Should I Get A Dog For My Kids, Even Though I Don’t Want One?

No, not me: I already have a dog. See?

Roxie: The World's Hungriest BeagleA friend of mine, however, does not. She recently posed that question on Facebook. It happens to be a subject about which I am extremely passionate.

The short answer? NO, you shouldn’t.

The longer answer? Ugh, where shall I begin?

This friend listed two main reasons for not wanting a dog: her child’s allergies (which can be overcome by getting a hypo-allergenic dog) and her knowing that she would be the one cleaning up the messes (which cannot be overcome for a while, if the kids are younger, and sometimes not at all).

In my opinion, her second concern is the overriding issue. When the adult who would be the primary caretaker of any animal does not want the responsibility of the animal, no amount–NO AMOUNT–of begging or rationalizing from the children (who aren’t in charge) or the spouse should sway the desire of that person. More often than not, it backfires. In cases that I know of where the primary caretaker (mostly the mom!) of the animal was talked into it–or worn down over time, as it often happens–there’s a honeymoon period, and then everything goes down the tubes. It’s not fair to anyone when that happens. Kids, younger ones especially, don’t have the maturity or brain capacity to understand the realities of long-term pet ownership and the responsibilities that come with it. It’s the parents’ job to teach them about things like that, by sometimes making these tough calls.

What’s the worst that could happen if you give in to a request for a dog when you don’t want one? Well, I can’t say I know what the worst thing would be (though my imagination runs wild when I think about it), but I do have a cautionary tale.

A long time ago I was friends with someone who had a very different parenting style from me. She was the total opposite of me, really: she was extremely permissive and the kids ran her household. Yikes.

Her daughter, who was around ten at the time, was positively begging for a dog. BEGGING. (no pun intended, but hey: it works!) My friend kept hemming and hawing over the issue, and I highly recommended that she not give in. Naturally, the ten-year-old daughter wore my friend down and they purchased a positively adorable puppy (a mini Schnoodle) from a breeder. The puppy housetrained very quickly, and was very smart. (I loved that dog.) There was still, of course, lots to be done: feeding, walking, playing, and all of the other normal things one would do with a puppy.

At the time, I used to “borrow” the dog for afternoon visits quite often, because my own dog (Bijoux, my late, great beagle) was in the last year of her life, and having the puppy over actually seemed to make her happy. See? Matching neckerchiefs, even.

Bijoux MinnieAs I predicted, the honeymoon phase ended for my friend’s daughter, and after a while she didn’t even acknowledge the dog when she came home from school. My friend, of course, grew very weary of being the only one that took care of the dog 24/7. She started talking about getting rid of the dog. I was horrified. At her request, I helped her find a new home for her puppy. A guy who worked at the health club with me, along with his girlfriend, fell in love with the dog the second they laid eyes on her, and they took her in and were very happy. They ended up being the perfect family for her, and I was so glad.

The night before my co-worker took the dog home, I told my boys what was going on and that we probably wouldn’t be seeing her again. They asked me lots of questions about why my friend didn’t want the dog anymore, and I was truthful about it.

My friend told me that she was going to tell her kids that the dog ran away.

I’ll let you absorb that for a moment.

She was going to tell her kids that the dog ran away so she wouldn’t have to, what, tell them that she made a mistake? So that she could pretend that she never signed on for about 13-15 years of responsibility for an animal that depended on her?

I was furious. I told her that of course she could tell her kids whatever she wanted because they were her kids, but that I had already told my kids, who spent lots of time with her kids, the truth and that we would not be lying to her children on her behalf.

She ended up telling her kids the truth. I believe it’s because she knew she didn’t really have a choice due to my decision to be truthful.

So there you have it. It doesn’t always end that way, thank goodness, but this is just one example of why everyone in the house needs to be on board when it comes to new pets.



  • Heather

    ARE YOU SERIOUS?! She was going to tell her kids that the dog ran AWAY?! I can’t even. I mean, I just can’t.

    I am pretty passionate on this subject because our dogs in our house are well, our kids. I could never imagine adopting a child and then just deciding, “Oh, well this is too much work, guess I’ll give it away.” That to me, is LAZY, among other choice phrases in my head. Pets are like people and they have feelings and emotions too. They act out when they are mad or sad, they bark and wag their tails when they are happy. Could you imagine being shuffled house to house like that? How unfair.

    I do believe there are certain circumstances where the dog may have to find a new home, but finding the dog a new home because you’ve grown bored of the dog is not an acceptable circumstance in my opinion.


  • Headless Mom

    Oh, I agree with you 100%. Luckily, as much as my husband would like to have a dog he also knows that I’m the one that would end up taking care of it and I just don’t want to. Plain and Simple. So there will be no dogs in this house in the immediate future.

    Thanks for reinforcing my position!

    PS- Ditto what Heather said. Um, lying to the kids? Wrong on so many levels.

  • Chantelle @ Mom Went Crazy

    Mom’s do all the work. Bottom line, she just can’t get a dog she doesn’t want. Good call on that one.
    I’ve been secretly hoping my cat will run away.
    Damn thing sticks around.
    Lying to your kids isn’t the WORST thing, calm down ladies.
    It’s not the most appropriate of situations, but she just wanted to avoid the fight. I can understand where it comes from. I disagree with her choices, but I get it.

  • Karen the Microblogologist

    Obviously the woman was an idiot to buy the dog for her daughter in the first place but I think she did the right thing in giving it away to people who actually wanted it. Better for the dog to be with people who care about it than with a family who ignore and/or resent it. I am glad she was forced to tell the truth to her kids, had she told them the lie they would probably be upset and worry that something horrible happened to her, I imagine that would be a lot more traumatizing than giving the dog to a loving home where she would be cared for.

    Seriously, comparing dogs and children is rather ridiculous, I don’t care how much someone loves their animals there is a huge difference between an animal and a human being. Yes dogs have emotions and such but their brain isn’t even close to being developed enough to have the same capacity as that of a human. I firmly believe people need to take responsibility for their pets and that owning a pet is a commitment but in this case no one truly committed to that poor puppy and that is way less fair to her than having to adapt to a new home. Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to have animals (and in many cases kids), that lady in my opinion is one of them.

  • Jenn @ Frugal Upstate

    I think you are so right. If you don’t want the dog and are going to wind up the primary caretaker, you will be resentful and the poor animal (who had no choice in the matter) will be the one who feels it. (note: I’m not saying anyone would abuse the dog, just that they will know that you are constantly aggravated with them)

  • kyooty

    Oh my! I had a friend call me yesterday offering me a puppy for 50.00 that another friend of hers was selling. (Mommy dog got knocked up in the back yard?) really? for 50.00? Anyways, I said “no” because Dogs Poop! and it doesn’t go in litterboxes like cats. My cat took a lot of getting used to and she’s only here because my husband wanted a RAT? I took one look at that rat tail in the petshop and said “oh Free homeless kitty, here!” 🙂 He does look after her and I don’t. Win win.

  • Colleen - Mommy Always Wins

    I completely agree! My hubby simply showed up with a dog one night, giving me no real option regarding her care. I still take care of her because obviously it needs to be done, but I know it would be better if my boys saw someone who really loved and was excited to play with our dog…

  • Tara R.

    A pet is a huge responsibility. If the whole family isn’t willing to take on that job, it’s not fair to dump it on one person.

    All our pets are all well loved, but it most often falls on me to do the dirty work. Alas….

  • Meagan @ The Happiest Mom

    I think lying to the kids would be the absolute wrong thing to do (can you imagine how bad the kids would feel about their poor, lost dog? That’s the kind of thing I never would have gotten over as a child!)

    BUT, I can’t come down on this mom for giving the dog away, particularly since she found it such a perfect family. I mean, isn’t that the best possible resolution to this kind of situation? It’s not like she just left it on the side of the road.

    I can empathize with this mom–we got a dog a year ago, and though I was in on the plan, and my oldest son still does a majority of her care, I was really surprised by how much work she is. Mostly it’s the counter- and table-surfing that gets to me–I don’t mind walking her, letting her out, and all that, but she is completely shameless about stealing food from the kids which has led to some, uh, frustrating moments.

    Sometimes things don’t work out the way you really thought or hoped they would, and it’s not always a matter of being lazy or stupid. I knew that raising a dog would be work, but not ever having had kids and a dog at the same time, I didn’t really understand the full extent until she was here. I’m not tempted to get rid of her or anything, but if nobody was helping me? I can see it. Especially if some fantastic family showed up begging for her. In fact, after watching our dog (a beagle-pointer mix) catch and decapitate birds mid-air in our backyard, I’ve thought several times that she’d probably be a lot happier living out in the country. I frankly don’t think she’d miss us that much if she could run around eating squirrels all day. But we adopted her from a shelter, so we couldn’t pass her on to another family even if we wanted to.

    • Melisa

      Oh, I’m with you Meagan. I think my frustration with her getting the dog in the first place overshadowed that in my post: I knew her so well and knew 100% that she shouldn’t have gotten the dog in the first place. But yes, the dog ended up with the perfect family. I know that all situations similar to this don’t end up as this one did; it was just meant as a cautionary tale. (It still burns me up, obviously. 😉 )

  • Patty

    Very well said! As much as they are a bundle of love they are 10 times more work. I love my dog but its true he did not move out with me when I left my parents house. He remained there at their request and he’s a lot of work for two 70 years olds but they love him and I visit a lot to help out with him. He’s it though. No more dogs for me until I have kids and can commit to 15 years of being a doggie mom again.

  • francesca

    I am the mother of 3 children,with only my youngest child left at home. My daughter is 16 years old and has some emotional problems, for which she sees a therapist for depression. Her father is bipolar, which was one reason our marriage did not last. My ex-husband called me a few months before my daughter’s 15th birthday to tell me “the only thing Amy wanted for her birthday was a beagle puppy.” Amy also let me know that she really wanted a dog. I immediately and passionately said “No,” for several reasons: First, I am a nurse who works long hours (sometimes from 5 am until 10 pm) and I knew that I could not handle a dog. Second, I suffer from Crohns’ disease (I was diagnosed at age 10) and I am often very tired because of my low hemoglobin. Third, I am fairly particular about having my home clean and orderly. Also, beagles have a naturally unpleasant smell above and beyond the normal dog smell; it is truly awful. They also have a very annoying howl and at times, will bark almost constantly. Fourth, I know that dogs really do need to have regular training and attention, and that I would not be able to do this because of my work schedule. I even tried to find another job with better hours without success because the job market in this area is very poor. Fifth, Amy is in 11th grade and will leave for college in just a oouple of years. I will finally be free to travel, yet now I will be trapped at home to take care of a dog I never even wanted in the first place!! Finally, I am very aware that kids often beg for a pet and then the adult ends up taking care of the pet-and keep in mind that this was my THIRD child, so I was already familiar with how this usually goes. And without another adult in the house-a partner- I knew that this would fall on me and I did not want any more responsibilities and complications in my life. Although I kept saying “No,” both my ex and my daughter continued to beg for the dog. After about 6 months of very stressful arguing,I finally gave in when my daughter said “Mom, when I am alone in the evenings until you get home from work, I am afraid to be alone. A dog would keep me from being lonely and afraid.” Unfortunately, I gave in! I am so sorry that I finally agreed to having a dog. I wanted to be proven wrong, but instead, everything I thought would happen DID happen! The beagle puppy (named “Luke”) was adorable, and Amy took care of him for about a month…then she gradually started doing things like going home with a friend after school instead of coming directly home to take care of her dog. We kept the puppy in a small mud room next to the kitchen, with a baby gate across the entrance and a second baby gate over the first because we found that the dog could jump over the one gate.
    This dog has ruined our carpets to the point that I could not get the smell of urine and poop out of them despite shampooing the carpet myself and then hiring a professional. I ended up spending $1600 on new carpets. He also chewed just about any wooden furniture in the house. We actually left the back mud room door open in the nice weather so that Luke could have a beautiful shady back yard to run in while we were at work/school. I had to spend another $300.00 to reinforce the fence because the dog was able to get out! Many pairs of shoes and books were destroyed by Luke; if I left my bedroom door open for even ONE MINUTE he would grab a pair and chew them up. As for my books, Luke would simply take them off the bookshelf and chew the books to smithereens!!! I finally asked my ex (who is an avid dog lover) to take Luke, since he lives in the mountains and has plenty of room for another dog; he laughed and said “I don’t want that dog!”. When we went on vacation to see relatives in Italy, my ex refused-AT THE LAST MINUTE-to take the dog as he had promised!! I tried over and over to have a talk with my daughter about these problems; she was resentful that I could not be more helpful; and I was angry that she was neglecting her dog responsibilities; we argued and fought for a year and a half…
    I finally woke up one day and decided that I could not stand one more day of this! A close friend at work wanted the dog. I spoke with my daughter about how upset I was about this situation, and told her that I had a great new home for the dog. She cried and begged to keep the dog, promising to do a better job. (it only got better for about a week). I finally simply took to dog to my co-worker’s home-and told my daughter that Luke had escaped fro the backyard again. I thought this was the perfect solution because my friend fell in love with Luke. She came home every day and took the dog to the park. She would bring Luke to her mother’s when she had to work so that he wouldn’t be locked up in a crate for 8 hours a day. Needless to say, Amy was very upset and stapled “lost dog”posters to all the telephone poles in the neighborhood. She called the SPCA a couple of times to see if they had found a beagle. She asked her friends to help her to look for Luke.
    To be honest, I was very relieved that the dog was gone. I had my carpets and sofa professionally cleaned, and threw out all the chewed, ruined items in the house. I was ready for a fresh start! I could leave my bedroom door open! I no longer stepped in dog crap while I was hanging clothes out on the clothesline!! Life was good; until a month later, when the dog escaped from my friend’s back yard. A woman found Luke and read the information on Luke’s dog tag, then called my daughter on Amy’s cell phonel Amy was overjoyed-and I was horrified!! I called my friend and gave her the woman’s phone number; she was able to get Luke back. She then spent over $200 to reinforce her back yard fencing. Naturally, my daughter kept calling the woman who found Luke, and when Amy called her the last time, the woman replied “Someone picked up your dog. I don’t have him anymore!” My daughter realized that things didn’t add up; the dog DID NOT run away.
    This is the point where my daughter became hysterical. She was screaming and crying and begging me to tell her the truth about the dog. When I finally told her that I had found a good home for Luke, she began throwing and breaking things while threatening to kill herself . She even claimed that the dog was the reason that her grades had improved so much- she was now on the Honor Roll-was because she had Luke. I ended up calling my friend and taking the dog back home. Amy was overjoyed to have Luke back after he went missing for 4 weeks. I am so upset and afraid that everything will go back to the way it was-I even wrote up a contract regarding my expectations for Jamie and her taking care of the dog. ( just completed it earlier today and will give it to Jamie later on today.
    Sorry for the length-I really had to vent!!! If anyone has any suggestions, I would appreciate it!

    • Melisa

      My gosh, Francesca: what an ordeal you’ve been through! I am sorry that things haven’t worked out with Luke, especially because he’s a beagle. I am pretty sure you found my blog because of a search and have no idea that my dog is a beagle and I have a soft spot for that breed. (By the way, I’ve had two beagles and they never had any kind of foul odor at all except for the times they rolled in something smelly outside!) They DO need lots of exercise in order to get their energy out and behave, and beagles don’t do well when in a crate for 8 hours. Unfortunately I anticipate that this isn’t going to end well as far as your daughter taking care of him, contract or not. (I HOPE it does, though!)

      I think if your daughter violates whatever terms you have written on the contract AND if your friend still wants Luke, you should place him with your friend permanently. Your friend may not want to open herself up to having him again though, for fear you’ll want him back. I imagine that, since she was walking him regularly and cared enough to take him to her mother’s so he could have human interaction while she was working, she became very attached to him herself, and it probably hurt her very much to give him back to you, even if she said it was fine. As a dog lover myself, I would be very, very upset to fall in love with a dog and then be asked to give it back.

      I really, really hope that this works out, for all of you: especially Luke!

  • Dea

    I’ll chime in!! I hated dogs. LOATHED them. I was a cat lover from way back, and could NOT stand the slobber, the clingyness, etc etc etc. Not to mention, I did NOT want to clean up the poop. I also didn’t have clue one on how to train a dog.

    We got a dog because my husband talked me into it. She was part German Shepherd, because that was what he had as a kid. She was a year old rescue from the pound. And she snapped at my 2 year old. I made him take her back. I HATED that dog. I kept her locked in her kennel because she refused to potty train, and would snap and growl at me, men who visited us, and then the last straw – our child. Off she went. I hadn’t wanted her, so it was a train wreck from day one. I never fell for her eyes, etc.

    Today, I am a proud owner of a labrador retriever. His name is Butters, and he’s one of my best friends. I came to a place where I just felt it was ME who wanted that puppy. I informed my kids AND my husband that, although they could help, this was MY dog, since I’m the one who is home with him all day. I’m the one home when my husband travels. So I had to be pack leader. I researched for months. I picked a breed I knew I liked, and knew were submissive, good with kids, and intelligent. I chose to get a young puppy, since I KNEW I was not ready to rehabilitate a rescue. *I* wanted him. This is why it worked. We all love him, he’s part of the family, but does know his place in it (last in line for being in charge, of course). And because *I* wanted him, he respects me, and behaves properly.

    Animals KNOW. they know if a person doesn’t want them. They know if a person is weak willed, or will spoil the heck out of them. Dogs are work. But I chose that. And THAT is why you should never, EVER get a dog “for the kids” or “because my significant other wants one.”

    And for the record – I still don’t like all dogs. I avoid certain dog parks because of obnoxious, jerky dogs. But I love my Butters. 🙂

    • Dea

      OH – and since I forgot, NO WAY should you lie to kids. They’re far smarter than we are, and a thousand times more perceptive. And once you lie, especially to a teenager, or a kid with emotional problems or sensitivity(I have one, trust me, I know), you make their issues worse by breaking trust.

  • Jill Kapson

    Our granddaughter begged and begged for a dog. My son in law promised her he’d get her a dog when she was 6. Well, one week before her seventh birthday, they got a dog. It was a rescue puppy who, by the way, looked like he was part beagle. In about ONE week or so, my son in law had the dog house trained. The dog slept in a crate in the master bedroom. He LOVED his crate. For a couple weeks. Then he started barking at night. So they moved the crate into the 7 year old’s room. She said “It’s ok grandma. When he wakes me up in the middle of the night barking, I just tell him ‘No Bark Rigby!’ and he stops. Then I go back to sleep.” Ugh! This is just what a growing girl needs – interrupted sleep! Mind you, they also have a 1 yr. old toddler in the house. Puppies have a lot of energy, and this little guy was all over the other little guy. So they put up a gate to keep him from jumping all over the 1 yr. old. The dog would stand with his front paws on the gate and bark at them to be included. Then the dog started having “accidents” in the house. So in addition to changing diapers and caring for a 7 yr. old and 1 yr. old and going back to school for a nursing degree, my step daughter was cleaning up after the dog, inside the house and out. She tried putting him out in the yard to run around, but if he was alone out there, he’d just bark to come inside. She’d end up letting him in because she didn’t want her neighbors to have to listen to him barking all the time. She got so exhausted and fed up with the dog, that she’d end up putting him in the crate just to get a break. And he’d bark and bark and bark. And she felt terrible. They started talking about all the work it was to have the dog. They started talking about getting rid of him. They prepared their daughter. They ended up putting the dog on a flight to Arizona and he now lives with one of their best friends who regularly sends my granddaughter pictures of him so she can see how healthy and happy he is in his new home. So, the moral of the story (and all the other stories here) is DO NOT GET A DOG UNLESS THE MOM WANTS IT AND IS WILLING TO DO 100% OF THE CARE.

  • francesca

    Here is an update about my daughter and her beagle, Luke. Amy WAS better with Luke after we got him back from my co-worker/friend. Unfortunately, that only lasted about a week, and the dog now spends most of his time in the crate or lying on the floor outside my daughter’s bedroom door (while she is inside her bedroom alone or with friends). When I confront her about all of this, she says “I AM taking care of him-I just don’t want him in my room because he gets into things and walks around to much.” Ironically, the dog’s behavior was much improved after spending 4 weeks with someone who really was happy to have him AND devoted who time in training him properly. But everyone who said I was wrong to lie is correct, so I can’t give the dog away to a better home and certainly I can’t lie and say he ran away again, so here he stays…my daughter’s psychiatrist says it would not be a good idea to give away Luke. He did talk to Amy about what it means to be a dog owner but honestly, she just pretended to listen to him… Meanwhile, I am still working long hours in order to pay bills, so my daughter is the only one home with the dog.
    This whole thing is such a shame: PLEASE, NEVER INSIST ON GETTING A DOG FOR ANYONE unless THE PERSON WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHILDREN SAYS YES. If my hours were much less and/or I had a partner, I may have even honestly wanted the dog! But things are the way they are; there is nothing I can do now except hope that my daughter grows and matures to the point that either she will decide to take care of Luke OR she will recognize that it would be much less selfish to give Luke to someone who has more free time and is willing to invest a lot of time to take care of Luke.

  • tracey - justanothermommy

    Wow, Francesca. I am so sorry you are having such a rough time with the entire situation. I hope things improve for you guys…

    Melisa, as you may know, we are getting a dog soon! As someone above said, we are getting one because *I* want it; not because the kids have been begging or my husband has always wanted one. I am ready for the responsibility and really want a dog to cuddle and love on since the kids aren’t too keen on me following them around, hugging them all the time. Can’t wait till the Christmas stuff is gone so we can finally get the dog wheels in motion!

    • Melisa

      I’m so excited for you Tracey: congrats! Can’t wait to see pics when you bring your little furball home. 🙂

  • sandra

    I have fell into the trap everyone say’s DON’T to, I wished I had read these blogs first, I am a grandmother of a girl who’s now 14years old when she was 11years and started secondary school we all went through a really bad time because she went into a low way the Drs called it school refusal and is common in some children moving from a small village school to larger city school, my daughter moved her to a smaller secondary school and things got a lot better although she found it difficult to make friends, From 12 years old she started to go on about having dog so she could walk it and take care of it and it would be her friend, we all said NO then her mam asked me if she got one would i keep it until their extension on the house was finished i agreed and said as long as it was short term , the dog is still here she’s trained clever and loves all the grandchildren when they come but my husband isn’t an animal lover and it causes conflict, he isn’t well now and i have crohnes and fibromyalgia and finding caring for a dog hard, my daughter knows this and feels stressed herself because no her husband said he wont have it .I feel torn because i love animals and like them cared for properly and to say ill find her a good home kills me because of the hurt to the dog my granddaughter and daughter. Can anyone advise .

    • Melisa

      Gosh Sandra, I’m so sorry. 🙁
      In my opinion, you have to do what’s best for you and your husband. If the dog is causing conflict AND there are health issues that are making it difficult for you to care for your daughter’s/granddaughter’s dog (and it seems pretty clear that she won’t be taking the dog anytime soon because of her husband), you really need to find another home for it. Is there a neighborhood friend who might be looking for a dog? That way everybody could still occasionally see the dog if it’s okay with the new owner. Your granddaughter and daughter have to understand that this arrangement isn’t working for you, and the hurt will hopefully be short-term. One thing I know for sure is that the longer you wait, the harder it’s going to be for everybody. The fact that the dog is trained AND good with children should make it fairly easy to find a new home for it. If you can personally find that new home, it may help your sadness over saying goodbye to the dog because you’ll feel good about another family (who really, really wants the dog and can take care of it!) finding their new pet. Good luck to you!!!

  • John B

    I may be the only guy on this post. I do have a question and I would appreciate the female perspective on our situation. Guys can be very cut and dry, so, knowing that, I’ll listen. About 19 months ago we were given a male Rough Collie pup by our best friends. They breed them and have produced many absolutely gorgeous dogs over the years. Our 15 year old son (IMHO 15 years old is old enough to know what you’re saying) also literally begged us to get one and stated “Dad, I PROMISE I’ll take care of him and I won’t complain about it…” After a few months of his pleading, our friends called and had several litters of pups and gave us a choice of many, many pups. (Darn, they’re cute little puppies!) Well, our dog is a very sweet dog, he’s extremely smart, coachable, and largely obedient. He does, however, LOVE to run and visit any moving creature he sees. I know that is not a good habit but it’s in his nature to herd things and I hate always having him on a leash. Bottom line, for many, many reasons I did not want a dog. I was recovering from a heart-attack, and just didn’t need or want the responsibility of an animal which I now have, like it or not. I was assured I wouldn’t be on the hook for taking care of him.

    Well, fast forward 18 months and I indeed AM the primary care giver of him, the very thing I was PROMISED by both my son and lovely wife that I would not be. My son now has basically stated he’s the “family’s dog and everyone should take care of him.” He won’t walk him, pick up after him, train him, feed him, etc. I find myself resenting this whole situation immensely.

    Do I make an ultimatum and basically state his time is up? Take care of him or lose him? I have stated my viewpoint and am now considered a “jerk” for even thinking about giving him away. Do I just put up with the dog for the next 10-12 years?

    • Melisa

      Hi John,
      I’m sorry about the situation you’re in! That’s a tough one. I agree with you that fifteen years old is old enough to know what’s being said/promised, and it’s a shame that your son isn’t holding up his end of the deal–especially with you recovering from a heart attack. (I wonder the same with your wife but I don’t know–and don’t need to know!–any details behind that.) Let me “call in the troops” and see if I can get some others to weigh in on the situation for you. My first instinct would be to get an invisible fence if you can’t/don’t like to put him on a leash. That way if he’s outside in your yard you don’t have to worry that he’ll run.

      Let me see if I can get some others to come and read, and comment!

      • Mary elizabeth

        I think you should be firm and true to yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of anyone else, either human or animal.
        I was left to care for dogs three times. My husband was in the Army, but he thought every family should have a dog. (His mother never worked, stayed home, loved dogs, trained them and they lived in the house). I was a teacher/ school administrator. My relaxation was gardening (plants don’t talk back or have an attitude!) the dogs always dug up my garden/ landscaping. I was so frustrated. I begged my husband not to get any dogs, but when we relocated to another duty station, he would get another dog! One was in Germany. It took a full year to get it in from Checkeslovokia! But, neither my husband or my son EVER walked, cleaned up, fed, bathed or took these animals to a Vet. I only did all those things because I wanted to be humane. However, my quality of life was reduced to a home with dog messiness, a yard with big holes; nothing worked well for any of us. He left that dog in Germany. He got a boxer when we came back to Texas. Finally I had enough. I gave the boxer and his terrier pal to a farmer with kids rat attended my school. My son is still angry at me for giving the dogs away. However, I gained my self-respect back, and have found many,many hours of joy from gardening. My landscaping, flower gardens and outdoor elements bring me great comfort. I think my choice was the only one for my mental health. I hope my son understands this some day.

    • Dea

      I’m a self-professed “mean mom.” I would give the ultimatum. In fact, I DID give one, and that dog went away, back where she came from. We now have a different dog, one *I* wanted and trained and for which I took responsibility.

      So yes, I would indeed give the ultimatum. I would say that this was something you were promised. My son has promised me he wants to play the marimba. His job is to practice each day. If he doesn’t, he knows said marimba will be sold. Those things aren’t cheap. And he’s only 10. And he practices. He also does every one of his chores – because if he doesn’t, I will get rid of something. He wants contact lenses and a cat – I’ve told him he has to do certain things to prove he’s responsible enough to have either one. So far, no contacts, no cat. And if he got either, and then dropped the ball, I’d get rid of what he dropped the ball on. I guess, though, I’m not very sentimental about things when I’m promised one thing, and that promise gets broken.

      I’ll be your jerk buddy. 😉

      • JohnB


        Thank you for your replies, I truly do appreciate them very much. I realize this post wasn’t intended to be a Dr Phil(ette?) session so I really do appreciate your input a lot.

        My wife and son are much more important to me than a dog, and peace in the home is more valuable than my personal comfort, long-term. However, if I am hearing you correctly, I think if I have to release Zeus into a family’s home where he is *wanted* and the people are excited about having him, and will take care of him, my wife and son will eventually get over it. I suppose there is always the risk that taking said action could also cause some long term powerful resentment and bitterness, which is partly what my wife is concerned about. She loves the dog but isn’t here that much to take care of him.

        One more detail that may be important to the mix. Before I had my super fun near death experience I had promised (apparently, I honestly don’t remember it this way) my son a new electric guitar (if he promised to practice and make steady improvement) as time went on. Can’t really afford that at the moment so now he thinks I’m a liar. So, getting rid of “his” dog, which however, is not his responsibility, is just another example of my unreliability, in his eyes.

        My wife is also concerned that our son will become more angry with me than he already is and getting rid of his dog is maybe pushing him too far and asking for trouble. Seems like I’m a bit of a hostage!

        Who is to grow here? Myself, or “them”? (Not really expecting an answer to that question! Too complicated and unfair to ask, even though I have…sort of)

        I apologize if this post has dragged the whole site in an unwanted direction!