Thursday, February 16, 2012

Husband Is In The Doghouse After Bringing Home A Puppy

Dear Tazi:

Several months ago, my son Michael wrote to you as a homework assignment (he had to write a letter to someone, and he chose you). He wanted advice on how to get me to give in and allow him to get a puppy. I thank you very much for explaining to him why he could not have a puppy; I only wish my husband had bothered to listen to either of us. For Christmas, he bought Michael a black Labrador puppy.

"Charles" decided that a puppy would be a great gift for our almost-eight-year-old son and brought home "Frisky" on Christmas Eve. Michael was ecstatic, and once again promised to take care of everything the puppy would need. Fast forward two months, and guess who is stuck taking care of the animal? That's right - me.

Frisky is an adorable puppy, but a lot of work, and I get absolutely no help from my husband. When it is time to take Frisky for a walk/run after work, Charles claims he needs to go to the gym to exercise or that he just got back from the gym and is too tired. When it comes to taking Frisky to obedience training classes, Charles insists that he has work that he brought home from the office. Yesterday, when we had to take Frisky to the vet for his puppy shots, Charles could not go because he "had" to go play racquetball at the club! Michael comes with me for all of the above (walks, classes, and to the vet) but whines the entire time that he is bored.

I would never drop an animal off at the pound, but I am seriously considering trying to find a new home for Frisky; he is simply more than I can handle. When I mentioned this over dinner last night, Michael started to cry and the conversation was dropped until bedtime - when my husband accused me of being selfish. He thinks that because I am a stay-at-home-mom I don't do anything during the day, and have all the time in the world to schedule obedience classes, vet appointments, and walks with the dog.

Tazi, I would love to find time to go to the gym during the day; but between running the house, sewing clothes for my family, running errands, volunteering at school...there just aren't enough hours in the day! How do I get my family to start pitching in to help me out with the dog? Frisky is starting to get very attached to me.

Not Feeling Frisky, In More Ways than One

Dear Not Feeling Frisky...

It sounds to me like you have your hands quite full! Being a stay-at-home-mom can be a full-time job and adding a new puppy to the mix can be like working overtime; but please remember that Frisky will not be a puppy forever. Soon, he will be trained and the need for obedience classes will end; his visits to the vet will become a yearly event, rather than a monthly thing; and his walk/run schedule will become less erratic as you learn the difference between when he needs to be walked and simply when he wants to go for a walk. In the meantime, if Frisky is to become a full-fledged member of the family, the rest of the family needs to start pitching-in to help!

Unlike cats, which are solitary, dogs are pack animals. This means, unless trained to do otherwise, they look to one person as the pack leader and everyone else as pack members - members that rank higher than the dog would like to believe. This can lead to the dog obeying only the leader and ignoring or disrespecting other members of the family/pack. Your husband and your son need to make an active effort to include themselves in Frisky's obedience training and his regular routine.

I find it very convenient for Charles that he only brings work home from the office on the nights Frisky has obedience training classes. This is an issue on which you need to stand firm. Explain to Charles what I have mentioned: that Frisky will not see your husband as an "Alpha" pack member unless he is trained to do so - which means coming to the obedience training classes and learning how and when to exert authority over the pooch.

As for finding the time and energy to take the dog for an evening run, tell Charles that he can skip the cardio portion of his workout and go for a run with Frisky. This will give both of them the exercise they crave, as well as build a bond between the two of them, which will serve a two-fold purpose: It will give you time to yourself, and lessen - or even prevent - the possessiveness that will soon come if Frisky's attachment to you grows any stronger.

As for Michael whining that he is bored, remind him that Frisky is his puppy; and that he has to take the bad along with the good. In short, he needs to suck it up - although I wouldn't put it in those exact words.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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