Help! My Dog Has a Step-Parent!


Dear Reader:

It’s important to note that I wanted to share this writing I did from my own heart and mind…but it’s from a long time ago, more than a decade, in fact, from my single days. I didn’t want anyone that knows me to think I had suddenly split from my husband I only recently posted about in my very last blog! With that said, this goes out to all my GIRLZ (and guys, and nonbinaryz) still looking…giving you not just hope, but the knowledge that this here lady found her love – on Tinder! – and was a first-time bride at age 43! So…keep up that search, keep the faith…s/he’s out there. And even if your ex has a new partner, and even if your pup has a step parent, it’ll be ok…you’ll fall in love soon, Queenie’s here to promise you that <3

Help! My Dog Has a Step-Parent!

I love my ex. I really, actually do. No, we’re not in love anymore-it’s been over for more than three years-but we are still each other’s family. In times of need, we would still both drop everything for one another. Though our break up wasn’t without paralyzing pain, the foundation of love and respect was there. Jordan and I still share our greatest joys and sorrows with one another. And we share our dog.

You hear nightmare stories of doggie-parents breaking up and suing one another for custody. You hear about couples with heart-wrenching anguish of one person keeping the dog the other loved so much, with no option of seeing the dog again. All the worse, you hear of dogs being abandoned to shelters because no amicable agreement can be made with regard to their care. I became so aware of the need for shared-custody arrangements for broken-up couples that my pet care company, Queenie’s Pets®, even offers pet taxiing service between former couples that share custody of their dog but do not wish to interface.  But Jordan and I were in the small category of relationships to end with both of us knowing a shared custody arrangement had to happen – for our sakes and for Governor Monkey’s, our then two-and-a-half-year-old Border Collie mix.  Having the maturity about passing our boy between us so that he still got in all of his hikes, road trips, and farmer-direct specialty food pick-ups meant that, in spite of we silly humans and are love mistakes, our innocent pup could go on with his life without too much stressful interruption.

Nonetheless, the day I smelled the other woman’s perfume as I bent down to kiss my dog’s head after a visit with his other mom, I had no idea how to react.  While we are both aware of one another’s dating lives being in existence, it was still jarring. Right there, literally in my face, was proof: my dog might have a stepmom.

Now, for those of you with human children, you might think this entire line of thinking is ridiculous. You might wonder why someone else in my dog’s life would even matter. After all, he’s a social pooch – the more the merrier, right?
But I do not have human children; my pets are my babies – three of whom began their lives with Jordan and me as their parents – together.  I spend heaps of time training my animals, worrying about them, making their food, and understanding what every single facial twitch means.  When I allow for the human emotions of jealousy and fear to enter the picture, I begin to let my mind go wild.  I imagine Governor Monkey going unmonitored around another woman’s children and biting them when they touch his dysplastic hips.  I picture her having the attitude of “well, it’s not my dog – I can feed him from the table.”  I picture him curling up at night in another woman’s bed and it makes me just feel, well…. icky.  I create scenarios and stories in my mind of everything she is doing to un-do my hard work for my baby boy.

When sharing human children, it is probably perfectly logical and acceptable to have rules you wish to lay out with your ex about what your kids are and are not allowed to do whilst with them (and a potential new beau).  Said list might not seem obsessive and crazy.  Yet if I typed out a list of all of the vocab Gov knows, what the difference is between “leave it” and “drop it,” and the fact that I never say “no” to him, only “oops,” in my ardent commitment to positive-reinforcement training…. who do I become?  Am I even going to be taken seriously?  Is my ex going to even carry this list with her?  Would she ever admit to the new love interest that she dated such a Crazy Dog Lady?

I used to feel guilty when my post-Jordan, now ex-boyfriend would walk Governor – that, in some way, it was unfair to Jordan.  Or worse, that she’d see our dog out, having a good time with Joe, and feel that same pang I felt when I smelled that unfamiliar perfume on Gov’s head.  But then I realized that anyone who is going to be a part of my life is going to have Gov in it – and the same simply had to be true for Jordan if our custody arrangement was to remain fair.  Who am I to worry about Governor Monkey having a stepmom when he’s happily cavorting on vacation with my boyfriend and me?

Ultimately, I’ve learned that I cannot control everything, and that that isn’t always a bad thing.  To let go a bit, to let life happen, is ok.  I support Jordan and her right to move on – to find love again.  In fact, I want that for her.  Part of that package is accepting that Governor Monkey is going to, someday, have a stepparent, and that person will play a role in Gov’s life over which I will have little-to-no say.  Just like parents of human children, Jordan and I must hope that the priorities and commitments we have set for our dog’s health, behaviors and overall well-being will carry over even when one of us is not present.  I can spend my time wringing my hands and being controlling, or I could even not allow Gov to go with Jordan on her weekend trips to see “the other woman.”  However, I’m well-aware that when he does, he gets to run around on the beach and be doted upon by the woman’s young son, all of which thrills him.  My other option is to be a person that is open to my dog giving to others the amazing gifts of “love” he gives and to Governor receiving the same from those around him-including that step-parent.

No one else will ever be Gov’s mom (two is plenty). But if he is likely to have a step dad, then it’s only fair he’s also allowed to have a step-mom, too.   I guess it is a case of “the more the merrier” for him.  Now I just need for the other woman to have a less floral perfume.