Dog and divorce (kinda long) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 01-17-2010, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Cross-posted in Mindful Home/ Pets. First a little background: My DH and I have just separated within the last 2 months and are on very good terms. We've always shared similar values and parenting and are doing well with co-parenting in our new situation. This is the 2nd dog we've had in our relationship and she is almost 4yo. A larger breed mutt we got from the humane society, she's probably a golden retreiver mixed with a collie.

My concern is that she isn't getting her needs met and is getting depressed. Specifically, when we were all together she would get a good walk in the morning 45min-1hour of exercise and then could go in/out of the house all day into the yard. Not a big space for exercise but so she could get fresh air and lay outside or go pee, etc.

Now, because we are selling our home and DH is living there he doesn't want to clean up dog hair so he has requested that the dog live with me. I am living in a rented flat, where the landlord (who is a longtime friend of our family) prefers not to have a dog chained in their yard. It can really tear up the property. This is very understandable to me. And DH and I knew this was the situation and our agreement was that when DH has DD (50% of the time) then I would be responsible for getting the dog out. When I have DD then DH would need to come over to my house and get the dog out for exercise and pee breaks. We agreed that this was temporary until the house was sold and DH relocated where he could keep the dog with him when he didn't have DD. Currently, we live a 2minute drive or a 12 minute walk from each other. We agreed that there was a need to let the dog out 3 times a day. Since we made that agreement DH's been slacking and not living up to it. First, he said getting over in the middle of the day was problematic for him (despite the fact he is unemployed) and it interrupts his day too much. He said I should just walk the dog around the block w/ DD when we got home from school. This is not my preferred solution as getting DD 7.5yo to agree to this is sometimes difficult. Afterschool she is ready to play or do other things and isn't keen on being dragged along on a walk, so it is a bit of a sales job to convince her it is an important responsibility. Then, recently, DH has come earlier in the evening, before he goes out socially, say around 6:30ish and takes the dog around a couple of blocks - a 15 minute walk at best and thinks she is fine until 7:00am. This does not set well with me at all. In fact he forgot to come entirely one night and I had to scramble to get a friend to come over and sit in the house with DD while slept, so that I could get the dog out to go potty before bed. On the days that DD is with DH i make sure the dog gets a good 45 minute walk before I leave for work and again when I come home. She's in the house for about 8 hours. I then walk her again before bed.

When I talk with DH about this he says he isn't willing to change and that we may just have to get rid of the dog. I think he's not living up to his responsibility and getting rid of the dog would another big change for DD that isn't really about her choices but about DH and I deciding to divorce. My goal is to lessen the impact of this event on her life as best possible.

I'm not sure what to do? I could hire a dog walker to compensate for DH's lack of support but that would cost an estimated $140 a month and given his unemployment and our expenses, my low income it really is not feasible. Any thoughts on how I can manage the dog better or get him to step up? I love the dog, want to see that she is happy and healthy and that I am living up to the obligation that I took on when I adopted her.

Thanks for reading this far.
~ Denise
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#2 of 10 Old 01-17-2010, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by pinecone View Post
Any thoughts on how I can manage the dog better or get him to step up? ise
It is very difficult to control another person, so I am not sure how you can "get him to step up." Unfortunately, that will lead to either re-homing the dog or finding the money for the dog walker. I definitely would not rely on that money from your ex, especially since he is already suggesting re-homing.

I also understand your concern for your dd's feelings and the numerous changes involved in divorce, but there does come a time where you have a make a decision that is best for everyone involved... including the dog.

As your dd is 7.5 years old (more than old enough to understand pet responsibility), if she so desperately wants to keep the dog, then she needs to understand what that will entail, such as taking the dog for a walk, in lieu of playing or doing other things right after school.

I also had to make the very heart-wrenching decision to re-home my amazing pooch, due to my divorce and being the newly single wohm of a then 5-month old. It was hard, hard, hard, but in the long run, it was the best decision for all involved, most especialy for my beloved dog. I still get emails with photos from her new owners.

Good luck with your decision... it is not easy and just another heart-wrenching part of divorce.
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#3 of 10 Old 01-17-2010, 01:34 PM
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While I haven't been in this situation, I'm a dog owner and worked at an animal shelter while at university, so I have some thoughts that may or may not work.

Do you have a support system where you are to help with the single-parenting aspect of the split? If so, maybe you could enlist someone from that group to occasionally walk the dog or stay with your daughter. Similarly, maybe feel out your neighborhood and see if there are any dog lovers to befriend.

Another side of this is, especially if this is not a permanent set up, to figure out where the line is. What can be lived with short term (e.g., dog having to go 8 hours without a walk, if she can) vs what is just not possible (e.g. more than 12 hours overnight)? While not fair to the dog right now, it is probably better for her to suffer through some of the things you mention right now if it means not having to change owners.
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#4 of 10 Old 01-17-2010, 02:07 PM
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sorry for your tough situation. I agree with pp that you are probably not going to be able to make your ex change his ways. But just some ideas--could you talk to dd about the responibility and give her a small allowance or reward for helping you walk the dog? How about just taking dog out to pee when you first get home from school, then take an hour or so to play and have a snack and then both of you could walk the dog together? Is there someone in your neighborhood that you could trade off with--you walk their dog with yours when your ex has dd, and then when you have dd, they could walk your dog. Or maybe a kid or teenager in the neighborhood that would like to earn some extra money to walk the dog during those times when you are in a pinch--maybe this would be less expensive than a dog walker?
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#5 of 10 Old 01-17-2010, 09:07 PM
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Do you know of any homeschool groups in the area or could you search them out on Yahoo groups? I ask because many of the teens in our homeschool groups are big animal lovers and imagine they'd drive over to someone's house and walk their dog for way less than a professional would cost.
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#6 of 10 Old 01-17-2010, 09:13 PM
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your ex husband is not going to take care of your dog. and you can't make him.

So you have decide how you will live with the dog or how you will live without him. (the pet. not your xh) .

things your dd can do to help out. can you use the tie out for short periods while dd is outside playing with the dog. this way you don't have to worry about the dog pulling her down but she still gets to help the dog work off some energy. This is what my 7 year old does. the other two kids are older and take her for walks and runs. also your dd could brush and groom the dog. this will help control the hair in your home. You and your dd can walk the dog together. maybe put dd on a bike or scooter so you can keep a brisker pace. my kids will walk Lu down to the park with tennis courts few people use. if no one is there they will take her in and let her loose while they roller blade. she chases and runs and runs. usually there are my three kids and at least 2 other neighbor kids in on this goofyness.

there are lots of things your dd can do to help and she is going to need to help if she wants to keep the dog. have youasked her if she cares about keeping the dog?

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#7 of 10 Old 01-17-2010, 11:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks to all you responded. I see now that it is MY problem and that I am the one who has to come up with a solution rather than expect STB-exH to live up to what he said he was going to do.

I am glad to hear that it is reasonable to ask DD to step up, especially if she wants to keep the dog and the suggestion to find a home-schooling group is a good one, too.

I'm going to do whatever I can to keep the dog satisfied and make sure that she can stay with us. Aside from the commitment that was made when we got her, I like having a dog around as it gives me a sense of security.

The reality check is what I needed, so I appreciate all your thoughts and suggestions.

~ Denise
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#8 of 10 Old 01-18-2010, 12:57 AM
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are you in an apt building? There may be a teenager that would walk dogs for you, I know that in my apt there were a few teens that would walk dogs for less than professionals when they got home about 3pm.

Is your dog good on a leash? Can you handle two dogs? maybe you could trade off with a neighbor...

my dog loved doggie daycamp. I spent a lot on it during my divorce
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#9 of 10 Old 01-18-2010, 12:36 PM
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this might sound totally crazy - my kids are younger so i don't know what to expect at 7.5 - but can't dd be in the apartment alone for 10-20 minutes while you walk the dog?
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#10 of 10 Old 01-18-2010, 01:49 PM
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One thing that was hardest to do when I left my first husband was to give up my dog. He had been abused. But if I would have kept him he would have been abused even more.

I lived in military housing and we posted and found a new owner. After we interviewed several.

I know it hurts but there somes a point you have to ask what and who is being hurt worse.
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