Dear Wayne and Wanda,
Earlier this spring when we were all “hunkered down,” my live-in girlfriend bought a dog. We didn’t discuss it in advance and in fact in the past when we talked about getting a dog, I was very against it for several reasons. One, in normal times, we travel a lot. Second, we both have pretty demanding jobs and can work long days. Finally, I’m just not really a dog guy. I think they’re a lot of work, they’re messy, I don’t like having to pick up their poop or worry about big vet bills.
I’m irritated that she just went out and got one without telling me. She said she was lonely because of us having to stay home and thought a dog would keep us company.
We’ve had a few arguments about it. I can deal with the dog, but I’m mainly annoyed she did this without telling me, knowing how I felt. Also, while things aren’t normal yet, I think they will be soon enough. I’m sure we’ll both eventually be back in our offices full time and I can’t wait to go back to traveling. What do we do about the dog then?
Ugh, I guess I’m just frustrated and would accept any and all advice. Thanks.
Adopting a pet is a huge decision, especially if you’re committed to being an attentive and responsible pet owner. As you touched on, there are emotional, logistical and financial considerations. Surprising a partner with a pet is nothing new, and can be a charming and thoughtful gift in cases where both are open to and even excited about adding a four-legged friend to the family.
Because you had explained your position, it’s a little off-putting that your partner went ahead and brought a pup home anyway, and your annoyance is understandable. That said, if she took the risk of circumventing your previously stated preference, she must have needed this dog pretty bad.
Pet adoptions have boomed during COVID-19 as many of us are spending more time at home than we ever imagined and feel contained, isolated, anxious, even bored. Adding a pet to the mix can bring joy to your relationship. It can serve as an entertaining distraction and even inject activity into your day — like taking walks, visiting the park, or tossing the squeaky ball around. And having a little companion can add structure and responsibility to your lifestyle that’s ultimately grounding and can provide peace of mind.
So instead of dwelling and stewing on your own irritation, consider your partner’s well-being and needs. Look for the positives in what’s now a permanent change in your residential reality.
First off, these column inches are a No Slander Zone for Dogs. You didn’t cross the line, but you were creeping toward it.
Second, unless your dog is a total handful and/or complete jerk (which is usually a reflection of its owners, btw), you will have no trouble finding willing dogsitters and professional kennels which will care for your dog while you to travel without a care and get a nice break from picking up poop and tossing the ball until your shoulder falls off. And you’ve probably already learned that with some consistent routine and discipline, dogs will fit their way into your life, instead of just you adjusting your life for them.
Finally, this really isn’t about the dog anyway. In fact, you repeated that it isn’t about the dog. It’s about your girlfriend, who made a rushed, emotional and significant lifestyle decision without you, which is totally lame and hopefully not a trend in a long-term relationship. Stop being frustrated with the dog and stop arguing with your girlfriend about it. Your point has been made and the dog is clearly here to stay. Are you? Is the dog decision a deal-breaker? If so, grab your treats and toys and start barking up some other trees. Otherwise, accept that this is your life now and that hopefully there’s better communication with your GF ahead as you mush along through life.
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