“It’s Me Or the Dog”

If you’re reading this, perhaps you are in this situation. Your significant other wants to move on to the next phase in your relationship, but before that happens, your dog or cat needs to go. You’ve been presented with an ultimatum: you can have love or you can keep your dog, and you don’t know what to do.

As someone who has seen this situation frequently, here are some questions to help you work through the process:

  1. Why, exactly, does your significant other want you to rehome your animal?
    • If it’s uncontrollable allergies, then that’s one thing. Sometimes medication just isn’t going to hack it,  in which case you are facing a really tragic choice that you’ll just have to work through as a couple.
    • Likewise, there are some other health issues that might legitimately make living in a home with a dog an impossibility. I can’t think of any, really, but I’m sure they exist and I’m just not aware of them.
  2. Is your partner willing to compromise?
    • If your partner wants you to get rid of your beloved pet because dogs are dirty or cats are smelly, try to see if there are any compromises you can reach — maybe grooming your dog more often, or using odor-absorbent cat litter, for example.
    • If there are behavioral issues (e.g., destructiveness, aggression, submissive urination), can you commit to training them out of your pet within a certain time frame? A deadline for the training is important because if the problem goes unsolved or is left open-ended, tension is going to increase in the household, which the dog will then pick up on, which will make the dog more likely to act out.

There. We’ve looked at understandable reasons why a significant other might want you to get rid of your dog. Now let’s get to the heart of the matter. Suppose your partner doesn’t have a legitimate medical reason or a behavioral concern. What if your partner just doesn’t like dogs because they are messy or slobbery or affectionate or smelly? What if your partner has nice things and wants to keep them that way, and a dog threatens that?

Well, at this point, you need to ask yourself how much you love your partner. Would you be willing to rehome an animal that has loved you and trusted you in order to keep that partner? Would you be willing to take the risk that your dog would be unhappy and frightened, or placed in a bad home, so that you can stay with your significant other? Because I guarantee you that your dog is going to mourn your departure, and is going to look out the window waiting for you to come back for days, weeks, or sometimes even months. Can you live with making your dog suffer like that just because they happened to be inconvenient? Can you live with the knowledge that you’re doing this so you can keep getting laid?

You’ll notice I haven’t asked you whether your partner loves you, because I already know the answer to that. Your partner does NOT love you, not according to any definition I’ve ever seen. No one would ask someone they loved to do something so painful, selfish, and frankly, dishonorable.

I’ll make it even easier for you. I’ve known of dozens of cases where one partner made the other get rid of an animal simply because they didn’t like dogs or thought dogs were dirty or inconvenient. None of those relationships were worth a damn. The people who broke up after they dumped their dogs are still angry, guilty, and incredibly sad that they made that choice. The ones that didn’t break up are beyond toxic.

Here’s what I recommend: Dump this person. Hard. Then take your dog for a nice long walk.


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Moretta is a caring nurturer, a member of several 12-step programs, but not a licensed therapist. Her Twitter is

2 thoughts on ““It’s Me Or the Dog””

  1. Oh, good. This article went where I hoped it would.

    I establish very early on how someone feels about animals. If they aren’t 100% on board with pets, especially dogs, and allowing them to live completely WITH me — including on the bed and other furniture — we aren’t going to work out.

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