Wednesday, September 7, 2011
The Great Love-Puppy Debate
I am as mortified that I've never heard the term "Love-Puppy" in my four years of relationship-blogging as I am grateful to Sarah for bringing me up to speed.
For those of you even more in the dark than I - a love-puppy is the dog you get with your significant other when you're feeling pretty confident that things are going to work out long-term. No, not your fiance. And no, definitely not your spouse. What makes the love-puppy a "love-puppy" and not a "fur-baby" is the fact that is joins the family prior to the family technically existing.
He or she most commonly comes into play right after you move in together, though shopping for breed and selection of name begin months prior. It's, "I've always wanted a dog..." then, "Well we should get one!" then, "but we don't live together..." and finally, "So when we move in together can we get a dog??"
I'm told the real puppy purchase doesn't happen until you go "pretend" look for dogs one afternoon because there aren't any good movies out and all your friends are busy. That's when, "a dog would be sooo fun," becomes, "he had us at woof-woof..." (that being the caption under the camera phone image you upload to Facebook the minute you get the dog).
I should mention at this point that I have done zero research on this not-at-all-a-phenomenon (so look out for an article about it in the Sunday Times...three years from now!), so I cannot tell you if the love-puppy is something one half of the pair pushes for versus the other or if it's always mutual. I also don't know if the girl (in a hetero set-up) always makes the pup-play before the guy (or vice versa), nor do I know if there is any form of legal documentation one must file over a dog sos to denote who exactly owns the dog (maybe there can be two owners?).
All I do know is that I personally think love-puppies are risky business. Not "a bad idea for every couple, ever" and not "destined to cause disaster" - just risky. Here are my two main reasons why:
1. If you have been dating for 7 years, living together for 5 I think it's fair to say that your life together is not in transition. If you have dated for under 1 year and just moved in together 3 months ago I think it's fair to say that your relationship is in the middle of a fairly big transition. And just because you successfully moved your 89 pair of shoes into his mini walk-in without a monster fight doesn't mean you are ready to jointly care for a new canine life. My opinion: just give it a little time. No one ever looked back on their life together and said, "you know what would have made everything better? If we'd gotten Princess Buttercup the month we moved in together instead of a year later. We really blew it on that one!"
I won't get into why raising a puppy can be a difficult thing for an un-tested couple to manage or why it's a good idea to take things slow when newly co-habitating. We all know all those bullet points, and they are by no means fact. This point of this point is just to say that it cannot hurt to wait, but it can hurt to rush into it before you're ready.
2. Forgive the debbie downer outlook, but what happens if you two don't make it? If the puppy was a baby you'd go through difficult divorce proceedings to determine how custody should be split. Maybe that happens with a dog if you're divorcing? I don't know the legality of it, but if there is nothing binding the couple, that makes for a messy situation should the relationship end. Whose dog is it really? Do you do doggy visitation rights? Do you split all the dog's vet bills?
I know that making a decision based on the worst-case scenario is no way to live your life, and that no one who gets a love-puppy plans on breaking up. So I guess the thesis statement of this point becomes the same as the one prior - why not wait? Most people would say it's a big step to have a baby before you're legally bound. Why is a dog any different? (that's not a rhetorical question. I'm actually working through this issue in my head).
Those are two points on one specific side of the divide, but someone could just as easily say that puppies bring couples together, teach important lessons in co-habitation and are absolutely nothing like having a child. Again, I don't know, I've never raised a puppy or lived with a boyfriend. I just know that I'd personally want to wait if a puppy was proposed (which it hasn't been. This is not a, "hey R...did you have a chance to read the blog today...").
What's your opinion? What's your experience? Or what's your love-puppy's name?