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Open Thread: Marriage and Pets


How do you prepare for Fluffy or Fido?

by Maddie Eisenhart, Digital Director & Style Editor

Open Thread: Marriage and Pets | A Practical Wedding

Six months after Michael and I got married, we got our dog, Juno. We had been talking about getting a dog for years, and once we were married, it seemed like the natural progression before having kids (in fact, it looks like a lot of Americans are having dogs these days instead of babies). Like many dog owners, Michael and I did our research before bringing Juno home. What kind of food should she eat? Will we crate train? Who is responsible for letting her out at night? We were the exact kind of overprepared you’d expect first time dog-owners to be.

As it turned out, we weren’t prepared at all for what might happen if we ended up with a very, very sick, dog. We never talked about how far we were willing to go to keep our pet alive, hadn’t set aside any money for emergency services, or discussed anything beyond the day-to-day responsibilities of taking care of a normal, healthy animal. And you know what happens when we don’t talk about something first? We fight about it later. Getting Juno healthy was a long slog that made the first year of our marriage very difficult, but it could have been much worse. Michael and I are lucky that we ended up on the same page when it comes to Juno’s care. Those months getting her healthy would have been infinitely more difficult, if either one of us didn’t think it was worth it.

The good thing about our very, very sick dog is that she forced us to sit down and have a bunch of conversations we hadn’t even thought to approach yet—like who would be responsible for taking our future kids to doctor’s appointments, and what we would do if one of our parents ever fell ill and needed long term care. Now that we’re out of the weeds with Juno, we also have a much better idea of how to deal with these conversations if and when they arise in the future (never on less than four hours of sleep, for starters).

One of the reasons Michael and I didn’t have the right conversations before getting Juno was because we simply didn’t know what to talk about. But in a way, maybe that’s the whole point of pet ownership. It’s not that pets replace kids, or even precede them. But rather, owning a pet can be a good way to navigate future responsibilities, whatever those may be. For us, getting Juno was our first foray into team decision making on behalf of another living, breathing creature. We’re now much better equipped to make hard decisions together, if and when the time comes.

today we’re opening the floor to pet owners and furparents alike and asking for your best advice on how to prepare for bringing a furry creature into your home. What were the things you discussed that helped ease the process and what were the things you should have talked about in advance that you didn’t? How has having a pet impacted other aspects of your partnership?

Thinking about getting an animal? Hit us with your questions. 

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is the Managing Editor of A Practical Wedding. She’s been writing stories about boys and crushes since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) in the art of talking from NYU in 2008. In her spare time, she takes pictures of people in love. Maddie lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband Michael, her Mastiff named Juno, and her roommate named Joe.

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  • Laura C

    I was in the process of acquiring a cat when A and I started dating. (Henley, my-now-our cat, was my friend’s cat, but her other cat beat him up so relentlessly that we decided he might be better off with me as an only cat.) And A never liked animals much, though he was more open to cats than other kinds. But he really fell for Henley; I’ve joked he said he loved Henley before he said he loved me. Henley was diagnosed with a minor cancer when A was in finals his first year of law school and I held off telling him until the last exam was over, because I knew he’d be so upset.

    ETA I want a dog someday, which A is less enthusiastic about, but maybe the experience of falling in love with a cat has made him more open to it. He definitely sees it as a betrayal of Henley that I prefer dogs, though.

    • Jennie

      My husband had never had a dog before, when we were dating I knew we had to get a dog because I couldn’t marry someone who wouldn’t be okay having a dog in the house. We got a really cute 10 week old puppy, since he’d been bitten as a kid I knew he wouldn’t be afraid of a puppy. Plus, how can you not fall in love with a puppy? It worked! He loves our dog as much as I do and that sealed the deal for me that I could marry this guy.

      • Lauren from NH

        You got me there! That’s effing adorable!

    • Ang

      I allegedly got upset that my husband (when we were dating) regularly told his dog he loved him before he said it to me. I don’t remember this but he reminds me on a semi-regular basis how big of a deal I made about it.

      My husband is also wicked allergic to dogs. The man has to take a Benadryl in order to pet his dog without having a reaction. The fact that this guy would rescue a dog he can’t even comfortably pet pretty much sealed the deal that he was my Mr. Right.

  • Marta

    We have two dogs and a cat. The prediscussion went a little like this: “B, let’s get a dog/cat/2nd dog.” “No.”B, let’s get a dog/cat/2nd dog.” “No.”B, let’s get a dog/cat/2nd dog.” “Fine.”

    Now, the responsibility falls to me, as technically I am the one who wanted them, eventhough he loves them and gets all the joys and perks. He’ll walk them if I ask, but that’s about it. Sometimes I mind, but usually I don’t.

  • Meaghan

    My husband and I got a dog before we were married, but living together, and we were both TOTALLY unprepared for how much work it is – turns out when you’re a kid and you think you’re contributing to taking care of the family pet, your parents are actually doing EVERYTHING.

    That said, it was a great thing for our relationship because it caused us to figure out how we work as a team to tackle something big and challenging (literally, we have a Great Dane).

  • Anonfornow

    Question from a pet owner already. My partner got a dog right before we moved in together, so we have been navigating the our dog/his dog realm. Now we are getting married so yes, it’s our dog. But it’s been hard navigating that transition with how to make decisions for our puppy as a couple.

    • Katherine

      My husband had two cats, and I had one cat, when we got married. (And we’d had these cats long before we met.) My cat and his cats are NOT friends, but they don’t hurt each other. Even though (for various reasons) my husband has basically all of the cat care duties, I still think of the cats primarily as his 2, and my 1, but also a little bit ours. So far there haven’t been any major issues to deal with, but I’d give my husband primary decision making power with “his” cats if, for example, we had to ponder significant healthcare treatment, and I think he’d do the same with “my” cat. I don’t think it has to be that way, but I think that’s what would work best for us.

      Of course, it might be different if your partner got the dog when you were already dating & considering moving in together. In that case, you might have been part of the dog acquiring decision in the first place.

    • Cynth

      When my now-husband moved in I had already had my cat for 9ish years, so she was definitely Mine (and for awhile would not go near him), it took a long time for their relationship to change, and I still take the primary role in vet visits, buying food, etc., but I think it just takes time to these things to meld. For us it also took my going out of town for a couple of weeks for them to bond- spending time together without me where he was the primary caregiver. Also, things changed when he made more of a direct effort to be affectionate with her, get down on the floor with her etc. Not having spent much time with cats before, he didn’t realize how he wasn’t interacting with her- didn’t feel comfortable picking her up, putting his face in hers etc., once he had those more intimate type gestures to her, she responded, but (in her catlike way), she hadn’t been willing to approach him for those things. Dogs are different, but still have that alpha “one main person” thing that is tough to change. We’ve had to navigate what the pet “rules” are, and I was a more lax pet owner than he prefers (I’m fine with sharing my water with her, etc.- that’s what happens after 9 years of just the two of us. Gulp.)

  • Lauren from NH

    I think one of the biggest things new pet owners need to be mentally prepared for is that there is no perfect pet. Don’t think “Oh I will stick to puppy training religiously and my new dog is going to be a well behaved angel and never jump or growl out of turn.” NO. They have personalities of their own. At some point or another, due to illness or not, they will develop a problematic behavior and you need to deal like an adult, because they are like babies and don’t really understand what they did.

    My babies had a cord chewing compulsion from 4 months to 10 months. That cost us maybe $300 in chewed headphone wires and phone chargers (one pair was very nice until 10 seconds later it wasn’t). But we adjusted and retrained and, while we still hide headphones like squirrels with nuts, we fixed the problem.

    Oh and here, for cuteness…

    (Sorry in advance if there are a gajillion pictures…I am not sure this is working….)

    • MC

      AWWWWWWWW!!!!

    • Lawyerette510

      BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • http://www.devabydefinition.com/ Deva C.

        Adorable! I’m also on the “get two kittens instead of one” bench – they get a playmate to help wear them out!

    • Lauren from NH

      If I can also make a short plug for getting a pair of kitties instead of just one. That wasn’t our first plan but the lady fostering them all suggested it. After doing a little homework, the idea of them having a friend while we’re at work and being able play and learn together sold me. These two are siblings, brother and sister and very good friends :)

      • MDBethann

        I second that, particularly if they are from the same litter and are used to one another. My husband had 3 female cats when we met – 2 are from the same litter and the 3rd is a year or so younger and from a completely different set of parents. The 2 sisters get along great, but much of the time, there is an uneasy truce between the 3rd cat and the 2 sisters; depending on the day, there can be random sneak attacks & fights that we have to break up. Other times, they groom each other or just ignore each other. The siblings, however, fight a lot less (disclaimer: my BFF’s cats are siblings too, but they can really go at it some times, so not all sibling pairs are perfect personality matches).

      • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

        Also an advocate for getting cats (not just kittens!) in pairs. We adopted our second cat after we moved out of Bryan’s parents’ house—our first cat got so used to having other cats around to bug, that he was a royal terror/mischief maker by himself.

        However, don’t get puppies from the same litter! And it’s not a good idea to have two puppies that are the same age unless you’re really set on training them and working with them separately. More on that here: http://gooddogsco.com/2014/05/littermate-syndrome/

        • Lauren from NH

          Wow! I have noticed that but never knew the reasoning. Thanks for sharing!

        • EF

          getting 2 older cats (who are so rarely adopted) is exactly our plan! can’t wait until we have an apartment that will allow it.

      • Lawyerette510

        Very good point. I regret not getting a second kitten when we adopted Moxie (although the way she came into our lives, there was a second to adopt). The result of her being an only-cat is that she is all up on our grumpy old dog, who still has mixed feelings about it a year later.

      • Mezza

        Yes, kittens really should be adopted in pairs. The rescue organization for whom I foster actually won’t allow someone to adopt a single kitten unless they have another young cat or dog already. I think that’s a pretty common policy in this area (NYC).

      • Inmara

        Yes, this would be my advice too, especially for couples who spend a lot of time at work and in weekends are often away from home! My intention was to adopt two kittens from one litter, but unfortunately one of them died before I took them home from shelter. Then I spent quite a lot of time searching for another kitten, and after a few months found one I liked, but then the first cat has been already used to living alone, so it took some time for him to adapt to the new companion. Now they get along just fine, three times a day chasing each other through the apartment and having some fights, but they seem to be fun fights and nobody gets abused or injured for real.
        Speaking on pets impact on our marriage – as adopting cats was my idea, I take most duties to care for them – but my husband can take those over if necessary (I’m often away from home due to job), and is really great when cats need medical care. We haven’t discussed hard stuff, though, as we haven’t done it for other big decisions which may arise in the future – we rely on possibility to solve problems together when shit happens.
        https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7075/6967410016_01f8bfe15b_b.jpg

        https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2851/9549973706_59b2c980da_b.jpg

    • Emily

      “There is no perfect pet.” –SO TRUE! I had images of my off-leash dog soaring in the air and grabbing frisbees and then joining me in the outdoor seating of a coffee shop. She is not that dog, but I love her anyway. I think babies are like this too: even if you’ve had fantasies of coaching little league for years, your child may have no interest whatsoever. What out for fantasy pets (and children!).

      • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

        oh my gosh, we share the same fantasy. hahahahha and I love how you phrased it: “I had images of my off-leash dog soaring in the air and grabbing frisbees and then joining me in the outdoor seating of a coffee shop. ” Spot on. Yeah, my dog is….special….but not that.

      • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

        Oh and to add, YES i think babies are the same way. I have to remind myself that mother hood might not look like my Pinterest board, and I will probably seldom breastfeed from a mountain top at sunrise. I mean, I might do those things, but there will be a lot of filler in between…

        • Emily

          I have an image of standing on one leg, stretched out in some beautiful yoga pose, and breastfeeding, at sunrise, of course, and choruses of angels and Who’s singing while butterflies land on your muscular-yet-delicate outstretched leg, birds pick up the perfectly white lace handkerchief the baby dropped, and a lioness watches knowingly from a silhouetted perch!

          Under a rainbow.

          • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

            ahahahahhaah this literally made me laugh out loud :)

    • Nicole Cherae

      Any advice for how to retrain? My little one has a cord fetish as well.

      • Lauren from NH

        What ended up working for us was an herbal spray cat repellent that we picked up from PetSmart. It had a terrible bitter flavor that would linger. We treated the cords with it and that eventually deterred them. You do need to retreat the wires every so often. Also use a cloth or paper towel when a applying, it can stick to your hands for hours like nail polish remover but worse. This does have the unfortunate side effect that sometimes you with taste the bitterness on your fingers after unraveling your headphones etc. A further tactic we did not end up using would be to keep a chewed cord for teaching purposes. Treat it with the spray and give it to the cat to enforce the mental connection that chewing it is not enjoyable. For that 6 months we were also very religious about putting our cords away. Under a blanket or t-shirt or in any drawer would do.

        Best of luck! I know it can be hugely frustrating. I would get home from a run, pull my ear buds out, get a glass of water and turn around and the damage was done in seconds.

    • Jules

      OH MY GOD SO CUTE.

  • http://3upadventures.com Beth

    We brought Sprocket home just over two years before we got married. We had a lot of discussions about what our discipline expectations were and how we wanted him involved in our lives. He also brought about a lot of conversations about the definition of our little family once he was home. He is always so sweet and kind, the way he is has inspired us both to be better in our marriage. As corny as that is…

  • Blair

    I got my cat about a year before my fiance and I got engaged; about 18 months before our wedding. I picked out a hypoallergenic kitten, as my fiance has mild cat allergies. We both immediately fell in love with the little fur ball. Sometimes my cat is a jerk (he loves chewing on REAL leather, never the fake stuff), but it’s been amazing to see how much our love for each other has just grown and expanded by having throwing another living creature into the mix. We always joke about our “little family” when the three of us are curled up in bed or on the couch. Thankfully, we haven’t hit any hard times yet, and this piece has reminded me that this is an important topic to cover.

  • Amy Elizabeth

    I had a cat when we met, and Devon became a sort of step-parent to her. Loved the shit out of her, but also felt like decisions, discipline, etc were my call. Then we adopted a dog together who is the SWEETEST thing ever. So easy and adorable. We call him our dog baby and joke about how much his life will change when we have actual human children. And its been super refreshing to see Devon take such an active role in the dog’s care and decisions. He has opinions, he does chores, he fusses over the dog, he is so happy to ‘do more than 50% of the work and not keep track.’ I see it as a good omen for when the future human children come along, fingers crossed.

  • anonpsu

    I got a dog before my SO and I were engaged/living together. I asked him many times about getting a dog as it would one day be “our dog”, but I don’t think he fully realized the commitment of a dog! I take full responsibility in caring for the dog since it was “my dog” first and my idea/desire. And that works out fine. I think sometimes he just forgets that we can’t jump in the car and take an overnight trip without planning around the dog well in advance. Or someone has to come home right after work to take her out. They’re still adjusting to living together (dog is getting a bit jealous–not in the aggressive way), and he’s adjusting to the responsibility, but it’s working out.

    Something to talk about as a couple–what is your number in how much you will spend caring for an emergency health situation for the pet? Because everyone has a number. $2,000, $5,000, $10,000 what have you. We got pet insurance, but do not rule out the chance that your pet will have a very serious and emergency health crisis and you need to know how much you will spend before having to humanely euthanize a pet. Some people don’t have a limit, but it can be a nasty argument if you aren’t on the same page about that.

    • Alice

      Yes to the number as a ballpark, but the situation always matters, too. $5000 for chemo to keep a dog with lymphoma alive for another eight months might look pretty different than $5000 spent on GI surgery to resolve a one-off condition in a young dog…

  • Lawyerette510

    I’d already had my dog Louie for 6+ years when Dave came into our lives. Dave had never really had a dog, although he loved cats. Louie immediately took to Dave, and Dave quickly warmed up to him, and over the 5-or-so years before we were married Louie went from “mine” to “ours” but with an emphasis on really being Dave’s. There was a period of time when Dave was getting the fun stuff but I was doing the hard stuff like appointments, discipline, pills, etc but we finally talked about how I was feeling that things weren’t divided evenly and made some adjustments.

    About a year ago we adopted a kitten that was still being bottle-fed. We both wanted a cat, but I really wanted the tiny kitten, so I took the lead on her care when she was a baby, and I took charge of the litter-box, but we talked about that before-hand.

    Because I had Louie before Dave, I already had my approach to his care, discipline, structure, and what I would do in the case of health disaster/ emergency, but overtime as Louie has become our dog, I’ve had to be flexible and listen to Dave on those and let go of some pieces.

    I think caring for the two pets really helps us feel like a family and often they provide an outlet for tension or conflict that eases things. We don’t plan to have kids, so it’s nice to have two beings to care for together and unite together about.

    Now for pics

  • Sarah E

    I’m a dog person and my partner is a cat person. While our apartment won’t let us have pets now, P knows that I pine for a dog (by dog person, I mean Julie of the Wolves sounded like an awesome adventure and I totally want to be adopted by a wolf pack), and when we move that’s absolutely a condition for our next place. P would like to have a cat, but he’s less passionate about getting one ASAP.

    It causes discussions particularly because P’s previous roommates had a dog that they didn’t care for well. The dog howled without provocation and without responding to discipline, was on all the furniture, and (the most egregious foul) would often have accidents in the house, meaning when P was the first one to discover them, he had to clean it up, unless he wanted it to sit there until someone else got home. Fortunately, he’s seen through my family that I take more active care of our animals. It did mean, though, that he laid down some rules that I may not otherwise have been adamant about, like definitely keeping the dog(s) off the furniture and out of bed. That’s A-okay with me, I’m happy to sit on the floor for dog-snuggling. In saying that I’m not a cat person, though, I had to be more specific about what I don’t like and how to address it, like the near-impossibility of keeping them off/out of certain places, especially in the kitchen, and the fact that I hate litter boxes and would prefer it cleaned out daily.

    I’m sure we’ll need to keep discussing it and working on it when the time comes to actually adopt, but it helps that we are both firmly invested in caring for our chosen pets. I love walking dogs, and will gladly walk a dog twice a day if that’s what is needed to exercise it and keep it out of trouble. P loves playing with cats, and will happily spend an hour or more with a laser pointer or wand thing letting the cat chase it. (I don’t think he realizes how serious I am about the litter box, though.)

    So in a nutshell, if you really aren’t on the same page re: animals, it’s worth it — just like for anything in a shared life– to look at it in more detail. What, particularly don’t you like about cats/dogs/animal owning, and can you find solutions to those issues that satisfy you both?

  • Sarah

    We have decided not to get a pet before we have kids. We figure we’d have to make similar sacrifices for a dog as we would for a child – we can’t just leave all weekend, we can’t just leave nice shit strewn about the house without someone ruining it or choking on it, we have to spend the money to feed and care for another living thing, we can’t go on extended vacations without taking it with us or arranging for a sitter, we will probably have difficult conversations about how to raise it, etc – and if we’re going to make those sacrifices we’d rather just do it for a kid, especially since we’re already in our 30s. We can always add a dog. We can’t guarantee we can always add a child. I know the experiences of pet ownership and child ownership are different, but the reasons we’re holding out on having kids are the same reasons we’re holding out on a pet – we’re not ready to give up our lifestyle. When we are, we’re gonna be so old that a kid HAS to come first. ;)

    • nikki

      Here here! I was at a friend’s baby shower recently and talked about not having time for a dog for all the reasons you listed above. My friend looked at me and exclaimed, “And you’re thinking about having a baby!” I understand that caregiving for a pet gives you experience for childcare, but I would not say it’s a prerequisite. When the time comes that my husband and I decide it’s time to have a baby, we know we’ll need to make changes, but I would not say we are selfish for not wanting to do it sooner for a pet. Also, based on anecdotes from family and coworkers, I would not want to be a pet owner and new mom at the same time. I have too many concerns about caring for both and their safety from one another.

      • Sarah

        yeah and also (I am going to get FLAMED for this) if I have to make a sacrifice, I’m gonna do it for a human before I’m gonna do it for an animal. I will be far less resentful of a child than I will be of a dog. If Junior pukes on the $2,000 couch and I have to stay in all weekend taking care of him when he’s sick, well, that’s what I have to do because I love my child and I’m his mother. But if Fido scratches the $2,000 leather couch and I have to stay in all weekend because there’s no one to feed or take the dog out or whatever, I’m gonna be pissed. My husband and I will happily sacrifice for a child when the time is right but it’s hard for me to imagine being as happy to do it for an animal, which is why we really shouldn’t have one.

        • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

          Totally understandable.

        • Alice

          Good for you to recognize that! I have always wondered at people who came into the vet clinic where I worked and were clearly resentful of having to spend the time, money, or effort to care for their animals. If you don’t want that responsibility, don’t have pets! It’s really that simple. Although obviously there are special cases where people’s financial circumstances change, etc., which is always tough to handle.

        • MDBethann

          Not to mention the fact that unless they are sick, babies/children are more accepted at theaters/restaurants/shopping, etc. Most businesses post “no pets except service animals” on their doors, but typically you don’t see “service babies only” signs (granted, some venues have appropriate ages, but children will grow into stuff – pets won’t).

      • Violet

        Yes, not a prerequisite. Raising a human and owning a pet are different concepts. If you have a healthy, typically-developing child, the demands change as they get older, and eventually lessen once they become adults. A dog/cat is always going to require the exact same kind of and amount of care.

    • Daisy6564

      I desperately want a dog but I agree that it is almost kid-level of responsibility so if we are not ready for kids, we are not really ready for a dog.

      Also, I remember being so sad as a child watching “Lady and the Tramp” when Lady’s family essentially forgets about her when they have a new baby. Having grown up with dogs I know that they have feelings and are deeply tuned-in to changes in their people. I don’t want to get a dog now only to make it second banana in a few years when we start having kids.

      As much as it pains me, I think the dog will have to wait until the kids come and are old enough to handle it.

      • Rachelle

        Ha! I forgot how sad I was as a child watching Lady and the Tramp because of that. And my parents though I didn’t care that much about animals until they saw how obsessed I was over my own dog!

      • MDBethann

        Not only may the pet feel neglected, but I’ve seen several families in which the dog was pretty much the “baby” before the human baby arrived. The dog did NOT handle the arrival of the human baby well at all. One family friend realized it early enough and the dog went off to the wife’s parents’ home so both dog and baby would be safe. However, another family wasn’t so lucky and the dog attacked the baby in its crib.

        We have cats, all declawed – 1 of which is super curious about my friends babies when they visit but usually just sniffs them and walks away. The other 2 cats are so terrified of the noise that they usually run and hide. So we’re not too worried about any of them hurting the baby when s/he arrives this fall. Once the kid becomes mobile and starts interacting with the cats, that’s a different story, but the kid will need to learn that pulling cat tails and squeezing the cats are a bad idea in some fashion!

    • Michelle M.

      Same here!

  • Cara

    My parents moved earlier this year and didn’t want to keep my dog that we got like, 8 or 9 years ago (due to space and also not loving her enough!), so we volunteered to first just have her for awhile until they got settled, then kind of just kept her. She also went blind at the beginning of the year, so we not only had an almost 10 year old dog suddenly, but also one that needed her eyes removed. And then just this last week she had some other health issues crop up, but I think are under control now. So basically she’s high maintenance.

    We went from carefree newlyweds to pet owners pretty quickly, and didn’t really have much time to discuss anything! I grew up with dogs, so I kind of knew what to expect, but he mostly had cats growing up. Plus since she was my dog originally, I worried she’d stay mine. I have noticed that I’ve stepped up a bit more in her care, but it’s incredible to me to see him interact with her and love her and want to take care of her. He doesn’t bat an eye at the expensive vet bills, helps clean up after her, makes sure she has food and water all the time… Last week when she had some sudden health issues, I started to freak a bit about how we should never have kids because it was so hard and scary with a dog, but it was a real learning experience (and my husband was such a help). Being up late, cleaning up poop, worrying about her feeling icky, and having to wait until morning to get her checked out… It was like what I expect having a sick kid would feel like, except with a kid it’d be a hundred times worse. I’m really glad we have a little beast in the house to ease us into the idea of caring for another being.

    • Hope

      We had a similar situation. We had talked about getting a dog but decided that we couldn’t put in the hours necessary to house train a puppy. Then his parents sold their house sooner than expected and moved into an apartment that didn’t take dogs. They had 3 little dogs so we took one, 10 year old, with two days notice.
      We’re super fortunate in that our dog can last a short work day without peeing. But it means someone has to come straight home from work and we can’t go out for the day and impromptu decide to stay out for the evening.

      We also travel in the summer so have found friends who are willing to house sit and dog sit for less than a professional charges. Otherwise we couldn’t afford to go away as long. When these friends dog sit we leave them a note that says “XXXX has had a good, long life and if anything terrible happens, such as a car accident, no extraordinary measures are to be taken to prolong her life”

      Owning our dog has made us more willing to compromise and weirdly prepared us for end of life care!

  • Caitlin_DD

    I have been waiting for this article. Y’all are the best.

  • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

    I adopted two cats about a year before Matt and I started dating, now married. He loves them to pieces. He always has their best interest in mind. He cares for them well. I love them to pieces. Harrass them a bit to much (carry them around, to their protest). I cared for them well, until we moved from one house to another. Now the cat litter is in the basement and Matt does it every single morning mostly. Feeding the kitties seems to have fallen to him too. So this has taught me that I need to step up care taking game for it to be equitable.

    Some other interesting notes.

    Our cats don’t love the dog that they’ve met. She’s tall and thin. They are always skittish. (They hate outside cats even more.) So, the last time the dog was here we had a discussion about how we might have to wait to get a dog until a day when maybe our kitties aren’t around. But maybe they would be better with a medium/small dog. His care for their happiness made my heart swell.

    We have a neighbor dog who is small and reminds me of a cupcake. We always talk to him, and actually talk about every dog/cat/animal we ever see. eee! squeee! urgh! agah! And he loves them all equally. I’m so used to a love ‘em-or-hate ‘em attitude around smaller dogs (no offense to anyone with a little dog, I love them too) that I hadn’t expected Matt to really be interested in actually owning a small dog. But a couple of weeks ago I realized he would be happy to own whatever dog seemed best for our family at the time (small/medium/large/Juno sized). His love for all animals…well I sure do love it.

    And now introducing Sam & Lulu, orange tabby and calico respectively.

    • MC

      AWWWWWW! I particularly love the orange & calico duos – two of the cats I used to cat-sit are an orange & calico pair, and now Fiance & I have an orange cat and are planning to adopt another by the end of the year, and all I can think is, “CALICO!”

      • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

        Sam & Lulu are brother and sister, which is really cool because all of her pretty gray fur he also has, but it make his feet look dirty like he was playing in soot. Adorable.

    • Jennie

      I know not every set of cats is the same, so this could definitely not be what happens for your kitties, BUT. I’m a dog person who loves cats too and when I graduated from college, got a cat because I knew I couldn’t care for a dog at the time. When we moved in together, we got another cat and then a puppy. By that time first kitty was 3 and more or less terrified of dogs (second kitty is un-intelligent and would try to snuggle a dog that is interested in eating him…). First kitty hid on top of the fridge for two weeks, but the puppy was smaller than her so we figured she’d get her life together. Sure enough, four years later, she plays hide and seek with the dog when she’s feeling feisty and otherwise mostly ignores him (he’s 65 lbs now). Here they are snuggling together:

      • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

        It took our two cats about a month to accept (aka be in the same room and not hissing/yowling) our dog, and then maybe another 2 months for them to be friendly. It takes time, but they usually adjust. Just don’t force it, and make sure they have spaces to retreat where the dogs aren’t allowed to bother them.

        • lady brett

          this is my dog and my ex’s cat (both ours at the time)…p.s. that’s a 30 lb dog and a massive cat, not a tiny dog.

  • Erin

    On a human fur note – Maddie, I LOVE your purple hair!!

  • Cait Hawley

    My FH and I have been dating for over 8 years and we already have a dog and cat. In the spring of 2013 (prior to being engaged), our cat became very ill, went through a myriad of procedures, and tons of dollars, until we finally figured out what was wrong. We nearly had to put him down because we truly couldn’t see how we could spend a potential $6K on surgery. (Luckily, we were able to get the surgery he needed at a different, cheaper, vet and all was, mostly, well). We were never at all prepared for the fighting about money and the crying about the cat. It put an insane amount of stress on us and our relationship, but we came out on the other side a ton stronger and happier. (1. We had a living cat, hooray! and 2. We made it through that shit together.)

    Now, we’re about 3 months out from our wedding. 2 months ago we found out that our dog is suffering from a massive heart tumor/heart failure. He’s an older dog (about 8), but we’ve only had him for 2 years. He’s ok from day to day, but we know it’s only a matter of time before we lose him. We’re both devastated and dealing with it, but luckily (I guess?) the financial strain is not so great in this scenario (just routine vet visits, meds, etc.) We still medicate him 3 times a day, we’re constantly taking him outside, watching him lose a ton of weight. While over the moon about our upcoming October wedding, it’s incredibly difficult for me to stay “up”. I’d give away everything on my registry for my dog not to be dying.

    Honestly, the best thing, if I had to pick, about both experiences is my fiance. I’m extremely emotional when it comes to our animals, and he (and his hugs) have been there for me throughout. I just hope that when it’s necessary, I’m being (and will be) strong enough to be there for him. I think, for us, our pet experiences have prepared us to wade through all kinds of things once we’re married.

    Do I sometimes wish we’d had conversations prior to our guys being sick re: end of life care and/or how much we’d be willing to spend to keep them alive? Sure. But like Maddie mentioned, you don’t know you need to have those conversations until it’s kind of too late. That is just so true.

    Sorry to be such a bummer, but this article really jumped out at me. I’m glad that Juno is well. Everyone go hug your babies :)

    • Leslie

      “I’d give away everything on my registry for my dog not to be dying.”

      And now I am crying at work. So sorry for what you are going through. My husband and I adopted our dog (now four) shortly after we moved in together and I realize how painful it must be. Don’t forget that the greatest gift you can give is happiness and comfort in final days.

      • Eenie

        My boyfriend and I have decided our cats are living forever. It’s probably not a good plan, but we haven’t ever done the what if scenarios with them. I would just cry the whole time. I think we’ll wait until the first major health crisis and go from there.

    • Alison O

      So sorry about your dog being sick. :(

  • MC

    Oh man. Before we moved to a new state together to live together for the first time, I made it VERY clear that we would be adopting a cat. I had wanted one for years but never ended up living in a place that was cat-friendly. When Fiance was choosing our first apartment, I told him (truthfully) that I didn’t care where we lived as long as we could have a cat. Six days after moving in together we adopted our beautiful baby Maine coon mix.

    I have always been a cat person and Fiance has always leaned toward being a dog person, and we were both expecting that I would love the cat a little more than he would. But on the first day we brought him home, after our cat spent ten minutes exploring our apartment, he jumped right into Fiance’s lap, curled up, fell asleep, and started snoring. Since then we have both loved him more than we can articulate, and it makes our living-together experience so much more joyful. No major health issues so far, but our cat is FIV positive, and knowing that we are both 100% committed to his health and happiness is very reassuring.

    • MC

      Aaaaand since everyone is posting adorable pictures, here’s mine:

  • lady brett

    oh man, getting our dog was fucking terrible (it’s funny now, but man, it was a bad case of bad communication). i mean, we had already had dogs, separately and together, so taking care of a dog and then deciding to get another dog wasn’t a big deal.

    but then we went to the rescue place to see these puppies, and my honey went all “love it and squeeze it and call it george!” on this puppy…and basically agreed to take it home without asking me what i thought. i was totally flipped out by the “hard sale” process at the rescue place, and totally flipped out by making a decision too fast, and kind of furious about the whole thing.

    and *then* we got home (with this puppy i wasn’t sure i wanted) and my dog *would not go near her* (like, stopped eating and drinking because the puppy touched his food and water). so then i was also totally flipped out that my dog hated the puppy and was mad at us, or something. (especially since we were, largely, getting a new dog for my dog’s sake, because he was in deep mourning for my honey’s dog, who had just died. also, that pet experience was our first time to process grief together.)

    and *then* the puppy almost died from a crazy disease that she’d already had when she was rescued. (which was why my dog wouldn’t interact with her: ’cause he’s smart.) we had to discuss the possibility of putting her down (she was only like 2 months old) if her brain damage progressed. it didn’t, but even without that, she probably only made it because we smuggled her to work with us so we could provide 24-hour care for a week or two. so now we have a 5-year-old mildly brain damaged bizarro-dog (that i *love*!), my/our dog (who is happy with his puppy now that she’s not infesting his house), and a hell of a trial-by-fire in talking about hard things – whether because they’re actually hard, or because we made them hard by being stupid.

  • Lauren

    has APW ever hosted a conversation like this about real children? we’re going to forego the pet first scenario– but is there a pre-baby counseling?

  • light0a0candle

    I remember the first time we came home to our first shit explosion. LOL. Right of passage for dog owners I think.

    We decided to go with pet insurance when we got our puppy, mostly because dogs can be so damn expensive. In our first year with her we’ve spent around $800 in vet bills for illness alone, not including her spay surgery or vaccinations. We’ve gotten about $500 back from pet insurance. We’d had a cat for over a year and had never paid so much in vet bills before we got our dog, but luckily Pet Plan takes care of most of that.

    It definitely was an adjustment period of course. For me more than my significant other. I was super stressed and pissy for about a month after getting our cat and three months after getting our dog. I’m surprised by how much having a dog has changed our lives. I think a lot now about how I would rather be at home and how my dream job is working from home so I can spend more time with the pets. I think about when we have kids and that desire will probably increase tenfold. I am a little sad we didn’t do more living out of the country before having pets, as now I feel like I could never leave them with a relative for more than a couple weeks and flying with a pet freaks me the heck out. You should definitely be ready for the lifestyle change before making the commitment. As she’s crated all day while we’re at work, we don’t really go out in the evenings unless she can come along or we can arrange for someone to watch her.

    All that aside, pets, and especially dogs, are so so rewarding. Really makes us feel like we’ve created a little family, and staves off my biological clock for sure. ; )

    • Leslie

      Yes on the shit explosion! We got our dog as a puppy on a Sunday. Then we realized on Tuesday that we had bought concert tickets months ago for Thursday. Puppy was already crate trained and the concert was local so we figured he would be fine for a few hours while we were gone. Cue three hours later and we come home to find shit smeared all over his crate and everything around it. I literally cried that night because I was overtired (from getting up three times a night to take the puppy out/generally panic about if the puppy was okay) and generally exhausted from thinking I had to use every moment as a teaching moment with the puppy. In the end I received the best advice I have ever gotten from my now husband: Even if you don’t do everything perfectly, it will be FINE.

      My second piece of advice for anybody considering getting a new puppy that will need to be housebroken when you don’t have a house with a fenced yard: Adopt in the spring/summer. My dog would ONLY crap if it was at the top of this giant snow pile in my apartment’s parking lot. Well, that or on my living room floor. So I spent my winter trudging up, and falling through, that giant snow pile multiple times a day, then trying not to fall on my face as he gleefully ran down the pile when he was finished.

    • ktmarie

      My husband coined the term poopocalypse after the first time and we now ‘affectionately’ refer to poopocalypse I and II (oddly enough, one happened when I was out of town and the other happened when he was out of town… fingers crossed we avoid PIII)

  • Becca

    I have a question about pet insurance! There are so many different options, we’re overwhelmed. I think we’ve also been lazyish because of the reimbursement model. It seems like most pet insurance companies expect pet parents (ahem, owners?) to pay upfront for procedures and then submit a claim. We’ve invested in quite a bit of dental work for our two older recently adopted cats, and then I guess we just think. Eh. Submitting a claim for reimbursement seems like too much work… Gah.

    So! If someone has a recommendation for an insurance company they like and trust and that has been useful, I’m eager to know! I know that we could be saving some money and am a little ashamed that we haven’t just picked an option and started paying premiums.

    • Cynth

      Yes to pet insurance!! I have it through the ASPCA and looove it. My cat is now 13 and has settled down a bit, but I wish I had gotten it sooner. As a young 20 something (me), before I knew such insurance existed my cat got hit by a car and had to have major hip surgery. Of course in tears and shock I just handed over a credit card, handed her to the emergency vet and dealt with how to pay for it later. ASPCA insurance has been great- its super affordable even for an older cat (who now get is into much less trouble than when she was younger, but I’m expecting aging issues soon). The vet usually submits the paperwork for me, so it’s been No hassle, and you can choose the level of coverage- to either cover everything (even preventative care), or just for emergency/illness/accident which is what we have. Totally worth a few dollars each month to not worry she’ll need some crazy expensive procedure. After 13 years of caring for her, I’d basically pony up for whatever she needs to be safe/healthy/pain free, so it’s nice to know I don’t have to worry about cost.

      • Becca

        Thanks so much, Cynth! This is super helpful. I’m going to call our vet and see if they’re willing to submit paperwork– that would probably go a long way in helping to combat the lazies. I agree, totally worth a few dollars each month for coverage :)

    • Mezza

      I need to get pet insurance too. Two years in a row now my cat has had medical expenses of over $1000, and it’s just dumb of me not to have insurance yet. Watching this thread for suggestions!

    • Lawyerette510

      Just be sure that you understand the policy’s stance on what is considered a pre-existing condition, because I know many people who have had bad experiences with pet insurance not paying for much because of that loop-hole.

      • Becca

        Good to know. Thanks to you and Rachelle!

    • Rachelle

      We got insurance through Petplan after my dog ate an entire bag of chocolate chips from Costco and we got the $1800 bill. No claims so far, luckily, but they are the cheapest for accident/illness coverage (they don’t offer preventive coverage as far as I know) and I really like the company. Do be aware that anything pre-existing isn’t covered, as is the case for all pet insurance I found in my research. Submitting a claim may seem like a lot of work, but ish gets expensive FAST and the work is well worth the money saved in my opinion!

    • stella

      We use VPI and like it. Have used them for about 4 yrs.

  • Allie Emma

    Our newly adopted, supposedly healthy, 2 yr old pup that we got from a well respected rescue group was at the vet the week after we got her, needing an emergency surgery. We were still in the phase of deciding on training and dog food, and hadn’t gotten around to really talking about how far we were willing to go financially for medical care. And suddenly we were on the spot deciding if we wanted to pay for and go through with an expensive surgery that might not save this dog we barely even knew.

    Thankfully, the rescue group paid for her $5,000+ vet expenses. But that was a whirlwind for us! Fortunately she survived and is doing great. She has since developed a separate medical problem that requires $60/month in meds + regular vet visits, but is otherwise a playful young dog. We’ve been so blessed in the past with dogs that have been healthy up until old age, that we didn’t really expect this. But that’s life, I guess. We’ve learned a lot and are so grateful every day that we have her

  • Ariel

    I had adopted a kitten a few months before my husband and I started dating. That cat is now almost 9. My husband brought a snake into the relationship (now around 16?). We adopted a dog together after moving to our second apartment (finding a place that allowed dogs was a major requirement). Our dog is now 3. Dog loves the cat, cat hates the dog, snake is ambivalent (and the easiest to take care of by far). Adopting our dog together has definitely brought us closer. He is our baby. It was helpful to us to adopt a 1 year old dog – he was housebroken when we got him! Going to dog obedience school and learning together how to train him and using consistent signals/terminology was helpful as well.

    • Ariel

      Sorry for the screenshot – file was too big otherwise! This is a picture of our dog from the park yesterday.

      • Lawyerette510

        Such a cute pup!

  • Gina

    To be honest, we didn’t talk about it. We had planned on getting a dog when we moved in together, and he called me about a month before that and said, “I saw the cutest dog in the shelter’s personal ads (small town newspapers FTW) and I think he should be ours.” And he was.

    My now-husband trained the dog to be a mostly off-leash dog, and I’m so grateful he did because I knew nothing about dogs. Now he’s the best dog in the world. The main point of contention is that I think the dog needs 2 45-minute walks per day, minimum, and he needs them right at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. So I feel bad about going out to dinner before we go home, even though said dog has a big yard and doggy door. My husband thinks he’s just fine, thankyouverymuch. So we compromise by calling our neighbor and asking her to let the dog play with her dog, which she loves.

    Also: Get an adult dog, if you’ve never had a dog before. The shelters are full of them. They are easier to train and eager to please (caveat for dogs that have been neglected or abused: they take special care and love). I swear my dog is especially adoring and wonderful because he sat in a shelter for 7 months.

    • Gina

      Last part came out wrong: My dog is especially adoring and wonderful because he knows we rescued him, and he rescued us, and there’s that mutual adoration between us.

    • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

      Not to be a downer, but I just want to say (to all dog-owners, I have this conversation A LOT): having a dog who has great off-leash manners is amazing, but please always obey the leash laws in your area when outside your own space.

      Our dog was attacked on New Year’s by another owner’s two unleashed dogs, and he’s now permanently blind in his right eye, because another person didn’t take care to make sure their animals were properly kept in their own yard. And now we’re trying to retrain our dog to interact with other dogs, and have run into way too many owners who let their unleashed dogs run right up to us in designated “leash only” areas. Which is super dangerous when my dog can pull twice my body weight like nothing, and who’s pretty sure all other dogs are the devil.

      • Gina

        Totally understand, and I’m sorry you had a bad experience. It is usually people who don’t take care of their dogs *at all* and let them run wild that give off-leash dogs a bad name.

        Luckily, we live in a rural, mountain area where all dogs in the neighborhood are off-leash and well-socialized and it’s perfectly legal. Off-leash TRAINED dogs are actually much better socialized then dogs that are only ever on leash. There’s a lot of research on why pulling your dog away when it meets other on-leash dogs teaches them that you think other dogs should be avoided and then teaches them to be aggressive.

        Obviously, in cities, that’s not possible. And there are areas where people get dogs for “protection”–or just neglect them– and they become aggressive. If there was ever a dog like that in my neighborhood, I’m sure I would feel very strongly that it should be always confined. I am very fortunate to be where I am. Similarly, I wouldn’t take my dog outside of my neighborhood off-leash because I don’t know what we will run into.

        • Emily

          I understand the concept behind “Off-leash TRAINED dogs are actually much better socialized then dogs that are only ever on leash.” Fight or flight- take away flight (by putting a dog on a leash) and all that is left is fight.

          However, I also live in a rural, mountain community and I have a dog that does not do well with other dogs (she was poorly socialized before she came to me). Obviously, I always keep her on a leash but other peoples’ off-leash dogs running up to her is a major problem. There’s not a lot I can do when my dog is on-leash but the off-leash dog wants to be in her face, other than yell at the owner to control their dog.

          I guess my point is: please everyone (I’m not trying to pick on Gina), I’m certain that your dog is the friendliest dog in the world, but don’t assume that other dogs (especially leashed dogs) are. Also, an unfriendly dog doesn’t mean the owner is a bad owner; as in my case, I adopted an adult dog who had been poorly socialized (and we’ve done a lot of remedial work… she is actually much better now).

          • Gina

            Agreed. That’s why my dog is trained to the point where I keep him by my side if we see an on-leash dog and he will not approach that dog without my permission.

            I guess getting to the point with an off-leash dog that you can control them is what we are getting at here. I wouldn’t let my dog be off leash if he went up to other dogs without my permission. And like you said, we all start at different places with our dogs and I was lucky. I’m so sorry if I implied that just because a dog is aggressive, it’s the owner’s fault. If a dog is aggressive and the owner doesn’t control it, it’s the owner’s fault.

          • Emily

            You didn’t imply that; I’m just overly sensitive because I have done SO MUCH work with my dog and many people don’t get that.

            It sounds like you have a true understanding of the level of training a dog has to reach to be off-leash… unfortunately I run into many people whose dogs will respond to commands perhaps 50% of the time (when the owner is more interesting to the dog than the rabbit/elk/deer/other dog) and the owner feels the dog is trained.

            “If a dog is aggressive and the owner doesn’t control it, it’s the owner’s fault.” This is true, and owners like myself who know their dogs will have issues can control the dog with gentle leaders, leashes, managing the situation (I would never take her to a dog park) etc. Off-leash dogs need to be just as controlled.

            Thank you for your high level of training and awareness!

          • Gina

            Ha, I know exactly what kind of dogs you mean. And thank YOU for not giving up on your pup!

          • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

            good to hear you have done so much work with your dog…that’s how we are. Our dog is a problem child. She has many “quirks” – we seriously think she has neurological damage- things don’t seem to really connect in her brain. She’s five now and has made leaps and bounds but she’s still HER. For us, it’s unfortunately about management a lot of the time. It’s heartbreaking because her soul is so sweet but she’s always stressed and anxious and on the defense. We’ve even had trainers say she is untrainable (and I mean, awesome legit behaviorists) because of her unpredictable qualities. But yeah, we have done so much work, and our life isn’t easy, but she’s our girl and that’s what you do.

          • Emily

            I’m sorry to hear that about your dog; it is heartbreaking. A friend of mine has a dog with a seizure disorder… lots of seizures! The dog is on a ton of medicine and a special diet and everything, but still has breakthrough seizures. It’s sad. But you are right, life isn’t easy, and that’s what you do. I’m glad your girl has you.

          • ktmarie

            This is exactly our problem. We’ve run across people who assume because their dog is friendly/trained they can go off-leash but it’s OUR dog who causes problems if they run up to him. Please people, obey leash laws regardless of your dog’s behavior

          • Emily

            I’ve read about systems where the dog wears a bandana or you tie a certain colored ribbon to its leash to indicate issues: fear aggression, etc. I wish a system like that would become recognized. Here’s a link to one article: http://www.examiner.com/article/leashes-offer-warnings-for-the-not-so-social-dogs

          • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

            I’ve seen those! I think that’s awesome. I want that for my dog. Dogs are animals, and it’s also not okay for everyone to just walk up and assume they can assertively pet the dogs’ head without letting the dog sniff him/her, and all that. Not every dog is obsessed with every human…Sometimes people come up to us and are like “is she friendly?” and I’m like “um, yessss…if you do the proper thing and don’t startle her and let her sniff you first and meet her like a regular being- but if you want to bombard her to put your hands all over her and she has no idea who you are, then no.”

          • Alison O

            Yes, my new neighbor has a Boxer who is friendly in general, to people and dogs, but when she’s on a leash, at least with her female owner–I haven’t encountered the same experience with the male owner; not that it’s always a gender thing, but in their family I think he’s the alpha owner–she gets aggressive if your dog approaches. I guess it’s something like she feels unsafe that she’s tied up and couldn’t escape if need be? who knows

          • Marta

            So true! My dog is fine with other dogs if he has a chance to get to know them properly, but if a strange dog runs up on him and gets in his face, he will fight, and he usually wins :/ and THEN people have had the nerve to be upset their dog got hurt because it ran up on us minding our own business.

      • Gina

        I forgot to mention– my dog has been attacked as well, nowhere near as bad as yours, but it was horrifying, of course. When it happened he was on leash. So were the dogs that attacked him, his owners did nothing to stop them, and did nothing to pull them away as I tried to pull away. They were just used to their dogs being aggressive, I guess. It happened in a city park. I had to kick the dogs to get them off him–he was so shocked that other dogs would be aggressive that he literally just stood there.

        It is never the dog’s fault; it is always the owner’s fault.

        • Emily

          What a horrible experience! That is ridiculous.

      • anonpsu

        Yup. My dog gets attacked about 2x per year by large, off-leash dogs. My rule is that if you cannot stop your dog from running mid-chase, it shouldn’t be off the leash in a public area. I finally had to resort to really raising my voice and flipping out on someone last time it happened. My dog is completely anti-social around a lot of dogs because she’s been attacked so many times starting as a puppy.

    • MC

      I am a HUGE fan of adopting adult cats/dogs. The adult pets that we’ve had in my family have all been amazing, and are generally a lot easier to integrate into your life than a new puppy/kitty at the beginning. And there are so, so many in shelters.

      (I do know people that have good reasons for adopting puppies/kittens, and they are adorable, but adult animals need forever homes, too!)

      • Eenie

        Yes! My favorite part about adopting grown animals (my cats were both 2.5 years) is that their personalities are already solidified. My cats act almost exactly the same as in the shelter, besides acting like they own the place (community cat room, both kept their heads down). With a kitten or puppy you are rolling the dice. You have a little control, but they can grow up to be very different.

    • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

      YES to adopting an adult doggy!!!!

    • Alison O

      Just chiming in to strongly support adopting older animals, particularly dogs!

      They are seen as less ‘desirable’ by many people for various reasons, but I have to say in my experience it can have major advantages. ALREADY POTTY-TRAINED, Y’ALL, ALREADY POTTY TRAINED! (And otherwise socialized, you know their basic temperament, etc.) I find kittens and puppies to be adorable but really, often a LOT of work and fairly difficult to manage well if you work away from home full-time. The shelter estimated that my dog was about 4 years old when I got him, and I have still developed a bond with him like with animals I have raised from infancy, and I have taught him a lot of new tricks…literally.

      Also, older animals are cheaper to adopt. And, with shelter mutt puppies, you don’t really know what you’re getting. My friend wanted a pitbull, a regular sort of mid-sized pitbull; well, the pit-looking puppy they got ended up being well over 100 pounds. Turns out it’s some Japanese ceremonial fighting dog, and they are banned in many countries. It was like inviting another adult person to live in their 300 sq-ft NYC apartment with them. Also made training/management that much more difficult because he is just so powerful.

  • leafygreen

    Allergies, and assumptions about future pet adoptions.

    I have always lived with at least one cat. When we moved in together, my cat came with me (I’ve had my current cat for 15 years). My boyfriend was okay with that, and he loves her and he’s really nice to her…but he fights a constant, quiet battle with a cat allergy that I don’t really have a good handle on the severity of because he’s so polite about it.

    A few months ago, he got some of her saliva in his eye (she loves to shake her head while she’s drooling…ew) and his eye got really red and itchy from it. As it turns out, most people who are allergic to cats are allergic to something specifically in their saliva, so this was about the worst thing that could have happened for his allergies. I said I was sorry she caused such a bad reaction, and he said something like “well not to be morbid, but she won’t live forever.”

    We had been together 5 years at that point and we had never discussed my assumption that I would always have a cat vs. his assumption that my current cat was The Last Cat (kinda funny especially since my cat had been living with me that entire time). We had an unpleasant, teary talk about it. I was surprised he didn’t know I wanted to keep having cats, and he was surprised by how much I cried at the very thought of not having a cat for the rest of my life.

    I’m sure we’ll talk about it again, but I am glad we addressed it before it became completely necessary.

    • laurasmash

      For us, I’m the one with the allergy (more severe with dogs but also cats) and I had cats growing up. Now that I live in dry California and don’t have pets, I no longer have a daily allergy struggle. Like, I don’t even have to carry around handfuls of kleenex anymore unless I have a cold! Fiance would love a pet (he likes dogs and cats), and I love cats, but I just can’t imagine going back to having allergies all. the. time.
      We are both ambivalent about kids, but he really wants a pet and I really don’t. He uses the “test run for kids” argument, and I’m in the “I’d rather put the effort in for a kid than a pet” camp. Maybe a goldfish?

      • leafygreen

        Yeah, the “test run for kids” argument doesn’t work so well if you’re not that into the idea of a pet in the first place, and it’s probably not fair to the pet (even a fish). Maybe a needy plant?

        On the allergies front, I came to the conclusion that I would be willing to not get another cat, but I want something cuddly. I am unwilling to go completely petless, and I’m really not into fish or birds or reptiles. After seeing how upset thinking about not having a cat made me, he’s
        pretty sure I’m gonna end up getting a cat regardless…but I would like us to both be happy. We will probably look further into less allergenic cats when it becomes more relevant (my old lady cat is still going strong at the moment).

  • Amy March

    I’m not at all sold on the idea that we need to discuss these plans in advance. I have no clue what I’d do if my beloved cat needed a transplant, or if I had a really sick kid, or if my spouse wound up in jail. For me, marriage is a statement of faith that we will figure it out together in a way that works for us.

  • Guest

    I guess in some ways I got lucky, I came into the relationship with my cat and before he had met my parents or we’d talked about dating officially I laid down the law: Love me, love my cat. If the two of you have problems, you go, if I need to sell an organ to make her better I will and if you have a problem with it you can leave and never look back because I’ve had her since I was fifteen and that kinda mileage trumps newcomers any day. Fortunately for me, the dude was down with my cat, but I think it was really helpful that I laid it all out on the line from the get-go. If you feel passionately about something like that, get the discussion out of the way sooner rather than later.

    Another anecdote though, to show that even the best kinds of discussions may not reflect real life action: During undergrad I took a methodology class and looked at the way people relate to their animals financially. I had my dad fill out the survey. For the question “how much would you be willing to spend on a pet’s vet bill?” he selected the lowest amount (“>$100″). Several months before that the family dog needed extensive surgery, reaching the thousand dollar range. Despite posturing about how stupid people who spend a lot of money on their animals are, when it came down to it he was willing to go that extra mile to extend an old dog’s life and comfort because of the personal attachment they had developed over the years

  • Laura

    Looking for some wisdom here.

    My husband wants to get a dog. He really, really badly wants to get a dog. I, on the other hand, don’t see how the downsides of getting a dog (e.g., not being able to take spontaneous trips sans dogs, daily walks, even simple things like letting it outside multiple times per day) make sense at this point in our lives. He works a fairly regular 9-5ish schedule, whereas I am a grad student who has very, very long hours depending on the season. He also travels extensively for two months out of the year, which means I would be primary pet owner during that time (which is in the fall, typically the busiest time of my school year).

    We’ve gone over this conversation a million times, but I just don’t see my perspective changing in the next couple of years. I don’t particularly like dogs, I’m not interested in the effort needed to train dogs, and I don’t want to sacrifice our current lifestyle (not to mention $$$) for a pet that requires significant care.

    I think I’m being stuck because there’s no good compromise here. Sure, we could compromise on the type of dog, who takes care of it, how it’s trained, etc. But the fundamental question is dog: yes or no? And while there’s a ton of room for compromise on the “yes” side of that argument, it eventually comes down to a binary decision. There isn’t really a spectrum of views here.

    And just a note, I’m not a dog person. I am, however, a cat person and have resisted the urge to get a cat because even that seems like a fair amount of work/commitment at this point. In 3-4 years, when I’m done with my Ph.D., pets seem reasonable. But my husband has BAD doggie fever right now. Thoughts or advice?

    • Ang

      Find someone who is in your similar situation/social circle, but has a dog – and offer up your husband to dog sit (or get your husband to make the offer himself, whatever works!) The guy who watches our dogs has actually called us up on occasion and asked if we need to go out of town anytime soon because he needs some dog time.

      You can be picky about what dog you let into your life, and you can do it for short periods of time, all while giving you husband some ‘dog time’ and keeping your peace of mind.

      Caution: It is possible this might also stoke the doggie fever. But it might curb it too. And it might make you realize that maybe the right dog wouldn’t be so bad?

      Good luck!

      • Emily

        I agree with this. You might also look into the cost of doggie daycare and boarding in your area and discuss with your husband if he is willing to cover those things during his traveling. It really isn’t fair to the dog to be home alone all day, plus it leads to behavior problems-accidents, house being torn up, etc.

      • MC

        In a similar vein, he could volunteer at an animal shelter! Those dogs need all the love and attention they can get, and it can be a good way to figure out what dog breeds, temperaments, etc. he prefers. My mom had my brother and I volunteer at a shelter for a couple of years when we were in middle/high school and it was a great experience, and gave me a lot of exposure to how hard it is to care for animals and the different problems that can arise (health, temperament, etc.)

        Again, might stoke the doggie fever, but also might be a great solution. I know our hometown animal shelter didn’t let volunteers adopt for the first year of volunteering (because it’s really hard to resist adopting every animal that you love, which in the long run isn’t great.)

    • Lauren from NH

      Cats and dogs are very different as you are clearly aware, but any chance getting a cat instead is worth a second look? If your hubby is looking for someone to play with, younger cats can be very playful and fun. I would tend to agree with you that based on your circumstances a new dog would invite a lot of stress and strain on your current lifestyle. Maybe another option would be an older dog, minimal training needed, mellow temperament. Or maybe you just need to wait, which is a bummer but may work out for the best in the long run.

      • phdiva

        I completely agree about considering a cat. We have two cats and a dog, and the cats are much less work and MUCH easier to find a sitter for when we go away. Cats can be super social, go for walks, play fetch, learn tricks, snuggle… lots of the great things dogs do, but much cleaner, easier, and cheaper. And I’m convinced the right cat can win over the fiercest “dog person.” ;)

        • Lawyerette510

          Yep, our cat doesn’t go for walks, but only because we decided that our dog still needed his alone time (he was 12 when we got the cat, and he likes his space) but she plays fetch with her toys, comes when called, and I’m getting ready to start some other tricks with her. Plus, when we want to go somewhere it’s much easier to have someone care for her, especially considering we have one of those auto-cleaning litter boxes so whoever is watching the cat just has to feed her, water her and play with her.

        • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.ca/ Jenny/Adventures Along the Way

          I was won over by the right cat. And I didn’t even like cats before that. I was a dog person, but now I am TOTALLY a cat person and not a dog person.

        • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.ca/ Jenny/Adventures Along the Way

          And occassionally I slip up and call my cat a dog, since his temperment is rather dog-like.

      • laurasmash

        I’m really obsessed with savannah cats. They are huge and people say they are sort of like dogs – they are loyal and will follow you around or play fetch and go for walks on a leash. Also they are gorgeous. Maybe a good compromise?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savannah_cat

        • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

          Maine Coons and Ragdoll type cats are also good “dog-like” cats. We unknowingly got Cooper, our Maine Coon cat (ad for free kittens in the paper, then he became enormous) and he’s like a dog that doesn’t really listen. He greets us when we come home and loves to cuddle.

          • MC

            Maine Coons!!!!! Our Maine Coon mix is amazing, and literally everyone that has ever met him loves him, and he loves humans.

          • Lauren from NH

            My fuzzy pictured above is a mix Maine Coon. He catches flies like a boss! He is fluffy and sweet and crazy athletic! Oh and chatty, but that’s must come from some where else because they aren’t known for that.

          • Kara

            Yay for Maine Coons! Norwegian Forest cats are great too! Just imagine a Maine Coon with a longer tail and a more chill personality. We have a Maine Coon mix and a Norwegian Forest cat, and they love to fetch and follow!

    • Kaytlin

      I would also say that I had real severe doggie fever for about 7 years before we got our pup. And I would find myself searching adoption websites but I knew that what I wanted and what would be in the best interest of the pup that I was going to adopt would be at odds. Perhaps framing it in that way: what is fair to the dog is to have one or two committed owners that are available to be there for the dog to provide consistency. Right now, the environment wouldn’t be fair for the dog. Maybe later, when you are both ready and willing, the dog you get will be much happier and as a result so will the both of you.

    • Bets

      Maybe a question for your husband is: if he were single and had the same job where he had to travel for two months a year, would he still get a dog? Would he be interested in having a dog that’s primarily his responsibility, including arranging for a dog sitter when he goes away? If yes, maybe that’s a plan. If not, then it seems like it’s fair to ask him to wait 3-4 years when you’re ready to be pet parent.

    • Acres_Wild

      This is exactly how I felt, although we already had the two cats I had adopted before we were dating. They’re pretty independent though. I eventually gave in, and after a semi-rough initial stage (wherein the dog pooped on the carpet of our rental – a lot – because of a very expensive unforeseen illness) I love the dog to pieces now.

      If you do get a dog, be prepared to second-guess the decision a LOT at first, because it really is a big commitment. But you get used to it. The dog will sleep through the night soon enough, and doggy daycare/friends who love dogs are a godsend. Also, we adopted a puppy, and if we were to do it over again I might push harder for an older, calmer dog. Although I thought at the time it was going to be a huge lifestyle sacrifice, it wasn’t that bad after a month or two of adjustment.

    • Alice

      Have you thought about fostering? Lots of local shelters are always looking for foster parents. They provide food, toys, and vet care. You provide daily care and a home. You may have the responsibility of showing the dog to potential adopters. This might give you a test-drive of what having a dog would be like, how you will divide duties, etc., and you could see how you both feel about the arrangement. Plus, you’d be helping out local shelters.

      • Lawyerette510

        I was just going to write the same thing. Some shelters and groups even have “foster-for-a-day” programs where you take the dog for a day or weekend to give the foster family a break if they have to go out of town etc.

    • Whitney S.

      In some ways, I think this mirrors having kids. There won’t ever be an ABSOLUTE BEST time to get a pet. There are of course better or worse times, but it kind of sends you for a loop any which way. However, if you really in your heart of hearts don’t want one, don’t get one. Dogs are domesticated animals which attach to us naturally. To be neglected or re-homed is hard on them (not saying you would, but people do get in over their heads).

      If you really want to give it a fair shot and try to see about having a pup, I second the pet sitting experience. I would lend my pups in a heartbeat to someone on the fence about getting a dog. Also, if you DO decide to take the plunge, an older dog is the way to go for first timers. Also, any adoption group worth their salt will have TONS of questions about your lifestyle and expectations in order to try to fit you with the right dog. Really pick the foster parents brains about the pup to get a sense if they will be a good fit.

      • Lawyerette510

        Yes, an older dog, especially if it is coming out of a rescue organization where it is with a foster family so it’s behavioral quirks are already known is the way to go for first-time dog owners I think.

  • Kaytlin

    My partner and I adopted a pup a year after we were married, the day before we were moving (not on purpose, but sometimes with shelters, you can’t control those things) – we found out quickly that he was heartworm positive. I was unemployed, B was a full time student – but we knew that our only option was to fix our new family member. There were days when Frank, our new pup, was sick as a dog …err…you know what I mean, and he was plodding around the house having accidents and I was sobbing and calling my mom because B was working. We made it through and Frank is heartworm negative.

    Recently, when Frank got bit by another dog, there was no panicking, no sobbing into the phone to my mom, and only one, very calm phone call to B letting him know that we were heading to the vet.

    After I told my mom what had happened, she stated for the first time that she thought we might be okay having kids. We’ve learned how to communicate effectively and to discuss potentially serious health issues (dog bite needing stitches, a Prozac regimen, among other behavioral/anxiety issues) and what that means for our family. Because ultimately, our pup is our family. We love him like I imagine we might love a child – though I know that parents will say that I can’t possibly know (which is true).

    If anything, have a pet has only made me more confident in my choice of life-partner. He is a rock in times of crisis, even when those crises are something as simple as our dog not eating normally or as complex as mature heartworms. He has also shown a capacity to love selflessly – even when he was not nearly as excited about having a dog as I was. As we discuss the possibility of adding a child or another dog (or both) to our growing family, I am confident that while we may not have the right or best answers, we’ll work together to figure out what works best or what’s right for our family.

  • Guest

    My boyfriend has desperately wanted a dog ever since he left for college, so that was actually a topic of conversation on our very first date. I had three dogs myself growing up and was open to the idea but not obsessed. When we decided to live together, he moved into my apartment so we could save money and take our time finding a dog-friendly place. We started the Great Dog Search in early January, and a few things I think we did really well: 1) Work together to come up with both “do not want” and “would be nice” lists of characteristics. This helped ensure before we even opened Petfinder that we knew and could respect each others’ boundaries–I was not willing to get a “high energy” breed since we live in an apartment in a city but he wanted a dog that could go on hikes or camping adventures; adopting was important to both of us; we wanted a dog that could get along with other dogs OR cats so we can expand our menagerie; etc. 2) We’d opened a joint savings account and set up auto-deposit from each of our individual bank accounts. The intent was to save for vacations, but it quickly became the vet bill fund after discovering pet insurance wouldn’t help (most of our pup’s expenses were for preexisting issues). 3) We were able to build a community of professionals, trainers, friends, neighbors, and PEOPLE LIKE US–i.e. fellow adult-rescue-dog owners–that we could turn to for advice. There is nothing so disheartening as having your dog STILL not reliably come when called in obedience class, only to have the <1yr old puppy next to you do it perfectly every time, making you feel like an absolute failure as a dog owner and frustrated to tears with your dog. Seriously, FIND YOUR CLAN. And lastly 4) Give yourself 6 months. The first three sucked huge hairy spider legs, 4 was a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, and 5-6 were pretty ok. We're now at the end of month 6 and pup is now a member of the family I look forward to coming home to after work.

    Her name is Josie :)

  • Alison

    We adopted our dog about a year ago and I have actually been surprised about how little work it has been. It helps that we did not get a puppy – he was already about a year and a half when we got him. He’s crate trained and miraculously has NEVER peed or pooped in the house. We have a pretty big, fenced-in yard, which helps. It also helps that we have a ton of family and friends who are dog people but do not currently have dogs, and are excited to dog-sit should we ever leave town. But mostly we just feed and walk him twice a day and then get ALL THE CUDDLES EVER. I know that at some point he’s likely to develop health issues, but right now the reward to effort ratio is crazy.

    • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

      our dog is part alien, so i wouldn’t say she is THAT easy, but we got ours at 6-8 months- a rescue- and it has been a godsend how EASY she was as far as dog stuff- peeing, walking, sitting…she too was miraculously house trained and has only gone to the bathroom in the house when she was sick. it’s been amazing! (and that is so different from the dog I grew up with, who my parents still have, who still hasn’t gotten the whole potty training thing down at age 13)

  • Anna Earnest

    My boyfriend has desperately wanted a dog ever since he left for college, so that was actually a topic of conversation on our very first date. I had three dogs myself growing up and was open to the idea but not obsessed. When we decided to live together, he moved into my apartment so we could save money and take our time finding a dog-friendly place. We started the Great Dog Search in early January, and a few things I think we did really well: 1) Work together to come up with both “do not want” and “would be nice” lists of characteristics. This helped ensure before we even opened Petfinder that we knew and could respect each others’ boundaries–I was not willing to get a “high energy” breed since we live in an apartment in a city but he wanted a dog that could go on hikes or camping adventures; adopting was important to both of us; we wanted a dog that could get along with other dogs OR cats so we can expand our menagerie; etc. 2) We’d opened a joint savings account and set up auto-deposit from each of our individual bank accounts. The intent was to save for vacations, but it quickly became the vet bill fund after discovering pet insurance wouldn’t help (most of our pup’s expenses were for preexisting issues). 3) We were able to build a community of professionals, trainers, friends, neighbors, and PEOPLE LIKE US–i.e. fellow adult-rescue-dog owners–that we could turn to for advice. There is nothing so disheartening as having your dog STILL not reliably come when called in obedience class, only to have the <1yr old puppy next to you do it perfectly every time, making you feel like an absolute failure as a dog owner and frustrated to tears with your dog. Seriously, FIND YOUR CLAN. And lastly 4) Give yourself 6 months. The first three sucked huge hairy spider legs, 4 was a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, and 5-6 were pretty ok. We're now at the end of month 6 and pup is now a member of the family I look forward to coming home to after work.

    Her name is Josie :) https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=DCF81EA727176086!1647&authkey=!AHTOzvAoAgsCd3g&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

    • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

      Awww. My dog Topher is a one eyed rescue too! (Though he became one eyed after we got him, sad story over here: http://gooddogsco.com/2014/01/dog-attack/)

      • Anna Earnest

        Oh man–Topher is adorable! We think Josie is part shar-pei, part boxer, and her squishy face definitely looks a lot like Topher’s. (P.s. You should put a disclaimer on your blog to not read at work otherwise you might start crying at your desk causing your coworkers to stare ;)).

  • celinad6

    We got Toussaint a year into our relationship when he was 7 weeks old- almost 9 years ago. Although, it was my decision to get a dog, he’s always been considered ‘our’ dog (and the dog of my roommate and study partners that came over to the house- I got him when I was a junior in college). It probably wasn’t the best idea to get a dog while in college, especially considering both of us had plans to go to graduate school in different cities, but I’m stubborn and he was cute. Toussaint lived with a cousin and my sister while we were in our respective Master’s programs. Luckily that lasted only 1.5 years. He’s been with us ever since.

    Our responsibilities for caring for Toussaint was probably 65% me, 35% him. We both take him out for walks but I also take him to the dog park and schedule vet’s appointments. The arrangement was fine. Then…Toussaint became paralyzed 2.5 years ago. (Disk rupture or FCE). FML!! The first few months of that were hell. I didn’t want to put him down, but manfriend did. We didn’t argue about it, but in order for me to keep Toussaint I had to figure out how to cope with a lot: loss of bladder and bowel control, unable to walk, unable to have free reign of the house. With a lot of prayer and a lot of Googling, our living situation is back to normal and we have a good routine. I think I’m an expert in caring for paralyzed dogs now.

    My baby:

    • Alice

      What a beautiful boy you’ve got there!

      • celinad6

        Thanks! I call him the Brad Pitt of Pit Bulls. ;-)

    • Lawyerette510

      Toussaint! I want to cuddle his face! Such a cutie, and such a nice bow-tie!

      • celinad6

        Thanks! He knows he’s cute too. He totally uses that face to get his way.

    • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

      What a cute face! If you ever feel up for sharing that story, I’d love to run it over here: http://gooddogsco.com/

      • celinad6

        I’d love to! I was just thinking the other day that I need to share my knowledge with others who may be going through something similar. I’ll fill out the form on the submit your story link and we can go from there.

    • Kate

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience. My fiance’s dog is in poor health these days (a combination of chronic and emergent problems), and it is tearing our partnership apart. Your story is giving me hope that we can get through this time, and I need and appreciate that so much today.

      • celinad6

        Kate, you are so welcome. I honestly thought that it would end our relationship, since both of us were on completely different pages. I had grown up with animals all my life (other dogs, hamsters, dwarf bunny, hermit crab cuz #imweird) and he hadn’t. So although I was completely devastated by the situation, I knew there had to be a way to make this work. He, on the other hand, didn’t want to be bothered. I mean, it’s true, women are more nurturing than men. I figured out pretty much everything and do a good 90% of taking care of Toussaint. But you know what? He’s picked up his share in other areas, e.g. cleaning and cooking, to accommodate. It’s working out just fine.

        You all just have to figure out what works. All the best.

  • Miss May

    Not to be depressing, but… I wish we had discussed what would happen to our fur babies if we parted ways. When we got them, I thought we would never break up. But we did. And dealing with What To Do About The Cats has been the hardest part. No one wants to talk about it. But.

    • Rachelle

      Yeah, that was one of the first conversations we had before adopting because as hard as it is to imagine life without him, being separated from my dog that did nothing wrong and loves both of us? UGH. Originally the “dog” we eventually got would have been his, but I picked out Travis and before he came home we decided he was mine should anything ever happen.
      I’m sorry for what you’re going through and hope you can work out some sort of custody agreement that works for both of you!

    • Eenie

      This is so hard! We adopted a cat while living together and then I had to move away for my new job. He wanted to let me take the cat, but my solution was to adopt a second one! They are best of friends now since we did it a little early and can’t wait to be reunited! I can’t imagine making that decision of who would keep them forever, and I bet my thoughts would depend on the time and my mindset.

  • whatdeesays

    A month ago, my husband and I brought home Murphy, a 3 month old Russian Blue kitten. We had searched and waited for months to find this kitten because the breed is hypoallergenic, and my husband has allergies.

    It was truly love and first sight. We both grew up with pets, but bringing home our first baby made me happier than I ever imagined. He was the sweetest, most curious, most darling thing in the world.

    Three days after he came home, he got sick. We thought his fever was just a flash in the pan, but over the next week he got worse and worse, eventually becoming paralyzed from a brain infection.

    We put him in the hospital, and my husband went out of town for a work trip. We hoped and prayed and paid for every sliver of hope, but after 5 days without improvement, watching his tiny body get skinnier and skinnier, watching his mental anguish and confusion, we decided to put him to sleep.

    I would never have imagined the grief we feel. He made our house a home, and losing him has been one of the hardest times of my life. It is always hard to lose a pet, but a tiny kitten who we had so many hopes and dreams and plans for, is truly devastating.

    I am lucky to have my husband to grieve together and remember together. We are both dealing with our sadness in different ways, but we have patience and understanding in spades. It’s made me think a lot about marriage, about what it means to share a life. Marriage is about less our relationship to each other, and more about our journey through life. It is about two individuals, who choose to walk the same path and hold each other’s hand when we hit the bumps and boulders.

    • MC

      Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss. Our cat is the center of our lives and I know we will be devastated when we lose him. Hope you can find another furry family member when you’re ready.

    • Jules

      Oh, losing a pet is heartbreaking :( I’m so sorry. Our kitten came home with a bad kitten cold and luckily was able to recover. We ALMOST got a Russian Blue, but during the time it took us to decide whether we really wanted a cat or not, another couple got her.

  • Amanda L

    We’d had dogs before (both unfortunately passed since we got married in 2012), but when we adopted our new black lab mixes, we did not know what we were in for. They chew EVERYTHING (pillows, wooden knick-knacks, picture frames, remote controls, cell phones, blankets, dog beds, comforters, the list goes on and on. And we’ve only had them for seven weeks).

    Anyway, I think the important thing is how we talk about things NOW, not necessarily before we got them. We knew we’d keep them as healthy as we possibly could (we spent well over $12k on our last dog’s cancer treatments). We needed to figure out how to deal with a new routine (one of us HAS to get up with them at 5:20 every morning, or they will eat something in our bedroom), how to deal with the disappointment of another pillow ruined, how to give each other the space to be momentarily upset, and then move on. It’s taught us to communicate better, not to assume, and has opened our hearts to love a little more. Because come on… look at these faces!

    http://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaupload/tmp/723db5c12a803af6e9199a49af1ea6689b901d7fccbc92e62e57a7cf/original.jpg?w=128&h=128

  • NicoleT

    I have a little dwarf bunny. My sister was the one who got her originally, but she ended up being mine (since I take care of her all the time). Now that my FH is here, she is his bunny as well. He’ll pet her occasionally, but she doesn’t mean as much to him because she’s “not a dog”. But, out of having my FH and bunny together, I have learned that he will take care of and appreciate anything I love *because* I love it. And that is worth a heck of a lot to me. (And he even says goodnight to the bunny now :) Her name is Mr. Nibbles)

    • Lawyerette510

      Mr. Nibbles! So cute!

  • Kara

    Oh man, I love this!

    My husband and I have 6 cats and 1 giant German Shepherd (in a house with a fenced in back yard). I’ll preface this with the fact that all of our pets are neutered/spayed and vaccinated to the fullest extent every year (they also go to the vet whenever anything happens/get sick). I never had pets growing up because my dad is allergic to cats and dogs. My husband grew up with cats.

    After graduating from University, one of my friends was moving home to Saudi Arabia and couldn’t take is cat, so cat # 1 was adopted. Then a year later, another friend was moving so cat # 2 became mine. After getting married, my husband wanted to get a kitten because well, we both loved cats, so we got a 2 for 1 kitten special at the shelter…so there were cats #3 and #4. Then, we started trapping, neutering/spraying, and releasing the feral cats in our apartment complex. One day this tiny kitten showed up, so we trapped her (fixed her, etc,) so we then had 5 cats in our apartment. About a year later, one of the feral cats we had fixed (and thought she had vacated the property) returned. So we took her in. Ta da, 6 cats. We had the 6th cat tested and found out she had feline leukemia, so she got the guest bedroom all to herself.

    During this time, we had also taken 2 of the feral cats that we had TNR’d to the Emergency Vet hospital ($$$) to try to save their lives. Unfortunately, the only humane thing we could do was put them to sleep–one had drunken antifreeze, the other had an infection that was about to kill him. We both bawled our eyes out, and these weren’t even “our” cats.

    Then about 10 days before we moved into our house, we adopted our adult German Shepherd. He was 95 lbs at the time, but we loved him and kept him from being put to sleep at the shelter (his last day was up, the day after we adopted him).

    Sadly, after having our 6th cat for about 6 months, we had to put her to sleep due to complications from her feline leukemia. Again, we both bawled, and mourned her. Then after time had passed, we adopted a new 6th cat.

    The past 7 months we fostered a stray dog from our neighborhood, and yay he got adopted 2 weeks ago!

    We’re always trying to decide whether or not to adopt another dog or cat because we do have the means to care for so many animals. Plus it helps that we don’t have kids.

    Yes, all this has meant more of our budget goes towards feeding and caring for our animals. Plus boarding a now, 110 lbs dog isn’t cheap. We have to plan for traveling in advance and figuring out who will take dog/cats to the vet, but overtime, we’ve just figured it out along the way.

    We wouldn’t have it any other way. We chose to have these animals, so we will responsibly care for them–financially, physically, emotionally, etc.

    • Alice

      Yay for GSDs! What wonderful (and sometimes sadly misunderstood or mishandled) dogs they are!

      • Kara

        We love our GSD so much, and we couldn’t believe how lucky we were to find an adult male that was already house trained, knew a few commands, and would not jump or lick people.

        We’ve been working with him the past 16 months to not think of the cats as squirrels, and to not chase them. Thankfully, just in the last few weeks, the cats and our dog have started figuring out how to act around each other. It’s a process.

        • Alice

          Ours is amazing with our cat, they even hang out on the bed together, which was sort of a stroke of luck since we introduced an adult cat to an adult dog… our guinea pigs have been more of a challenge, unfortunately. She doesn’t have much of a prey drive, and I really do think she just wants to get close enough to figure out what exactly they are… but a 94 pound dog and a 1 pound guinea pig just aren’t designed to hang out together.

          • Kara

            Aww that’s what where we’re hoping to get with our GSD and cats. One day, we want them to all be able to love on each other. However, I can image that the GSD and guinea pig situation is a little bit tougher.

    • Lindsey d.

      Good for you! My question, how do you deal with the litter/fur/smell of that many cats

      • Kara

        1st up: multiple litter boxes…like bare minimum 3…that must be cleaned at least 2 times a day (if not more). We like the new arm-n-hammer litter in the black box, it’s not as dusty. If we go out of town for a weekend or so, we always add extra boxes (put them in the bathtub to help with clean up on return)

        We also vacuum at least once a week, too…sometimes more, especially if we’re having guests.
        We put blankets on our fabric couches to help keep some fur from working into the couches, and then we vacuum the hell out of the couches.

        Last tip, put the plugin frebreeze things in the rooms with litter boxes. They don’t have to be super scented, but it does help :).

        • Lindsey d.

          Ooh, thanks for the litter tip. We have three cats and two boxes. The dust kills me! We are replacing our fabric couch with leather in hopes that will help with the fur on the furniture.

          • Kara

            We had a leather couch previously, and one cat decided to make it look like ostrich leather :). The leather is better for people with allergies for sure!

            Good luck!

    • MC

      I totally understand. My mom has always had pets, and at one point she had 4 dogs and 3 cats, and even moved halfway across the US with them! It made our house a little hectic growing up, but I can’t imagine my mom not having all the pets she can manage, because she is so loving toward them and they make her so happy.

      • Kara

        Thanks MC…they’re definitely a source of joy and chaos :).

        Glad to hear your mom enjoys the menagerie too!

  • Alice

    Maple and Matt were a package deal. He got her as a nine week old puppy, and we met just after her first birthday. I am an animal lover and vet-in-training, but we still have some different ideas about our pets. I came with two guinea pigs, which was a challenge when we moved the pets (and ourselves) in together. We also got a cat a few months later. Maple is a German Shepherd, so she has a big, excitable personality with lots of energy. This fits our lifestyle, since we love hiking, but can be a challenge when we need to go away and have others watch her, etc (she usually just comes with us, and we are lucky that she travels well).

    She doesn’t have the manners I wish she did, but I was well aware of what I was getting into. We have made some compromises there (like not letting her eat off plates at the dinner table, ahem). Our newest big challenge is moving everyone from NC to Scotland this autumn. It will be scary, and a huge expense, but our pets are such a part of our lives that we couldn’t imagine doing anyhing else.

    I do worry about down the road. Someday someone will get sick, and as a vet I will be the one expected to fix things. Not sure how we will deal with that emotionally, especially as Matt is also so, so attached to them all. He always jokes that I’ll have to make sure Maple lives to at least thirty.

  • Alison O

    If you’re not the type to shy away from pre-nup kinds of conversations, I would recommend something along those lines when you get a pet. It’s helpful to avoid custody battles if, God forbid, the relationship goes to the dogs. Pun so very much intended.

    Aside from that, I think for me the most important advice about pet ownership would apply to one person owning a pet as much as it would to someone in a relationship. And on the flip side, I sorta think whatever the strengths and weaknesses are of your relationship are in general, those will apply and perhaps be particularly illuminated by pet ownership depending on what kinds of challenges you face.

    For the general pet advice, I think it’s most critical to be honest with yourself about your willingness and ability to change your lifestyle for a pet, if necessary, and do a lot of research to find what kind of animal/breed would be the best fit. Be honest about whether you can afford it. (If you don’t want to compare it to a child, compare it to a car–you know it will need ongoing maintenance, sometimes with big issues unexpectedly popping up, but if you depend on it you should be ready for that.)

    And also some thoughts about small dogs that I really appreciate now that I have one but that might not jump out to other people:
    – the day-to-day expenses are lower bc they eat so much less food than a large dog. Some friends’ dogs literally eat the same amount in a day that my dog would eat over 1-2 weeks.
    – I can bring my little dude on an airplane under the seat in front of me. It’s absurdly expensive considering he’s treated like my one free carry-on would be, but hey, at least it’s possible and it’s been a huge help on many occasions. And he rides in the subway sleeping in my big purse.
    – not having to pick up huge smelly poops for the win! My 8 lb dude does like 2 tiny turds that are practically dry and odorless as soon as they touch the ground. I’m not even kidding. When I see city dwellers having to pick up their dogs’ massive loads…that’s dedication right there.
    – note, little dogs tend to have worse teeth, and vet teeth cleanings/extractions are fairly expensive

  • Rachel

    I’ve always wanted a dog, and I always thought I would get one just as soon as I had the living/career situation to support one. But I also want kids and this (pretty funny) article really made me think twice about getting the dog first:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2013/07/kids_and_dogs_if_you_re_having_a_baby_do_not_get_a_puppy.html

    • lady brett

      i’m not saying you *should* get a dog (and i’m certainly not saying kids don’t change things), but…nothing in that article rang true to me, having 2 dogs first, and then kids with those two dogs. (of course, i also got a dog *way* before i had the living/career situation to support one; i may not be the advice you’re looking for. ;)

  • Bethany

    My wife had two dogs long before I ever came into the picture (both shelter mixes). She got the older one 13 years ago (as an almost 4 week old, who had been found nearly dead in an alley and brought to the local shelter – she had to bottle feed it for a long time and nurse it back to health!) and the younger one 6.5 years ago (at 6 months). The older one is great with other dogs, but the younger one was left in a backyard for the entire first six months of its life, with no housing/cover, and little interaction with anyone or anything. When she adopted him, they had labeled him an “escape artist.” She later learned this was code for “practically abandoned in a backyard and trying desperately to run away from the terror of being alone and/or beaten.” We know he got hit with newspaper/magazine wads, because when we get one out to kill flies, he runs away with his ears tucked behind his head. We’re also positive it was by a man, because he will not go near one (even after frequent and multiple visits, he will choose to stay away from the dude (but has no problem cozying up to the dude’s ladyfriend).

    Even with a lot (a lot, a lot) of training, he still can’t smell another dog without freaking out. He’s part Basenji, so he doesn’t bark, he lets out these really weird screams (not whines, dogs screams). He also can’t see a bird, squirrel, cat, or UPS hand truck without screaming. Let’s face it, sometimes at night he stares off into the wind that just blew past and starts to scream at what I can only imagine is the most terrifying ghost he’s ever seen.

    What’s interesting is that since I’ve come in to the picture, a lot about the dogs’ lives have changed (I think for the better… so does she, lol). We’ve switched the dogs to a gluten free, raw diet because I was positive the older dog’s itchiness and frequent ear infections were some sort of doggie celiac’s. Sure enough, within two months she was all cleared up and she hasn’t had an ear infection since. We also bought them both thundershirts and started easing them into it during non-scary times (the older one hides in my closet when she hears beeping noises that sound like a smoke detector… we don’t know why). Now we can put them on and they’ll sleep through an earthquake (well, they’ve never had to, but they PTFO really convincingly). We bought them ergonomic beds because the old one has bad hips from a car accident (she has pins in one side) and is getting arthritis… it took a little bit of convincing, but my wife finally “caved” when we found them for $20 at TJMaxx. And when we moved from a house with a backyard to a smaller apartment in NYC, I got gluten free training ‘treats’ to help ease them into leash walking (my wife had never leash walked them… ever… she always had a backyard and they were only ever on leash when she took them to and from the car to travel). The older one is a leash walking pro now, and the younger one… well, he learned new commands like “look,” “wait” (including waiting), and “slow down,” but (even though Cesar Milan would probably be pissed) I still have to pick him up and hush/rock him when he sees another dog (or a ghost-dog).

    Anyway, this was a long story. But I love my adopted dog-children and I wanted to share! :)

  • Bethany

    My wife had two dogs long before I ever came into the picture (both shelter mixes). She got the older one 13 years ago (as an almost 4 week old, who had been found nearly dead in an alley and brought to the local shelter – she had to bottle feed it for a long time and nurse it back to health!) and the younger one 6.5 years ago (at 6 months). I actually dogsat for her, as a friend favor, before we officially started dating.

    The older one is great with other dogs, but the younger one was left in a backyard for the entire first six months of its life, with no housing/cover, and little interaction with anyone or anything. When she adopted him, they had labeled him an “escape artist.” She later learned this was code for “practically abandoned in a backyard and trying desperately to run away from the terror of being alone and/or beaten.” We know he got hit with newspaper/magazine wads, because when we get one out to kill flies, he runs away with his ears tucked behind his head. We’re also positive it was by a man, because he will not go near one (even after frequent and multiple visits, he will choose to stay away from the dude (but has no problem cozying up to the dude’s ladyfriend).

    Even with a lot (a lot, a lot) of training, he still can’t smell another dog without freaking out. He’s part Basenji, so he doesn’t bark, he lets out these really weird screams (not whines, dogs screams). He also can’t see a bird, squirrel, cat, or UPS hand truck without screaming. Let’s face it, sometimes at night he stares off into the wind that just blew past and starts to scream at what I can only imagine is the most terrifying ghost he’s ever seen.

    What’s interesting is that since I’ve come in to the picture, a lot about the dogs’ lives have changed (I think for the better… so does she, lol). We’ve switched the dogs to a gluten free, raw diet because I was positive the older dog’s itchiness and frequent ear infections were some sort of doggie celiac’s. Sure enough, within two months she was all cleared up and she hasn’t had an ear infection since. We also bought them both thundershirts and started easing them into it during non-scary times (the older one hides in my closet when she hears beeping noises that sound like a smoke detector… we don’t know why). Now we can put them on and they’ll sleep through an earthquake (well, they’ve never had to, but they PTFO really convincingly). We bought them ergonomic beds because the old one has bad hips from a car accident (she has pins in one side) and is getting arthritis… it took a little bit of convincing, but my wife finally “caved” when we found them for $20 at TJMaxx. And when we moved from a house with a backyard to a smaller apartment in NYC, I got gluten free training ‘treats’ to help ease them into leash walking (my wife had never leash walked them… ever… she always had a backyard and they were only ever on leash when she took them to and from the car to travel). The older one is a leash walking pro now, and the younger one… well, he learned new commands like “look,” “wait” (including waiting), and “slow down,” but (even though Cesar Milan would probably be pissed) I still have to pick him up and hush/rock him when he sees another dog (or a ghost-dog).

    Anyway, this was a long story. But I love my adopted dog-children and I wanted to share! :)

    p.s. sorry for the repeat pictures… I can’t figure out how to delete them!

  • Bethany

    My wife had two dogs long before I ever came into the picture (both shelter mixes). She got the older one 13 years ago (as an almost 4 week old, who had been found nearly dead in an alley and brought to the local shelter – she had to bottle feed it for a long time and nurse it back to health!) and the younger one 6.5 years ago (at 6 months). I actually dogsat for her, as a friend favor, before we officially started dating.

    The older one is great with other dogs, but the younger one was left in a backyard for the entire first six months of its life, with no housing/cover, and little interaction with anyone or anything. When she adopted him, they had labeled him an “escape artist.” She later learned this was code for “practically abandoned in a backyard and trying desperately to run away from the terror of being alone and/or beaten.” We know he got hit with newspaper/magazine wads, because when we get one out to kill flies, he runs away with his ears tucked behind his head. We’re also positive it was by a man, because he will not go near one (even after frequent and multiple visits, he will choose to stay away from the dude (but has no problem cozying up to the dude’s ladyfriend).

    Even with a lot (a lot, a lot) of training, he still can’t smell another dog without freaking out. He’s part Basenji, so he doesn’t bark, he lets out these really weird screams (not whines, dogs screams). He also can’t see a bird, squirrel, cat, or UPS hand truck without screaming. Let’s face it, sometimes at night he stares off into the wind that just blew past and starts to scream at what I can only imagine is the most terrifying ghost he’s ever seen.

    What’s interesting is that since I’ve come in to the picture, a lot about the dogs’ lives have changed (I think for the better… so does she, lol). We’ve switched the dogs to a gluten free, raw diet because I was positive the older dog’s itchiness and frequent ear infections were some sort of doggie celiac’s. Sure enough, within two months she was all cleared up and she hasn’t had an ear infection since. We also bought them both thundershirts and started easing them into it during non-scary times (the older one hides in my closet when she hears beeping noises that sound like a smoke detector… we don’t know why). Now we can put them on and they’ll sleep through an earthquake (well, they’ve never had to, but they PTFO really convincingly). We bought them ergonomic beds because the old one has bad hips from a car accident (she has pins in one side) and is getting arthritis… it took a little bit of convincing, but my wife finally “caved” when we found them for $20 at TJMaxx. And when we moved from a house with a backyard to a smaller apartment in NYC, I got gluten free training ‘treats’ to help ease them into leash walking (my wife had never leash walked them… ever… she always had a backyard and they were only ever on leash when she took them to and from the car to travel). The older one is a leash walking pro now, and the younger one… well, he learned new commands like “look,” “wait” (including waiting), and “slow down,” but (even though Cesar Milan would probably be pissed) I still have to pick him up and hush/rock him when he sees another dog (or a ghost-dog).

    Anyway, this was a long story. But I love my adopted dog-children and I wanted to share! :)

    p.s. sorry if the pictures repeat.

  • Aj

    R came with Kinney – the sweetest one-eyed cat who is just a loveable butterball who is always hungry for food and cuddles. There are stereotypes about lesbians and pets (a friend once remarked “inside every lesbian is an animal hoarder”) and that may not be accurate but when R and I first lived together we had a housemate who also had a cat. Naturally, I wanted a cat of my very own. So R got me Emmett for Christmas. Emmett is an orange alpha male and not the loveable guy Kinney is. Still I adore his cool kid personality. We then moved to LA and in the midst of a dissertation meltdown, I foolishly suggested we look at pictures of kittens. We adopted Olivia that night. She had spent her entire life outdoors with a pack of other kittens. She remains skittish around people but ADORES Emmett and Kinney. Within a year, our friends moved to LA with their 2 dogs (which has since become 5) and, although we swore up and down we were “cat people,” we fell in love with dogs. Over brunch one day, our friends suggested we just go look at a rescue that was having an adoption fair. We brought Evelyn home that night. Raising a puppy was hard (much harder than cats) but rewarding in a much more tangible way. Two years later, we thought Ev could use a pal and went to look at dogs and adopted Harvey. We obviously don’t give a lot of thought before adopting (although we both agree our family is done growing). We do a ton of research after we bring home a new animal and have learned some things the hard way but isn’t that life even if you do research? We are lucky that our friends are all animal people and we trade caring for each other’s animals when needed. We adore our kids and travel with Evelyn and Harvey whenever possible (both are registered ESA). R does the majority of the care since she predominantly works from home and as a result the animals, especially the pups, are a little more bonded to her. It was heartbreaking when she was out of town.
    And for those keeping score at home: Kinney and Emmett are named after characters on Queer as Folk, Olivia is after Olivia Benson on SVU, Evelyn is after Evelyn Hooker, a psychologist whose research was instrumental in having homosexuality removed as a mental illness, and Harvey is obviously after Harvey Milk. Yep, we totally won being gay.

  • Christy

    When we had been living together for about a year, my boyfriend M (now fiancé) went w/ his best friend to look at puppies and came home w/ a Siberian husky puppy which was a huge surprise to me. This definitely took me a while to warm up to the puppy b/c I was not in a place where I wanted to take care of a dog at all. Flash forward 6 months and M’s friend had decided he couldn’t take care of a dog so we decide to adopt his husky also. Now we have two husky puppies that we never even really discussed getting that we have to train. Another six months later and our girl husky climbs under our fence, runs away and gets hit by a car. We got the call from animal control and rushed to the vet to be told that her leg and tail needed to be amputated and she also had a fracture in another leg. During this time we were devastated but both agreed that we would do whatever it took to make our baby healthy again. It really taught us a lot about how we are as caretakers, M is very hands on and patient and able to handle all of the gross tasks, which I realized that I’m not good at that at all but am really good at remembering meds, making appts, keeping us on track w/ paying the bills. M single-handedly taught our dog how to walk again. And now she is perfectly healthy! I love the dogs we have and wouldn’t change anything, but I would recommend having some of these harder conversations early on b/c you never know what might happen. And never surprise someone with a dog unless you know they are wanting one!!

  • Channa

    We hadn’t been planning on adopting a cat – it just happened. My sister was studying in the same city we live in, and found a friendly, hungry stray on her campus who clearly had no idea how to fend for himself in the wild (we are pretty sure he was dumped: he couldn’t hunt, but he was litter-trained) – maybe a year old, we’ll never know. I just couldn’t let that poor sweetie stay on the street or hand him off to the SPCA, so we took him in and he’s basically our baby now. He’s sensitive, moody, emotionally needy, very friendly to us but not to strangers (but he always wants to be around when we have visitors: he never hides, he just doesn’t let them pet him until he’s gotten to know them).

    Then my sister, having moved semi-permanently to the same city (which is in another country, by the way – we’re expats), adopted a sweet, slightly stupid black kitten. He was at our vet’s office when we walked by with her. His first home hadn’t worked out as the cats already there were beating him up, and black cats are still somewhat “taboo” in this culture – locals just don’t like them. So the little guy wasn’t getting any potential adopters when we saw him.

    Well, she just couldn’t do it – her studio was too small, his poo was too stinky, her downstairs neighbor too sensitive to sound (jumping, knocking things over, and he is a loud, vocal cat), and he needed more space and attention than she could give him.

    So, we took him too. Both had been neutered.

    Unfortunately, the two cats, Zhao Cai and Tiberius (招財 and 台幣 in Chinese) HATED each other. Like, hissing, fighting, screaming H.A.T.E.. Zhao Cai was all “GET OFF MY TERRITORY” and Tiberius was all “HODOR!” (I don’t think he hated Zhao Cai, just felt threatened by him. He really is the cat equivalent of Hodor). I remembered when my parents briefly had two male cats, also neutered, who hated each other. It was so bad that they eventually had to give the newer one away. They just couldn’t do it.

    I feared at first that we couldn’t, either – but we didn’t want to give up Tiberius, either. So we had to make some tough decisions. We found that cats who hate each other can be trained to tolerate, even like, each other with the proper steps, the first of which is to separate them for a time so they can smell each other’s scent but can’t see each other. Then you slowly introduce them until they don’t try to kill each other when they meet. We read that it would take “weeks”.

    It took months.

    We gave up our guest room, which became Tiberius’s room, got filthy although we cleaned it regularly, was tiny enough that his litter always smelled a bit, and he tore up the paper lamp we’d had in there (dumb move – we should have taken it out). For 4 months, we had two separate cats who could not meet unsupervised or even face-to-face without protection who hated each other, and no guest room (which was also a workspace we used). We were lucky we had that room at all – in a smaller apartment it would have been impossible to do this.

    Four months of strategically letting Tiberius out while Zhao Cai was sequestered in the bedroom, letting them meet through a crack in the door, dealing with Tiberius yelling because he didn’t really want to spend most of his time in that little room, yelling after we borrowed a large crate/cage so they could meet in full but still in a protected way, dealing with him wrapping the cat leash we got him around every table and chair leg because he hated it (the purpose was so that we could pull him back if the cats started fighting – we could get near Tiberius in that situation but not Zhao Cai, who, being more sensitive/easily angered, would lash out – and squirt guns didn’t work).

    But importantly, we agreed that this is what we would do when we realized that letting the cats learn to get along without our interference not only wouldn’t work but was dangerous for them. We committed to it together and saw it through. I think we did okay.

    Now they live together – they sort-of fight, sometimes they play. Tiberius, being only a year old now, likes to play with his “big brother”. Zhao Cai is not so into it. They do have spats, they do knock all sorts of crap over and broke my favorite coffee mug and the side of our couch is now scratched up in a way it never had been before, but they live together.

  • http://www.nthdegreedesigns.com/blog Seshat

    My husband and I each had a cat before we moved in together. Mine hadn’t been planned at all (stopped by a PetCo that had a sign out for Cat Adoption Day just to pet the kitties and I fell in love with my little fluff ball). I had always had cats growing up so figuring out what was needed was pretty simple.

    Our 2 cats were thrown together a little unexpectedly–M’s heat went out in January in MN and he and Moody Girl Cat came over to my apartment while he sorted it out with his apartment’s maintenance. I lived in a studio at the time so there wasn’t an easy way to separate unless we wanted to close Moody Girl Cat in my (very tiny) bathroom (she is a total sweetie to humans, but has very strong, very loud, opinions about pretty much everything). My Stupid Boy Cat (seriously, he’s dumb as a post) absolute loves everyone and has gotten along well with other cats in the past so we decided to just give it a shot. Things went shockingly well (Stupid Boy acted like a grumpy old man while Moody Girl investigated all his favorite spots). There was a little hissing and batting at each other, but nothing that required separating them. I think it really helped that Stupid Boy does not have a territorial bone in his body and Moody Girl knew that this was not *her* territory.

    After that I started taking Stupid Boy to M’s apartment over the weekends. His place was much larger and Moody Girl Cat is definitely dominant and territorial so we kept Stupid Boy in the bedroom the first couple of times and slowly let them out together. When we ended up moving to a new apartment together Boy Cat and I moved in first so Moody Girl didn’t claim everything as her personal territory right away.

    Now the 2 of them get along shockingly well. Usually what you hope for with cats is basic tolerance/coexistence but our 2 actually get along. They nap next to each other, groom each other, and play with each other. They both definitely do better when we go away on vacation since they have constant company rather than someone dropping by just to feed them. The funny thing is when M adopted Moody Girl he was told she did not get along well with other cats. It’s possible part of that was just the stress of her being in foster care because she’s done really well with my cat. He’s so incredibly chill I think his personality has helped a ton.

  • Meredith

    We wanted a lab or retriever for several years. Our biggest obstacle was money and that we weren’t living together yet and we didn’t want the dog to live with many roommates. We began asking friends with large dogs about the cost and made a spreadsheet. Apt. Deposit, pet rent, food, toys, etc. any little thing. We had no idea how much large dogs actually ate or had to go to the vet, how often they would break out of their locked crate and tear up our couch while we were at work. Once we were all settled into our co cohabiting routine, and then made it through the wedding, and running a marathon we decided it was time. By then, we felt comfortable with the initial costs and didn’t have any more time constraints (wedding planning/long runs) we got our Banjo, whom we love so much!

  • http://www.therewm.com/ Rachel W. Miller

    We knew we wanted a dog, and ended up getting a pair of puppies. Two at one time was a lot, which we were expecting…but we weren’t prepared for the way it forced us to have conversations about things like who takes them to the vet, who leaves work to go home and take them out, etc. I think talking through our expectations/thoughts on how a pet should be raised in advance (Eric had never had a puppy before, so I think he was unprepared for how much work they are) would have been super helpful!

  • Meg

    I just wanted to say that’s a very cute dog in the picture

  • Moe

    My chihuahua Lucy came before my husband did. She taught me to slow down, be responisble and to come home at a decent hour because she needed me. Lucy was marriage prep for the single me.

    When we took our vows and recited verses fromt he book of Ruth by husband kind of smirked when saying “and your people shall be my people” because he was thinking (and I was thinking it too) that he was also promising to take on Lucy as his dog too. When she gets into trouble now or needs to be walked he sometimes says “and your dog shall be my dog”

    Learning to care for her together was the source of some of our most serious fights as newlyweds. I thought that was just us!!
    Our family has now expanded to include a cat who chose us to be her family. A few short weeks later she surprised us by giving birth in our closet to three male kittens. They are eight weeks now and we are drowning in kittens. So,can you help a APW sister out and adopt a kitten from me? I’m in the so cal area if you are interested.

    • Moe

      Cute kittens!!

  • Lizzie C.

    The timing of this is perfect- hubs and I both really want to adopt an older shelter dog, and now we can actually afford its care (responsibility champions!). But I’m stuck on our work schedules–we both work full time, him as a teacher and me as an office monkey, so no bringing the dog to work. There’s a great doggie daycare near us but it would cost more than $100/week. Also, we have no yard, and we rent so I’m not about to leave a dog inside for 8 hours straight. What do all y’all with dogs do with them during the work day?

  • Mai

    We never officially discussed getting a dog together. But in a way, “our” dog was our first engagement statement 4 years ago.

    I grew up in a family that has always owned at least one dog, typically two. I got my first dog when I was in 2nd grade, and my first “officially mine” dog in 7th grade. Having met DPW in high school, we got to know each other with my dog in the picture. Over the years I joked with him asking “what if I got a second dog?” – to which the reply was always “that’s not fair, you can’t have two when I have none.”

    Cut to graduate school when we were living 600 miles apart – I took my 11 year old lab out for our evening walk, saw the dog that had been roaming my neighborhood for the prior 9 months, I spent the next half hour standing in the snow coaxing the dog over to me and wrangling it. After a brief vet visit where it was confirmed this dog had no microchip and obviously didn’t have a home, I called DPW to let him know I found a “puppy” (an 18 month old thing). It was conveniently a week before his birthday so in keeping with the agreement that he should get a dog before I got a second one, I broke the news saying “Happy Birthday! I got you a dog! What would you like me to call it?” After deciding on a name, I told DPW that he had two options, 1) He could enjoy my company (and the dogs) as long as he wanted, but if we were to split the dog would stay mine (“Finders Keepers” and all) or 2) We could consider the dog “ours” and we’re in this life together. He picked option 2.

    So while we never officially discussed getting a dog together, we knew it was going to happen at some point. It wasn’t the easiest thing to be a “single doggie mom” to two Furbabies who collectively out-weigh me, we can’t imagine NOT having rescued the 2nd one.

    I think how people behave around pets, and perhaps more importantly, how they behave around the loss of a pet speaks volumes to their compassion and unity to others. When we did have to put my lab down (she ended up living to 14 years), DPW snuggled me and told me that he’d never force me to get a new puppy, but when I say I’m ready (because, let’s be honest, I’ll get another lab), we’ll do it. He also said he know’s I’m independent (in the famous words of my 3 year old self “I Do It Self!”) and therefore would never try to surprise me with a new puppy in bed – but will bring me a basket of them to pick out the one I want.