Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Boyfriend Wants Dog, But Reader Doesn't Like Them

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend grew up with a dog in his family, and is one of those guys who calls the dog his brother. The dog passed away when my boyfriend was 23, and he was devastated. I had never seen him cry until that point in our relationship.

It has been a couple of months, and my boyfriend has asked me if he and I can get a dog together. As much as I want to say yes to bring that happiness back to my boyfriend, I dislike dogs. I never had any pets growing up, so I don’t understand the whole “bond with an animal” thing. How should I deal with this situation? -- Boyfriend Wants a Dog, Albuquerque, New Mexico

DEAR BOYFRIEND WANTS A DOG: It is common for couples to have differing views about pets. What is important is that you come to an agreement on how you will manage the pets if you ultimately choose to have one (or more). For you, this means softening a bit toward dogs. This doesn’t mean that you have to grow to love dogs, but it would be great for you to be empathetic toward your boyfriend’s attitude.

As it relates to getting a dog, I don’t think you should try to prevent your boyfriend from getting another. He will resent you if you do. Instead, make it clear to him that while you are not into dogs, you are willing for him to get another -- provided he accepts full responsibility for it. Be clear that you do not want to have to engage with the dog.