I can’t live with my boyfriend’s dog

I mean ... you knew that after the other cat letter, this next one would come ...

We chat at 1.

Dear Meredith,

I'm new to Love Letters and found you through a co-worker. I'm looking for some unbiased advice. The short of it, I hate my boyfriend's dog. Allow me to explain: I have a fur baby who has been in my life the last six years. My boyfriend then got a dog with his brother while we were dating. I made clear that my cat and his dog could not live together because my cat gets sick when stressed and doesn't like dogs. He assured me that when he and his brother moved out of their house, the dog would be his brother's.

Well, over this past year, the dog has become more my boyfriend's, and he is very attached to it and seems to believe that we would all be able to get along just fine when we move in together at the end of the year. He's wonderful and I love him very much, and I feel bad when I tell him I do not like his dog. I won't sacrifice my cat's health; for starters it's too expensive. The dog is big (half my size) and bites/scratches.

I’ve repeatedly expressed this concern, but he's a huge optimist and believes it will all work out. There's a chance his brother will take the dog if he gets a house, but my boyfriend is looking for ways to make accommodations for her in his life. This is really a deal-breaker for me, but if he chooses me over the dog I don't want there to be resentment. How do I handle this?

- Cat Lady


Disclosure before advice: I have allergies. I have never fully known the love of a cat or dog.

That said, my take on this is that the cat came first. The end.

From the start, you made your boundaries and concerns about your fur baby very clear. It sounds like your boyfriend understood. I'm not saying he has to divorce this dog and never see her again, but the two of you should live separately until your boyfriend's brother can take her.

I want to be clear: I understand that your boyfriend has fallen in love with a pet and maybe didn't expect to need her this much. That happens, and it's lovely (based on what I've seen), but it will delay this cohabitation. Maybe that's OK. Plans change.

I wouldn’t frame this as a "me vs. the dog" decision, by the way. I think it's more about getting him to admit that the cat and dog shouldn’t live together, and then making plans accordingly. It's also about understanding that he might be sad if he has to part with the dog, but that doesn't mean there will be resentment. He can be upset without blaming you. And you can feel bad without having to bring guilt to the table. Sometimes people don't get everything they want and it's a bummer, but it doesn't have to divide you.

- Meredith

Readers? Is it LW vs. Dog?