My heart was broken and before I could even pick it up, it was broken again. I was betrayed by a man who I thought would be my husband and he took my biggest joy; a two-year-old lab/pit bull mix named Lula. One minute I thought my three-year relationship was in a healthy place and moving toward marriage and then I woke up to find the unimaginable. “Good morning sexy” via text. My boyfriend had met a girl on a bachelor weekend in Vegas and they had a 6 month emotional affair.
I confronted him, he lied. I cried, he lied. And then the truth finally came out. He owned up to the text messages and while arguing that they were never physical, he did admit to talking and texting with her daily over the past few months. The hardest part is that when I asked him if he was going to cut it off with her, he hesitated. He later swore to me that he would drop the relationship but it was too late. I decided to leave him and get my own place. I’m angry and heartbroken. But worst of all, I feel helpless. While he technically bought Lula, I have been the provider and parent. We’ve co-raised her since she was a pup and now that I’m moving out, he says it’s my decision to leave them. He’s not giving her up. And I know that if I leave, that I leave Lula too. Dear Hoopers, I am trying to figure out my life without him, but can’t imagine my life without Lula. What do I do?
-Pained and Poochless
Dear Pained and Poochless,
You feel heartbroken and betrayed. Although he swears he didn’t cheat physically, he cheated emotionally by carrying on this daily textual relationship for 6 months. My guess is that you also feel confused by all this. Why would he maintain such an ongoing conversation with another woman while you two have been dating and living together all along? Although we are all capable of maintaining platonic relationships with members of the opposite sex, it seems fairly clear from the text you read that there were strong romantic tones to their relationship. Also, given the length of their textual relationship, you may want to prepare yourself for the possibility that they were physical.
Regardless, being cheated on emotionally or physically can often bring up many doubts about the whole of the relationship and about you as the partner. Let there be no doubt, he is the problem in all of this. He betrayed, he lied, let’s be sure to give him the blame. So here you are trying to move on with your life and he is standing in the way of that too, at least where Lula is concerned.
From my casual reading of the legal aspects of this issue, it appears that you may be in a difficult situation if you hope to gain custody of Lula through legal means. Unless your name is on registration or veterinary records as being the owner, it is quite difficult to assert your rights as a pet owner.
Here you are trying to move on with your life and he is standing in the way of that too.
Although he has been resistant to your offers to take Lula so far, I would again consider another pitch in the near future. I would appeal to his decency and to your love and care for her in these past 2 years. I would consult a local attorney to best advise you on your options. Otherwise, I would encourage you to begin to prepare your heart for life without Lula by your side. You will always be one of her doggie parents and you will always be in her doggie heart. Remember the good times that you two had together and rest easy that you did everything you could to be there for her.
Dear Pained and Poochless,
Your letter definitely pulled on my heart strings. This is an emotional time and there are no easy answers. For many people animals are family. We don’t have children yet, but I have one in the form of an 11-year-old blind miniature pinscher who has been the joy at the end of many rough days and a reliable form of comic relief. The thought of her not being by my side pains me and I can only imagine the loss you feel at this moment.
There are a few different approaches you can take next, none which will be easy. You can try to draw up visitations rights to see Lula, investigate shared custody of her, or pursue sole custody. As hard as it may be, I would keep Lula’s best interest in the forefront of the decision.
You are experiencing a double whammy of grief. But, please don’t think that you are abandoning her.
If you do want to fight for ownership of Lula, it may be a tough battle, especially considering many states identify animals as “property.” It boils down to who has the paperwork that shows purchase or adoption of the dog. In the event you were to share custody, would that be healthy for you? Or, would it cause you to have to come face to face with your lying ex week after week?
Where will Lula’s quality of life be better? It’s not fair for you and it’s not fair for Lula. It’s okay to be angry and hurt by that. You are experiencing a double whammy of grief. But please don’t think that you are abandoning her. You gave each other reciprocal love and joy. In time, you may grow to want the ownership of a dog back in your life. Any pooch will be grateful to have you.