Pets sometimes don’t mix well with relationships

Listen to this article

My boyfriend and I have a dog together – an eight-month-old deaf Boston terrier named Ripley. She is energetic, rambunctious, intelligent, and she makes us laugh every day. Unfortunately (or I guess I should say, fortunately) we both have full-time jobs, and she spends more time than I would like home by herself. When we took her to Awesome’s parents’ house in December, she and their cat played together like brother and sister (meaning they played but also fought occasionally), so we have been thinking about getting a cat.


A friend of mine recently told me in passing that her roommate was looking for someone to adopt his 6-month-old kitten. I told her we might be interested, and in less than two days, Awesome and I had adopted a cat. He and Ripley are still checking each other out, but so far everything has gone well.

When I asked my friend why her roommate was giving his pet up, she responded with irritation that he had found a new girlfriend and was spending so much time over her house that he was neglecting the cat (once she came home at 11 p.m. and the cat hadn’t been fed). She mentioned that originally, he and his now-ex girlfriend had bought the cat together to raise it together. Now that she was out of the picture, he had to take the cat, and once he met the new girl, it was bye-bye Sylvester.

I am absolutely 100 percent for adopting animals. I am 100 percent for couples adopting animals together. However, I would urge anyone in a relationship, steady or not, to think about adopting an animal for a very long time before actually taking the plunge. It’s a huge responsibility.

Even cats, who are largely independent animals, need attention and care on a regular basis. Dogs are even more responsibility. When Ripley was a puppy I compared her to a baby for a long time (not to diminish how hard it is to take care of a baby) because she needed to be watched all the time and she was sick the first two months we had her.

If you are in a relationship and you do decide that getting a pet is for you, please have some sort of contingency plan in case of an unexpected breakup. Make sure one of you can keep the pet. Some people even share custody of their pets like divorced couples do with children. When my parents divorced, the custody agreement for the kids included Holly, our family dog. There are so many animals out there who need loving homes – please don’t add to that list.