Love my boyfriend, hate his dog

This letter reminds me of the cat one.

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Hi there! I'm nearly 40 and dating the nicest guy I have ever been with. He understands and accepts me in ways no one else has ever before. We have been dating for four months. A week ago, I was sharing that I want to sell my place because it is too much upkeep for me (lots of gardens, two separate houses on one lot), and he said I have a place to go. I was so excited about the prospect of moving in together someday, maybe in spring, and thought we could begin discussing how that would work.

But then his 8-year-old dog came over to spend the night and not only peed on the carpet right next to us (as we are actively looking at her), but she also killed a frog in the pond I created that is one of my happy peaceful places, where I pride myself on the frogs being so happy there they don’t jump in when I come out to sit. She is 8 and pees on rugs. She has a strong prey drive and can't even go on walks without putting someone's back out. She attacks other dogs. She often does not come when called. She destroys the furniture.

I have a compromised immune system and my relaxation time is important to keeping me healthy. She has disrupted my sleep and relaxation enough times that I don't think I can live with her. I also have very nice rugs and furniture, and having a nice house is important to me; it makes me feel really relaxed. I'm worried she would destroy my things. I also travel a lot and want to include my boyfriend and his dog, but we’ve tried including her and she behaves so poorly. We even have a crate for her at my house. A crate for an 8-year-old dog. I don't want him to have to keep spending money on dog sitters. But my boyfriend is a pushover and I don’t think he’s up for training her properly. I don't want to put more time into a relationship that isn't headed toward moving in together and getting married. If it weren't for the dog, it would be. He's the man of my dreams except for his awful dog. Help.

– The doghouse


"I don't think he's up for training her properly."

You don't know what he's up for just yet. It's worth asking whether he's willing to talk to a pet professional about how to change his dog's behavior. You can ask to come along, if that helps.

Also, there are a lot of other compromises that can be made here. A great dog sitter is part of the plan. And if the two of you live together and share expenses, paying for pet care while you take a trip might feel like money well spent. An investment in your experience.

As for where you live right now, you can't expect a dog not to be ... well, a dog. If the pond is your special place, call it off limits. Set up an area where the dog can be outside without wandering too far. Ask this man to help you create some physical boundaries so the dog can be around without entering the wrong place.

Again, this is where a trainer/expert can assist. The dog has been brought to an entirely new location. Sometimes when I'm out of sorts and freaked out about where I am, I need help. And maybe the nerves in me make me want to pee.

I do need to tell you that my first thought was that ... it's only been four months. You and this man are still learning about each other, still figuring out routines, priorities, etc. If the two of you can communicate well and work together to make your life more peaceful with this dog, it'll be something you dealt with as a team. This is a chance to see whether both of you can compromise to improve your experience together.

A long life with someone presents a series of challenges. This is just one. Can you be patient as you figure this out as partners?

– Meredith

Readers with pets: can you talk about your pet adjusting to new people and places? Suggestions for this reader?