So you’re thinking you might want to throw in with a dog lover? Let me share a few helpful DO’s and DON’T’s to help smooth the way.
- Do marry thinking that your dog lover (DL) will want to share with you all the myriad ways in which DL’s dog is the most amazing, the most astounding, the most intelligent, the most funny, the most lovable thing since fill-in-the-blank.
- Don’t marry thinking that eventually you’ll be able to change DL’s behavior toward DL’s dog. Even if you seem to succeed in the short run, it will find a way to come back to bite you in the butt (no pun intended — well maybe a little one).
- Do accept that how DL behaves with DL’s dogs when you first meet is always how DL will behave. If DL lets Fido on the bed, DL will always let Fido on the bed (even if DL has to sneak Fido on the bed when you’re not around).
- Don’t think for a second that DL letting said dog on the bed (when you’re not around) has anything to do with DL’s love or respect for you. It’s an entirely separate thing.
- Do make a genuine effort to bond with DL’s dog. Adopting the if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em philosophy will save everybody a lot of wear and tear. Bonding might not make you a convert but it will help you make space in your heart. Not to mention DL will love you even more for it.
- Don’t ignore DL’s dog. This will only make the dog more likely to pester you for attention. And more likely for DL to keep wondering about your character.
- Do offer to pitch in and share the care. There’s probably no faster way to DL’s heart than to offer to help with walks, runs, play, and feeding.
- Don’t adopt the attitude that what’s yours is yours, and what’s mine is mine when it comes to DL’s dogs and your time.
- Do be open to learning about dogs so you can understand why they do what they do.
- Don’t criticize DL’s dogs for being less than perfect when they’re just being dogs. (Of course, if there is a serious issue such as aggression or resource guarding, etc., then by all means speak up.)
Wanting to marry someone who has dogs, is a lot like wanting to marry someone who has kids. It’s easy to judge from the outside and think you could do it better. But you’ll get along a lot better if you accept that they have a pre-existing relationship that’s theirs. If you want to affect that relationship positively, you have to be willing to participate without an agenda first. Who knows– in time, you just might find yourself being won over–and having a positive influence to boot!