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The Break Up

Author: Nicolette Meyer | Date: January 4, 2013

Just as children get caught in the crossfire of divorcing parents, so too can dogs when their owners split up. It’s just one of the delicate matters that need dividing when two people choose to go their separate ways. In the last few months, I’ve known several couples that have called it quits, and although divvying up the record collection and bakeware can still prove a painful process, it’s not nearly as difficult (in most cases) as deciding who gets the dog.

More and more these days, people are choosing to live in domestic partnerships, living as a unit without the official paperwork of a marriage certificate.

So when an unofficial unit breaks up, how exactly do two people decide which person gets the dog they both adopted (or purchased) together?

It’s not exactly as obvious as when two people have a child; unless one is unfit or unwilling, there is a shared custody, but does that really work for a canine dependent?

Dogs are extremely adaptable creatures; they’re living proof that you can take something with a lingering wildness and teach it to drool at the sound of a bell or to roll over for a cookie. However, does this adaptability make it easier for them to bear either the loss of one “parent” or the splitting of time between two? It’s well known that dogs can suffer stress and anxiety in a similar manner to humans. Just as we all have remorse over failed relationships, I think dogs can also be saddened by a sudden change in their family unit. I wonder if one living situation is easier for them to cope with than the other… and that’s not even touching on the human side of a break up. I can’t even imagine what life would be like if I lost my dog-custody in a split!

This blog post is kind of a bummer, I’m sure, and I’m not even offering any solutions or advice this time. It’s more of a meditation on the events going on around me, something that makes me stop and wonder.

Have any of you reading this gone through a break up that involved making a decision of who gets the dog? How did you handle it? Feel free to discuss in the comments section your particular experience.



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