not that lady.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:25 PM on July 22, 2008

Ms. Lynnster, not to pry, but are you perhaps dating someone from North Africa? I only ask because people there (who had the same attitude as your current amour) seemed to lack the dog empathy gene entirely. They backed this up with quotes from the Quran, fictitious reasons why dogs are "dirty" etc...

And I may also want to mention - my dog was killed while I was over there. When your dear pet is ill, or god forbid, goes to dog heaven - may I just say that it stinks to have people around you who can't understand your grief and pain, and say things like "You can just get another, what's the problem?"

As for what you can do - nada. And you know it. He doesn't believe that dogs should be companion animals, much less live in the house. You do. Stalemate. Yeah, yeah, I know you're being very culturally sensitive, I've been there. I ask you, though - what if this was some born and bred American guy who had the same feelings?

Note: I'm not saying the guy is wrong - just that he has a mindset that dramatically clashes with Ms. L, and I know how it feels to be in that same situation. So no flames about how I don't understand Islamic culture yada yada yada - because I sure as hell do. And some of it is wonderful, and other parts are not so great - like this.
posted by Liosliath at 1:27 PM on July 22, 2008

Sorry, I don't buy the culture argument and you don't have to respect it if he lives here and chooses to date outside his culture. If his culture is that different, he's no doubt had to make myriad other adjustments to cope with life in the US, and he can thus make this one. However, "you learned to drive on the right side of the road, why can't you learn to love my dog?" is probably not going anywhere. I think it's better to have some compromise of him not having to interact with the dog - why should he have to do so, when you clearly prefer the dog to him? You've already said you'd choose the dog if it came down to it. It's just rubbing your man's face in it to expect him to be nice to it. (This is coming from someone who owns two dogs and two cats and would miss any of them terribly.)
posted by desjardins at 1:33 PM on July 22, 2008

he hasn't even SEEN my dog in months, I've only been going to his place. Yet still talks about society judging him for not liking dogs and how he just doesn't get it.

i.e. he really doesn't like dogs and isn't going to get over it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:35 PM on July 22, 2008

It's pretty hard to respect each other over such diverse issues, though I appreciate the way you've tried to see his point of view. Doesn't matter who's right here, it's about values and you have disimilar values over an issue that is important to both of you. This will never be just about your dog. It'll be about watching a story on tv about animal abuse and you may find yourself appalled at his attitude. He will think you are catching germs in the park from a variety of animals. If the relationship became formal, the money spent on vet bills and dog food would be an issue.

The easiest way to maintain a connection with this man is to keep him away from your dog. As you say, this will be difficult in the future. You've already said, man or dog, you'd pick the dog, so you know the inevitable ending. I think you are right to stick with the dog. Giving up a passion in order to have a relationship would cause you to resent the relationship and be unhappy.

I'm sorry. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can't make things work out.
posted by b33j at 1:37 PM on July 22, 2008

I'll add my vote to the DTMFA camp.

If I'm reading this correctly, he's bringing up over and over a topic that he knows bothers you and is insensitive to something you're passionate about. Changing your soccer analogy... how would he feel if you constantly brought up how watching sports is a complete waste of time and you can't understand why someone would do it.

You love your dog. That's a huge part (from what I can tell) of who you are. He doesn't have to like everything you like, but he should respect your likes. If that makes sense.
posted by INTPLibrarian at 1:39 PM on July 22, 2008

BINGO! North Africa it is!
posted by miss lynnster at 1:45 PM on July 22, 2008

I'm not saying DTMFA exactly, but the reality is that this kind of cultural difference is hard if not impossible to get over. He doesn't sound like he's willing to have an open mind about this and change his perspective, and neither do you (that's not a slam, on either of you... just a reality).

It sounds to me that this is less about him trying to justify his perspective to you, and more about him trying to convince you, bit by bit, to come over to his way of thinking about dogs. Maybe he's hoping that if he can do so, the two of you can have a closer/long term/permanent relationship?

Everyone goes into relationships with some things they're willing to compromise on, and some they're not willing to. Sometimes you know it beforehand, but often (like in this case) you don't find out until you're already in it. But in the end you have three options:

1) He learns to compromise about the dog, and you continue/deepen your relationship.
2) You learn to compromise about the dog, and you continue/deepen your relationship.
3) Neither of you compromises

If it's option 3 - which it's sounding like it is, then you really have two choices. Either continue to stay together and each beat your head against this particular brick wall, or chalk it up to a learning experience, say goodbye, and come away with the knowledge that for your next relationship, you'll want to ensure before getting too involved that the guy is OK with pooches.

Relationships are never easy, nor is compromise... but neither of you should feel guilty (or be made to feel guilty) for what's important to you. Good luck.
posted by twiki at 1:59 PM on July 22, 2008

North Africa? Ouch. I grew up in a country (mostly Christian but with a substantial Muslim population) in West Africa, and while people around me were pretty accepting of dogs as pets... typical American pet ownership behavior is way beyond what you'll see there and what would be tolerated. I think he's being quite a bit of a jerk about the whole thing, but I see where he's coming from. American pet ownership can feel like a slap in the face to people who not only don't like pet animals, but who come from countries where the money that you're spending on your pet could go a very long way to save or improve several people's lives.

Again, I still feel like he's being a jerk and I echo what people have said: Agree to disagree and don't talk about it anymore.
posted by quirks at 2:04 PM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

I don't have any suggestions, but I'd like to point out that if you continue a relationship with this man, this will be the last pet you own. Are you ok with that notion?
posted by necessitas at 2:08 PM on July 22, 2008

If dogs are as important to you as they are to me and my wife, I cannot fathom why you are even giving this guy enough of a chance to write an AskMe question about him. He does not sound salvageable as a mate.

I know that there are people like him, and I am not saying he is a "bad person" in any universal, objective sense. But he is a bad person for a relationship with a dog lover. Furthermore, he lacks empathy in failing to understand why dogs are so important to the people who love them. I think he's missing something that would make him a terrible partner.

His favorite argument is that he doesn't understand why people adopt dogs instead of giving a home to a child.

This is a really silly argument. It's so silly it is not worthy of rebuttal.

Miss Lynnster, I think I have a pretty good sense of what kind of person you are from your contributions around here (which are always great) so I just don't understand why you are tolerating this guy?
posted by jayder at 2:10 PM on July 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

I think he's missing something that would make him a terrible partner.

That sounds weird. I mean, "He's missing something, without which he will be a terrible partner."
posted by jayder at 2:10 PM on July 22, 2008

Not liking puppies is a symptom of having no soul. Move on.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:11 PM on July 22, 2008 [4 favorites]

I'm sorry, miss l, but my initial reaction (having grown up in Africa) is DTMFA.

I adore animals and hearing that his attitude and behavior has actually affected your beloved dog's attitude and behavior is much more than I could stand in a boyfriend. Not only are animals special and can have a unique positive impact on the lives of the humans around them (just think of hospice animals that work with the elderly, the friendly pooches that visit the hospital, your pal wagging his/her tail on the ground in front of you) but the impact of companion animals on some people suffering from mental or physical problems is so great that it is protected by law!

Moreover, animals are like our kid brothers or sisters, with feeling and all the love in the world but without the ability to protect themselves from poor treatment or harm. That's why it is incumbent on humans and particularly humans who invite an animal into their homes to be careful guardians of them.

You want your vet to be smart, well-informed, and love animals, right? And if you boarded your dog while you were away on vacation you'd make sure it was with someone who would give him/her love and affection as well as food and water, I'm sure. Why would you tolerate anything less in your boyfriend?

I'm sensitive to the cultural issue, but I'd reiterate: I grew up in Africa. Where survival is at stake, yes, the dogs definitely have to be 'working' animals. A European friend living in Cote d'Ivoire had her two cats stolen last month- she is almost certain they were eaten. Cat meat is a delicacy, and the price of meat has increased tremendously recently. Yet over the years, my family has sponsored half a dozen African students to come to the United States. All of them treated our animals with politeness at the beginning, but most of them grew to be genuinely affectionate with the animals.

Perhaps he has more tangled cultural barriers to non-working animals living in the home? Does he feel conflicted about leaving his native country, or is he still finding it difficult to make a place for himself in American society? I know when we first moved to Africa for the longest time my Mom insisted on using different soap for dishes, clothing and the bath. Not because the single brand of soap sold in the country we lived in didn't work fine for all three purposes but because where she was from, we used Dawn in the kitchen, Ivory in the bathroom, and Joy in the laundry.

I think you should expect nothing less than politeness (greeting the animal as he would a cherished member of his girlfriend's family) and hope that that deepens into genuine affection over time. Or just DTMFA.
posted by arnicae at 2:14 PM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Quirks makes a good point

American pet ownership can feel like a slap in the face to people who not only don't like pet animals, but who come from countries where the money that you're spending on your pet could go a very long way to save or improve several people's lives.

I hadn't thought of it that way. But again, and quirks agrees, I think a lot of us have known people who have the same cultural perspective on animals that don't sound so jerky.
posted by Pax at 2:19 PM on July 22, 2008

(and arnicae)
posted by Pax at 2:21 PM on July 22, 2008

I can understand why someone would be grossed out by face-licking dogs. Would you like a sloppy lick on the face from a dude who regularly tosses his own salad?

But yeah, this is a tough one. However, if the dog means more to you than the guy, there's little point in posting this question. The choice is made. It seems like a cultural thing that goes way deeper than his simply not being a dog person.
posted by mullingitover at 2:38 PM on July 22, 2008

All else aside-- the dog, the weird adopt-a-kid argument against dog ownership, the moving away-- the dude makes you repeat what he says after him to ensure that you get it?

You're not five and he's not a parent or a teacher to you. He's a guy in a mutual relationship with you, and he's not showing you the sort of respect you deserve. It's likely that, if you get more involved with him, you'll just get more of the same.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:39 PM on July 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

I grew up in Africa (as an ex-pat), and had pretty much the same attitude towards dogs. Bordering on hostile. Too many days of being chased down the street by unchained strays. And I certainly shared quirks' feelings about spending on animals when human poverty was so rampant.

Sixteen years later, and I'm a happy dog owner. I love my wife, she loves dogs, so I got over my fears and we adopted two pitbulls. I don't regret it in the slightest. If anything, I'm now one of those dog people I once disdained.

I don't think this is about culture. It's about the sacrifices we choose (or do not choose) to make for a relationship.
posted by bitterpants at 2:43 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm moving away so it's not like I'm in a serious enough relationship that there is a need to DTMFA over this.

I missed this.
posted by jayder at 2:43 PM on July 22, 2008

A nice man, upon seeing that you love something (regardless of what it is--80s metal, dollhouse miniatures, roller derby, your dog), will take a kindly interest in it solely because you love it. He may not love it himself, but he will try to understand what you love about it and make you feel supported in your love of it, because he cares about you. This man is not nice. DTMFA.

Also, to those trying to establish a hierarchy of creatures worthy of love (1. Children . . . etc.) or ridiculing the OP for her feelings toward her dog:

Love is love.

Of all the behaviors in the world worthy of your criticism, I would think that excessive regard for another living creature would be at the bottom of the list.
posted by HotToddy at 2:46 PM on July 22, 2008 [7 favorites]

I'm moving away so it's not like I'm in a serious enough relationship that there is a need to DTMFA over this.

Whoops, I missed this too. Well, _TMFA. Whatever seems appropriate.
posted by HotToddy at 2:50 PM on July 22, 2008

You can dump him and start dating me, I love dogs...

Seriously, though: it sounds like your relationship is heading towards desaster. Realize that you can't change him, and if you are holding out for some sign that he is going to change then now is a good opportunity to leave the relationship behind.
posted by nickerbocker at 2:54 PM on July 22, 2008

Miss L, if he's a Muslim I can say that the sharia enforced disdain for keeping dogs as pets is rather insurmountable. It may come down to religion for him.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:55 PM on July 22, 2008

Any suggestions on how to keep this from being a repeated topic of conversation and stress?

It sounds like you are a bit beyond there already. But the only way to make it into as much of a non-issue as possible is that he respects you, regardless of what other "social pressures" there are. From what you've said, that respect on his part does not seem to be there. Culture is not an excuse for lacking respect of one's significant other. You might not be able to fix his lack of respect. It sounds like it may beyond the dog issue.
posted by kellyblah at 3:00 PM on July 22, 2008

His favorite argument is that he doesn't understand why people adopt dogs instead of giving a home to a child.

If you think about it, we use the same word, adoption, for humans and animals. We also spend a huge amount of time and energy on our pets. Several people call their animals their "babies", including you. This might easily lead him to conclude that Americans nurture animals at the expense of nurturing people. Whether or not that's true, I can see how he got there.

You see this as a fixation on dog ownership, and a negative judgment of your relationship with your dog in particular.

He says, "Well, I'm fine with you liking your dog. You can keep liking your dog." However, he "still talks about society judging him for not liking dogs and how he just doesn't get it. "

I don't think this is about you and your dog. I don't think this is necessarily a passive-aggressive jab at you. He seems to be fixating on "liking dogs" as metaphor for his inability to feel completely comfortable here, in a foreign culture.

The things he values are not necessarily valued here. Some people see him as different and not to be trusted, and he doesn't understand why. He is judged as "less human" because of his cultural background. His religious beliefs are devalued. He experiences racism and xenophobia. He is tired of society judging him for having different customs, customs which harm no person.

So, when he complains that people don't like him because he doesn't like dogs, he's trying to communicate the hurt that he feels. It does hurt to be judged as a lesser person because of a small cultural difference. It does hurt to be called a jerk because you've hurt the feelings of an animal.

Even in this thread, people have said that he should "go back there"--meaning, they want him to leave his adopted home. Because he doesn't like dogs.
posted by sondrialiac at 3:09 PM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

And I certainly shared quirks' feelings about spending on animals when human poverty was so rampant.

You're putting words in my mouth. :) I do feel that way, but only sort of. I feel that ultimately people can spend their money how they want. I grew up owning and loving pets, as did my mother and her mother (all in this third world country). There's many things I would criticize spending money on before I get to pets (stupid pet accessories are still pretty high on my list, though).

My father, on the other hand, did not grow up with pets, but he puts up with my mother's fondness for our animals. He doesn't lecture her about it. And over the thirty+ years that they've been married, he's developed his own sort of fondness for them (he'll pet the dogs and he'll whistle to the parrots. Hey, it's something).
posted by quirks at 3:10 PM on July 22, 2008

I understand that you love your dog. Not as much as some people love their children, but a lot. I don't plan on having children, and I do enjoy companionship, so I understand the draw of a dog. Many of my favorite memories involve dogs with whom I've lived over the years.

Having said that, if I was dating someone whose child was constantly trying to lick my face, I would ask them to move their child away from me, no matter how much they loved that child. Particularly if that child had a habit of licking his or her own ass. If they moved the child away and the child immediately ran back and continued licking my face, I'd ask that all of our future dates take place away from the child. If the child's parent was offended that I didn't reward or encourage the child's face-licking with praise and belly-rubbing, I'd begin looking for other people with whom to spend my evenings.

This is not, I feel, an unreasonable course of action.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:12 PM on July 22, 2008

He's not a dog person. It doesn't matter why that is, it just matters that it is. What also matters is that his dislike of dogs impacts your dog when he is with you at your home, which is her home too. You crate her, spend less time with her, and she obviously gets that he doesn't like her.

There's a disconnect there -- he's not suddenly going to change his worldview on dogs just because you'd like him to. IMO, you have two options, meet somewhere other than your house, or kick his butt to the curb.

I'd vote for the latter, personally. Your dog sounds like the far better choice of companion.

Disclaimer: I am both a dog and a cat person and there is no way on the earth that I'd be involved with someone who not only disliked them, but actively disdained them.
posted by crankylex at 3:42 PM on July 22, 2008

Miss Lynnster, I think I have a pretty good sense of what kind of person you are from your contributions around here (which are always great) so I just don't understand why you are tolerating this guy?
posted by jayder at 4:10 PM on July 22

That is EXACTLY what I was thinking, right from the start and it only increased as I read down into what you wrote about your pooch and this guys relationship to that pooch, and to you; I just 'favorited' jaydars post.

Miss Lynnster, you really do seem thoughtful and decent, all answers of yours that I've seen seem rational and good-hearted and level-headed. I mean, sure, okay, maybe you're a closeted Nazi wearing black leather underpants and jumping up and down -- you are after all from LA, and love LA -- but that's not how we see you here, and I just really, really, really doubt that's the case.

Caging up your pooch because this guy has his undies in a bundle? Please.

Here's one possible scenario --
Location -- in this guys head.
Dialog -- "I don't like dogs. But I like Miss Lynnster. I get to spend time with Miss Lynnster. Miss Lynnster has a dog. Moreover, Miss Lynnster loves this dog. While I don't understand this love for an animal I sure do like Miss Lynnster, and Miss Lynnster is thoughtful and decent and rational and good-heart and level-headed, so MAYBE I OUGHT TO QUIT BEING SUCH A DICKHEADED BABY AND ENJOY HER COMPANY, MAYBE EVEN HER STORIES ABOUT HOW GREAT LA IS? Hmmm -- nah, too much bother..."

It's your business, for sure. I doubt I post this, but I might. I know that this little online community is only that, an online community, and this guy is flesh and blood (maybe). But you are known here, even if maybe only a little, and the overall consensus here is that you are okay and he is a mope.

I spent time in a relationship with a woman who had a cat that is absolutely a paranoid schizophrenic, it shit and pissed everywhere and acted like a complete psycho, because it was a complete psycho. I took care of this cat while she was out of town helping her mother with cancer treatments and then, horrifically, a broken leg; twice every day I'm getting clawed by a cat I can't stand as I give it anti-biotics. Maybe I'm stupid. Maybe I need to call your guy and get instructions on life and stuff.

I don't know how to end here. Maybe I just did.
posted by dancestoblue at 4:18 PM on July 22, 2008

You guys are cracking me up. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 4:34 PM on July 22, 2008

As a fellow my-dog-is-my-baby person, I would have D(ed)TMFA. I know there's more to it than that, but dude. My dog was here first, I love her more than most people would think is acceptable, but so what? I wouldn't have gotten through life nearly as happily without her, and if someone I was dating couldn't handle that... well... Then THEY would have to be the one to suffer, not her. I don't think you should punish (or whatever) your dog because some schmo doesn't think your dog is important.
posted by alpha_betty at 5:07 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

He even had us repeat our sentences after eachother on the topic the other day, as though I didn't already get it.

*choke* Whoah, you are so much more patient than I would be. This is the point where he would see my tail wagging out the door, never to return.

However, if you would like to continue the relationship, you should tell him A) No more discussions about this; you're free to feel as you wish, and so am I. We shall agree to disagree, and never speak of it again. And B) No more discussions about this. Guess what "C)" is. Yep, you got it.

If he wants to come visit you when you move, he needs to get his head straight about how that's going to work. He doesn't have to pet the dog or pay her any attention at all, but he's not allowed to harass you about your pet, and you're not going to hide her for X days. Unless this is made Very Clear beforehand, I forecast a miserable time for all of you.
posted by taz at 5:58 PM on July 22, 2008

I had a boyfriend like this who used this kind of talk to try to "sway" me to his way of thinking. It was more cats v. dogs, and later places to live and politics and religion. I came to realize that he had his own ideas and a plan. When I did not seem to go along with it, he was using talk like this to try to put me in my place-- that is, my place in his plans.

Dogs (and cats) do have personalities. To say they don't is utter nonsense.
You are also perfectly sane and justifiedin using nauseating "cat-and-baby" voice with the pup aaaaahwoojiwoojiwoojiWOOOO!
posted by oflinkey at 6:10 PM on July 22, 2008

I would be very wary of having any closer relation with someone who does not love pets. Seriously. This looks harmless on the surface. If he can't have plants AND keep them alive either, it gives more information about his person than you would find out by putting him under hypnosis for a couple of hours and find all of his dirty laundry via questionning him while under hypnosis. In general "dog is a responsibility", "I will never water my flowers more than once per week or two" is not something I would let pass unnoticed. People with no pets or plants are bad experience.
posted by Jurate at 6:18 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I dislike dogs. A lot.

I might pat one gingerly on the head, but that's it. I don't want them near me, I don't want them to touch me, and I really don't want them to lick me, ewwwww. The smell of them makes me nauseous. I can barely tolerate them at the best of times.

I nearly broke up with my now-husband until he grokked this, and learnt to keep his dog away from me. Said dog stayed with his parents when we got married - I simply could not live with one. He wasn't too worried about it, incidentally - nowhere near as attached as you are to your pet.

That said, I did not go on and on and on and on and on about it. That would be rude, inconsiderate, and really rather silly. He's being a jerk.
posted by ysabet at 6:19 PM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was also surprised to notice downstream that this was Miss Lynnster.

How do you stop it coming up?

Do you bring it up? Stop.
Does he bring it up? Ask him not to. Make the "or else..." clear.

As far as the discussions go, would it really matter what it's about? I mean, if you disagreed about politics or religion or horror films and he Just. Wouldn't. Stop. bringing up how great McCain is or how Baptist-ness is the one true faith or how Jason X is a terrible film, that would also be aggravating enough for a "Stop it now. SRSLY." talk.

You missed the part where I said that he hasn't even SEEN my dog in months, I've only been going to his place. Yet still talks about society judging him for not liking dogs and how he just doesn't get it.

I also think that this is just a symptom of a larger cultural disconnect he's feeling. It's unfortunate for him that he now lives in a society that, by and large, has some very different attitudes about pets, among other things. But he does, and he's here in this culture, and so he loses, just like you would lose if you moved to north Africa w/o a dog and tried, after you got there, to get a dog and convince everyone it was wonderful.

American pet ownership can feel like a slap in the face to people who not only don't like pet animals, but who come from countries where the money that you're spending on your pet could go a very long way to save or improve several people's lives.

I don't buy this as something reasonable. It might be reasonable to say feel slapped in the face by discarded food, or by more-cars-than-people households, or other arguably actually-wasteful items. Dogs just aren't expensive enough for this to be a reasonable complaint to have. That doesn't mean people don't have it, only that it's just a particular reflection of their larger dislike for dogs instead of a really reasonable moral argument.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:55 PM on July 22, 2008

Wow, I'm apparently blowing my reputation to shreds here. Whooops.

Yeah, I know this should be a deal-breaker but since he and I have no permanent "deal" and I'm moving away, I just figure it's not worth making a big deal over. I am attracted to him in other ways and want to keep in contact with him. For a LTR, I'll definitely seek out a dog-lover in the future (unless he changes, he has sealed his image as a poor long term prospect if he *does* decide he wants something serious), but I'm going to just stick to my boundaries regarding my dog in the meantime. No more of the "repeat after me" junk, I've heard him and he's heard me and... and...oh you guys should see this, my puppy's resting her head on my foot and it's sooooo cuttteeeeee! Awwwwwww! OhmyGod she's the bestest dog EVER!!!!

Oh, I'm sorry. I got distracted. What was I saying?
posted by miss lynnster at 7:23 PM on July 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

This doesn't sound like a good match. A guy who is neutral about dogs might be workable, but this guy sounds far from neutral.

And I can't believe Zambrano believes dogs don't have personalities. Very sad.
posted by knolan at 8:19 PM on July 22, 2008

ROU_Xenophobe for the win - although many people have posted eloquently about why this really isn't about actual dogs.

This relationship, however temporary, doesn't sound all that rewarding, particulary because he's being jerky about an otherwise perfectly reasonable trait - he doesn't like dogs, has cultural reasons for his attitude, you do, and have cultural reasons for yours.
If he's not willing to stop harping on dogs in absence of, oh, an actual dog annoying him, it's time to say adieu - same way if you couldn't get him to shut-up about how sweet Cheney would look in a red tutu with a butt plug. I mean, unless you like that sort of thing.

That being said, you definitely need to look to your own behavior as far as the anthropomorphizing and projecting. Given that he hasn't even seen your dog in months, and it's not even the real issue:

But I'm not going to hide her, and I can't always control that she wants to say hello to him... she's naturally affectionate (normally not a bad thing).

Yes, you can control that. She goes over to him - you distract her to you with a treat or a pat and have her go from sit to down beside you. If he just ignores her, she'll learn to ignore him. Now, while I'd not advocate her being crated for an entire visit, doing so for a short duration like a dinner wouldn't hurt the pup (as long as it is clear up front to him that it's only for dinner, say.) Being put in the crate for a time-out is not torture. Yes, she'll be unhappy, because she can't be right there with you! but her puppy soul is not being crushed. Especially not if she gets a Kong.
posted by canine epigram at 8:35 PM on July 22, 2008

>People with no pets or plants are bad experience.

Now that I hear how harshly some of you folks judge anyone who doesn't share your deep love for Fido and Rover, I'm starting to feel Mr. Boyfriend's point that Americans are kind of nutso when it comes to dogs.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:03 PM on July 22, 2008

ottereroticist, yeah... I'm surprised that I've become as understanding as I have been of his point as well. When I first met him I told my father he didn't like pets, and my dad immediately said, "Anyone who doesn't like pets, something's got to be wrong with them inside. Get rid of him." People are so cut and dried about the topic, when listening to him I find I can't exactly argue with him. He's right... people do immediately think it shows you're a horrible mean freak, which I don't necessarily think he is. He IS missing something but I don't think he's a bad person for that necessarily. I guess that's why I'm being semi-cool about it even though I totally disagree a millionfold. It doesn't mean I'm gonna change myself is all... I'm not.

By the way... during certain times in my life (like right now), I've been a serious plant killer. Even my bamboo plants are brown nowadays. I'm a brown thumb... but I swear I'm not a bad experience. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 10:25 PM on July 22, 2008

So I'm late to this party, but I gotta say something here:

miss l, why oh why are you putting up with this crap? And I don't mean him being a jerk, I mean the constant arguing about something neither of you is going to change their minds on, to the point you're just repeating the same thing over and over again. Even more so, you are putting up with it when you know (do you really, are you sure?) the relationship's not going to last.

Just guessing here, but is it the sex? Awesome, mid-blowing sex? No sex is worth it, IMO. In my experience, putting up with less-than-acceptable behaviour has made me look back on mind-blowing sex and... cringe. I can hardly remember the sex part, but believe me I can remember all the rest. Similarly, I find it hard remembering why I thought the guy was "a nice guy" despite whatever the point of disagreement was. I look back and I cringe at the thought I put up with it at all - and mind you, it was never anything worse or more fundamental than what you've got going on there. Of course, you're a different person and YMMV. But still.

In any case, I also can't keep plants alive unless they're cactuses, and I love my plump, happy kitties.
posted by neblina_matinal at 3:55 AM on July 25, 2008

Well folks, lemme tell you how the relationship with the dog hater has progressed. It's mighty surprising.

As with most relationships, once I got closer to moving away we started getting along much better. Funny how that works. Anyhow, last weekend I was moving the last of my stuff back to LA and he invited me to stay at his place while I was in the Bay area. I told him that if he wanted to see me, my dog was coming along and would have to stay in his apartment too so I could make other plans. I'm sure he was hesitant but said it was fine because he wanted to hang out with me.

For some reason, as I mentioned, my dog really likes this guy. I mean, she likes him way more than she likes my dog-loving mother. She really wants to make him happy. The first night we stayed at his place, he was all worried about her peeing and pooping on his carpet, but she just sat on her pillow and chewed a toy most of the time. She was actually really, really content in his place and every once in a while she would just start wagging her tail when he walked by and I'd laugh. He'd say, "What are you laughing at?" and I'd tell him it cracks me up how much unrequited love she has for him and that I really didn't get it. He said she probably was thinking she could convert him into a dog lover and that I probably talked her into it. I told him she wasn't that well trained.

The second night a shift started happening. I started catching him looking at the dog and laughing once in a while. To be honest, I figured maybe he was just laughing at me for owning her.

She just played with her toys peacefully unless we were giving her attention, I was shocked at how behaved she was... I had expected her to do *something* wrong. Bark or something. She didn't. Just sat there being happy. By the end of the second evening, we went out for drinks and he suddenly turned to me and said, "Do you realize how good your dog is being? I mean, she's being REALLY good." We left her in the car while we went into a bar and he kept asking if she'd be okay in there (suddenly her welfare mattered?). We went home and next thing I knew she was sitting in her lap, wagging her tail furiously while he spoke to her in businessman's japanese and she stared into his eyes. I was *speechless.* I honestly couldn't believe what I was seeing.

As I packed up to leave the next day he expressed concerned about where she was going to sit during the drive. I said, "You bonded with my dog yesterday" and he responded, "No I didn't. I hate dogs." Maybe her unconditional love for him made him feel good and gradually softened him up (especially once he saw that she wasn't destructive or bothersome at all)... all I can say is after knowing him a year and dealing with all of his lectures on the subject I really wasn't expecting it.

Moral of the story, I moved away so it's a long distance thing now but I'm getting the feeling that the least of our dealbreaking issues is my dog now. She worked her little wiener puppy love magic on the dog hater. I'm a bit in shock about it, actually. Go Zoe go.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:17 PM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, correction up above (I'm sure you got)... she was sitting in HIS lap as he spoke to her in Japanese. My dog was not sitting in her own lap. I have not yet taught her that trick.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:19 PM on August 18, 2008

For some reason, as I mentioned, my dog really likes this guy. I mean, she likes him way more than she likes my dog-loving mother.

Dog packs have not a single leader but both a female alpha and a male alpha. Since you are or were in a relationship with this guy, your dog thought of him as being her male alpha. This is why she was so desperate to make him happy---she wants approval from her alphas.

Your dog knows who your mom is, and while she can probably tell that mom is related to you, she also knows that your mom isn't alpha, so she doesn't need to be as concerned with making her happy. (Also, since your mom likes dogs to begin with, Zoe doesn't need to try as hard...)
posted by FlyingMonkey at 6:57 PM on January 27, 2009

« Older Lookin' for the national beer o' Texas   |   My iPod Is Suddenly Saying It Is Full Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.