Must Love Dogs: Handling Marriage with a Non-Dog Lover
Must love dogs. I always laughed at the movie because I thought everyone in their right mind loved dogs. I mean, everyone does, right? I went through most of my life believing it.
Then I met the man who would become my husband.
When I made the decision to get a puppy during my first year of law school he was not 100% behind it, but he also did not say “no.” Although, if you ask him today, his version of this conversation is completely different. My decision to get a puppy was based on my desire to combat my loneliness of being a thousand miles away from everyone I love, my 16-year-old cat had been put to rest, and a cuddly puppy seemed like the best remedy to fill the space in my heart. I was not thinking about the long-term consequences of my mate not being a dog-lover, or how dogs live forever, or the work involved… it was a purely emotional decision. And, frankly, I would make it again in a heartbeat.
He did not seem to agree.
For the first three years of Toby’s life, it was just him and me. We lived in Gulfport while I attended law school. He provided the companionship and emotional support I needed to get through each stressful day. There were moments over those three years when I would not want to get out of bed, but Toby’s persistent nudges for a walk would eventually get me up.
I am confident God placed Toby in my life to get me through law school. Without him, I do not think I would have been emotionally strong enough.
I always thought that over time my husband would learn to love Toby as much as I do, especially before we got married. It just did not happen.
The challenge now is learning how to balance my love for my husband and keeping him happy in his own home, with my love and commitment to caring for Toby. I want to look at Toby and say he is just a dog but there’s this part inside of me that does not feel that way at all. Yes, he is a dog. Yet, he is so much more than an animal to me. He is my first child. The first living being I cared enough about to put his needs above my own. He taught me to be self-less. He taught me to be nurturing. He taught me that I want to be a mother.
My love for my husband, though, is incomparable. I would never place him beneath anyone – other than God. How do I make him see that? How do I show this? Why could we not have a house large enough to give Toby a separate area for himself?
We have tried so many things to compromise. Shed Defender. K-9 Top Coat. Baby Gates. Puppy cuts (essentially shaving him). The doggy body suits either do not fit, or Toby will not move in them. He will actually sit in one spot and whimper until we take the suit off, it is the most pathetic thing I have ever witnessed. The baby gates work slightly but our home is not designed appropriately to divide any significant area for Toby. And, the puppy cut just makes him look silly without really addressing any of the shedding issues.
For now I do not have the answers, I am too emotional from the recent row. Nonetheless, I will research – like the true geek I have become – and see if there is any guidance I may be able to provide on this subject. The only advice I have right now, is what I follow in every situation I do not know how to handle: PUSH => Pray Until Something Happens.
When you and your partner got together were there any big issues you had to overcome?
How did you handle it?
If not, how are you dealing with it?
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