Pet Issues | How Much is Too Much?

Reader’s Question:

I’ve been dating this girl for a few months and things are going well. She lives in New York City and I live in Miami, so we do travel often to see each other. Financially, I do better than her, so I pay for most of our accommodations. Recently, she has started asking to fly her three small dogs when she comes to see me in Miami. I think this is ridiculous. I have offered to pay for a kennel or a dog sitter when she is away, but she says she misses them and if she is ever going to relocate to Miami, these dogs would come with her. Last weekend she even brought the puppy to brunch. I will admit, I did not handle it right, and I kind of freaked out…which resulted in a major fight and her flying back home. Dogs are not people, they don’t need travel and brunch accommodations, especially at my expense. She is now refusing to come to Miami since I now “hate the dogs she loves so much.” Am I wrong to not want to pay for the dogs or allow them to come to our meal dates?

Well, this is fun. The simple answer is no, you are not wrong, but neither is she, to a point.

Pet people are very interesting to me, but in the end, this is not so different from a lot of quirks you find others have once a relationship begins to get real.

Some folks like to bring their pet with them on every adventure…not just dog walks and beach runs, but also Sunday Brunch on the patio at their favorite restaurant, and trips to Paris because they truly love the animal. I’ve seen place settings at the table for the dogs, purses for the cats, and EVEN a diamond studded wall decoration surrounding the tank of Gucci the Goldfish. Others let their dogs sleep outside and treat them as more of a …well…pet. 

However you see fit is your preference, and the two of you are clearly not on the same page. 

Do you love this gal? Does the relationship mean enough for you to overlook this? Can you at least get past it and accept what it is? What bothers you the most about the situation?

Is it the money you’re spending to accommodate the dogs or the principal behind it? 

Major resentment can build over this if you are not honest here and now. If you have only invested a few months into the relationship and this is something that you feel very strongly about – likes it’s a deal breaker- then maybe it is time to move on. She clearly loves her dogs as she would a child, or a friend, and does not want to part with them.

You should decide what you are comfortable with and draw a line.

I suggest you get your thoughts in order and make a list. Actually write it down. Show her that you have put time and effort into this matter because you care for her and this relationship. Explain to her what you have decided you are comfortable with and what you simply cannot tolerate, or will not do. Don’t forget she may naturally gravitate more towards your style (i.e. not taking the dogs everywhere) and away from her dogs as your relationship progresses. 

Perhaps the dogs don’t come to brunch at a restaurant (when you are around!), but you plan outings that are intended to be shared with her pooches. Or, maybe they only fly to Miami for special occasions like holidays. If she wants her dogs to make the trip often, she will need to pay their way.

This is also a good time to make sure you will be able to tolerate the dogs if she (and them) relocates to Miami. Assuming you get past the current problem and you two move forward with this relationship.

If the dogs are a no go for you because of their level of involvement, she deserves to know at this point. Put the pet issues on the table now so that you both have a clear understanding moving forward.

Be reasonable. Be honest. Be respectful. Communicate calmly.

If you can do those things, you can work out a compromise on the dogs. If not, at least you know now.

Good luck!

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