DEAR ABBY: I have started seeing a guy I love very much. I'll call him "Mitch." We spend a lot of time together. I have stayed with him while my 2-year-old son, "Caleb," visits his daddy.
I recently introduced Caleb to Mitch, and last weekend we both stayed at Mitch's place. The problem is, Mitch has a large dog that is very territorial and protective and isn't used to company. The dog, "Crusher," has shown aggression toward me, but it was nothing we couldn't handle. However, the dog is now being aggressive toward Caleb. On a couple of occasions, Crusher charged my son and left scratches.
Mitch and I have resorted to separating the two when Caleb is over. By "separating," I mean we have brought a few of Caleb's toys and his TV to set up in a room just for him. The problem is, Caleb is in the room with the door closed most of the time, while Crusher runs free in the house.
Abby, my son's life was turned upside down when my husband and I divorced. Now he has had to adjust to the fact that when he's with Mitch and me, he must be carried around for fear of the dog. I haven't come out and asked Mitch to get rid of Crusher, or even to limit him when we are in the house. Is this something I have a right to ask?
Mitch has been a bachelor all his life, and I'm afraid if I confront him about this he will feel I am making him choose between me and his dog. Please give me some advice.
-- TORN IN TWO IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR TORN: It is your duty as Caleb's mother to make sure that he is safe at all times. Your little boy is only 2 and can't speak on his own behalf. Shutting a child alone in a room "most of the time" isn't protecting him -- it is neglect. If you do not confront your boyfriend about his dangerous animal, you are choosing him and his dog over your son!
The wrong critter is being confined. When Caleb was attacked the first time, your boyfriend should have volunteered to confine his dog. That he didn't is appalling. That you said nothing is worse. As a mother, your child's interests must come before your love interest.