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.