A relationship through many phases. What happens when you want to build a family with this person but aren’t ready for a kid? Should you get a pet together?
Whether you’re both experienced pet owners, or this is the first time either of you have ever had an animal, getting one together is a big decision. Co-owning an animal with your S.O. should never be treated as a whim. This is a long term commitment that will require both of you to put in time and effort every single day.
Make Sure Your Relationship Is Stable First
It will also require a monetary commitment from both of you. That’s why it’s important to be certain that you’re both in your relationship for the long run before you get an animal together. Sure a dog or a cat isn’t a baby, but it is a living creature that will be dependent upon both of you. That means you both need to be on the same page before you head off to your local animal shelter or breeder.
If you are married or have been living together for several years, you can feel more comfortable about taking this step. Not only are you in a serious relationship that will likely last for many more years to come, but you’ve also been together long enough to know whether or not your S.O. is responsible. This means you won’t have to worry about how much more difficult it will be to end your relationship with a shared animal in the mix.
It also means that you’ll know they will be more likely to hold up their end of the animal-related duties or not. If you’ve only been together for a little while and aren’t really sure if this person is the one for you, hold off on getting one together. Having to fight over who gets the animal when you’ve broken up will just make things that much worse, and shared custody will be a pain for all involved—especially for the dog or cat.
Have A Talk On What You Want
Once you’ve decided that your’re in a serious, long-term relationship, sit down and talk to your S.O. about what you’re looking for in a pet. If neither of you has ever owned an animal before, you might want to do some research online or check out books about animal ownership. This will help you get an idea of the level of commitment each kind of animal requires.
For instance, dogs require a little more work than cats do. You have to walk them regularly, and potty training a puppy is more difficult than showing a kitten where its litter box is. If you both work long hours and neither of you can get home to walk a dog at lunch time, a cat might be a better fit for you. If you work far away from your home or apartment, but your S.O. works ten minutes away and always gets a lunch break, you probably could have a dog. Just make sure that your mate is okay with always being the one who has to handle midday walks.
Divide The Responsibilities
Speaking of midday walks and other responsibilities, you and your mate need to figure out a way to divvy up the work and cost associated with having an animal. The time to do so is prior to picking up your new four-legged family member. If you can’t decide who will be responsible for feeding times, vet trips, etc. without an argument, at least one of you isn’t ready yet.
You may also find that your S.O. is trying to pawn more of the work off onto you, which could indicate that he or she doesn’t really have their heart in it. It’s also really important to discuss the costs involved.
Things To Plan
Buying from a breeder will be more expensive than adopting from a shelter, but either way there will be costs involved. Then you’ll have to pay for things like food, toys, collars and leashes, cat litter or dog baggies, and veterinarian appointments. If you don’t have a joint bank account, you need to plan in advance how you’ll divide up the payments.
The last thing you want is to take your sick dog to the vet and discover that you owe hundreds of dollars because your S.O. can’t—or won’t—pay for their half. You may want to open a joint bank account dedicated specifically to those costs, even if all of your other accounts are separate.
Once you’ve talked everything through, make sure that you go together to pick out your animal. Springing a surprise puppy or kitten on your mate might seem romantic, but it’s really not a good idea. It’s important to make sure that you both meet any possible future pets before you decide on one. You’re caring for it together, so you should make sure you both feel good about the animal you end up with.
That may also mean making compromises. You might want a big dog to go running with while your S.O. might want a small lap dog. Try to find something in between that will be athletic enough to play, but small enough to hang out in your house. Once everyone’s had their say and compromises have been reached, you’ll be much more likely to get one that you’re both absolutely wild about.