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Ask The Hairy Dogfathers: Boundaries Aren’t Just For Dogs

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Dear Hairy Dogfathers,

I am writing to you as a last resort. I am feeling really outnumbered here.  The kids have been home from school all summer, and many of their regular activities have slowed down or paused for a summer break. My husband has gotten it his head that the family needs a dog… a Golden Retriever to be specific.  Now with his constant “suggestions” about a family dog, the kids have picked it up too!  All I hear is “We PROMISE to walk him”, “Mom, you know we will take care of it!”  Yeah, until school, hockey, dance and band start up again. My kids lead busy lives, and I am the Mom Taxi taking them to lessons and keeping this house in order. What little free time I have, I do not want to spend on a dog that I don’t want. What do I say to my family?

Signed, Mean Mom

Related: All That Miss Behav-in’

Dear Mean Mom,

A dog can be an excellent addition to a family; however, as you have clearly pointed out, everyone needs to be ready for the new responsibility. For all the joy and laughter that a pet can bring, they also bring extra responsibility. It sounds like you need to find a way to show your family how much work a dog can be, and make sure they are ready to take it all on.

One thing you could consider is telling them that if you are to consider getting a family dog they have to volunteer at a local shelter once or twice a week for nine months or so doing a variety of duties (e.g., cleaning out kennels, walking dogs), and if they keep this up, you will seriously consider adding a four-legged furry friend to your family.

Since you’re already the Mom Taxi, I would suggest also adding in the condition that will not be driving them to and from the shelter or making special efforts to ensure they follow through with this, since if you end up getting a family dog, it will be their responsibility. This way you don’t have to say a flat no, and if they do end up following through, you know they will be ready and willing to take care of their new pet.

Related: Bad Manners At The Dog Park

Dear Mean Mom,

You’re a busy woman, and we salute you!  It sounds like your husband is the cheerleader for the family getting a dog, but that you do a lot of the work around the house. The last thing you need extra work added to your work load. To crush the rebellion, you need to have a heart-to-heart with your husband.

If he is willing to pick up the slack from when the kids lose interest, nag them to do the dog chores, walk the dog (no matter the weather), take him to the vet, and pick up the poop,  then maybe you could look at fostering a dog for a local rescue group. Many rescue groups are in need of extra help during the summer, while their regular foster families are on vacation. This might make a nice project for Dad and the kids. Who knows… you might enjoy having a quiet walk with your foster pup, for some “alone” time.


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