I was always a cat person. Had them all the time growing up. In university, it didn’t feel like home until I got a kitten my first year.
That kitten, given a Hawaiian name to remind me of an amazing vacation there, was still with me when I met my ex-husband Will.
He was a dog person.
I should have known it wouldn’t work out. He tolerated my cat and on occasion would admit that he was fond of her. Then she got sick – and sicker – and within a few weeks it was that awful moment of making a decision to end her life to prevent her ongoing suffering.
48 hours later, Will says “so can we get a dog now?”
Yeah; he wasn’t always known for his tact.
Of course we did. A fun, bouncy, barky, terrier puppy. He was Will’s dog, yet as the household manager, I was the one coordinating the dog walker and grooming appointments and taking him for a walk at night.
I didn’t really want a dog. They are great companions but you can’t leave them alone with food and water for three days like you can with cats.
So although I loved my dog, when Will and I split up I didn’t want to have joint custody of the dog, too. Never mind that I’m in a 2-story townhouse condo with no backyard, I just didn’t want the added burden of taking care of the dog as well. I liked the idea of freedoms of all kinds.
I don’t miss him. Say what you want, but I don’t. I like seeing him the occasional times I’m in my old house, but it’s like spending time with a child of a friend: you can give them back and you kind of like it. I dog sat on a couple of occasions, but eventually Will stopped asking me…he turned to his girlfriend Colleen instead.
On a rare occasion I long for a Cat companion, but right now, I’m trying to keep my life as simple as possible. The only living thing I bought for my balcony was a pot of basil. Before, I would have bought pots and plants and then spent a lot of time dealing with them. Now I know what kind of time I have, and where I want to spend those precious minutes (hint: it’s not pruning).
So…fast forward to him leaving for his job in a different country. I didn’t ask what he was going to do with the dog.
Turns out, he just assumed I would take him. I explained that I wasn’t going to to that. I have no backyard. I’m about to be a single parent with a job that requires travel. I am not going to outsource all of the care of an animal to a dog walker and a nanny (as Will did, it should be noted).
I politely inquired why his family or his year-long girlfriend couldn’t step in. Oh, that’s right, his family are all a bunch of selfish assholes too. Ahem – sorry about that – lost my shit for a moment. I also suggested since he was moving to a different country all by himself that perhaps he should take the dog with him. He tells me he is travelling in his role so that will be a challenge.
I did not solve his problem for him, even when he got all dramatic and implied that my not taking him would mean he’d have to give (our son’s) dog away or put him down.
The nice thing about being divorced now is that I don’t have to live with the histrionics. I know his manipulations and choose to not engage.
So that’s what I did. I didn’t make it my problem – didn’t take it on to solve or bail him out as I would always have done in the past. This is his fucking decision and he has to deal with the fucking consequences. I’m the one dealing every day with our son who is sad and angry. I am hardly “not being a partner in this”, as he accused me one day where I dared tell him his relationship with his son will never be the same.
So. Colleen takes the dog. The dog walker goes to her house every day to take him out. It’s not an easy transition for any of them. Although it should be noted that my son has never mentioned missing his dog or asked if he can stay with us.
One day I guess the dog acted out in some way, and Colleen got frustrated and told Will, who then emailed me and asked if I would take the dog.
I said I would think about it – but I really have no intention of doing so. Sure, if he’s about to give him to the pound – that would be different. But he’s hardly at that point.