The suitcases are packed, the moving van organized, and your separation is about to begin. You have a plan for everything, except the dog.
Katie Glass wrote a great article about her experience going through a “doggy divorce,” as she calls it:
‘It will be good practice for when we have children,’ I told my friends, unaware how prophetic this was: that in the end the dog would teach us not only what it was like to raise a fur baby together, but also how to negotiate custody of her after we split up.
I predicted correctly that having a dog with my boyfriend prepared us for parenthood. Raising her, we realised how different we were. While he became, in my eyes, a strict dog disciplinarian, I revealed myself to be a boundary-free hippy parent who let my children run loose.
His strict dog-raising clashed with my laid-back approach. He is the kind of person who thinks a dog can sleep downstairs in the kitchen, while I am a dog-mother who likes to order from the menu for my little princess. He watched TV Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan’s training videos, I took her to doga (dog-yoga) classes. I worried this is what he would be like with our children. He had similar concerns about me.
But while dogs seem like children, part of the family, in the eyes of the law they are chattel, just stuff. When a court makes orders about children, great care is taken to ensure that the orders made are in the best interests of the child, but a court never considers the best interests of the dog, only ownership.
Most dog-owners recognize that this is ridiculous, a dog is not a TV set. Many couples are able to arrange matters between them because they both care about the dog and actually want what is best for their little furball. There are clauses in agreements that can attempt to address this, and mediation is a great solution for people to want to reach a resolution. But don’t look to the court to litigate a doggy custody agreement.