He’s Leaving… and Taking the Dog?


Dear Dharma,

I know this may be way out there, but maybe you can weigh in.  When you break up with someone after a long (4 years) relationship, who gets the dog?  I know you have a dog, so you know how much you get attached, but we both want to keep her.

Can you do some shared custody thing, or alternate weekends?  And what happens if my ex moves out of town?  One of the reasons for the breakup was he wanted to move out of the city, and I don’t.


Shadow’s Mom


Dear Shadow’s Mom,

You’re right, I do, I do have a dog – and second to Shadow, he’s the best darn dog in the whole wide world. Just the mere thought of having to split him up breaks my heart!  If Mr. Dharma were to leave, Bob the Dog would simply just die, and in turn I would die without Bob the Dog… I mean, I’d do the same without Mr. Dharma too, but hey, he’s the one leaving me in this scenario, for fricks sakes, so what’s a girl supposed to do?

There’s no right or wrong answer here – obviously, you both need to come to an agreement that everyone can all live with.  I have heard of custody arrangements and alternating weekends for dogs, and depending on the situation, this can work.

However, if your ex is moving out of town, and that was part of the cause of the break-up, he should not take Shadow with him.  If you are in a position to keep him in the life style he’s become accustomed to, sole custody should fall to you.

I would simply consider it collateral damage of a life changing decision, wouldn’t you?

Would love to have some readers chime in on this one… either with their own experiences or any other solutions for Shadow’s mom…



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  • Goldpan99 says:

    One or the other has to keep the dog! Sharing a dog never works, it is so confusing, and the dog never gets to settle into a pack, because it is always changing. Talk about a recipe for disaster. And yes, if he is the one who has decided to leave, then he doesn’t get to take the dog!

    • Dharma says:

      Thanks Goldpan, that’s a great point about settling into a pack… dogs definitely need that, and putting them into a constant state of confusion probably isn’t the best idea…

  • Irene says:

    The dog should stay where it is. I agree with your other reader. He’s the one who decided to
    leave. I’d be devastated in this situation!

    • Dharma says:

      Right? Gaah, it breaks my heart to think of my Bob the Dog having to choose… well, mainly cuz he’d end up choosing his guy over his ma, which makes NO SENSE to me, since I’m the one who feeds him! Whatever…

  • Puppy Love says:

    Totally agree dog should stay. Why punish the dog by taking him from his home when the humans split. Just like kids should stay in their home if the parents split. It’s traumatic enough to deal with the split without having to deal with new home.

Whether you agree with Dharma or think she missed the mark on this one, leave a Comment!

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