When you meet someone new (and what happens with the dogs)

David, Kevin and Cynder  The relationship ended, Cynder and I moved out, the girls had to split up and I was finally ready to start dating again. It would take a little time for me to be comfortable with the idea of finding something serious again, and to be honest, the way that the guys interacted with Cynder was a big thing for me as to whether or not the relationship would go any further. Whilst I was enjoying the type of life that being a mid-twenties, gay man could provide I always considered Cynder in whatever I did.

A few simple rules were in place to ensure that she was never put out by the situation:

  1. No sleeping on the bed: Cynder always sleeps in the laundry at night, this means she wouldn’t be displaced if the other side of the bed was to be occupied for the evening (a rare occasion I tell you! Honest!)
  2. Cynder comes first: No matter what I was doing that evening I would always come home, ensure Cynder had a walk, fresh water and was fed before going anywhere. She was always number one priority.
  3. Staying in: I wouldn’t always go out, rather encourage staying in to hang out, chat, watch a movie and play with Cynder. This also gave valuable insight into how the guy interacted with Cynder and therefore whether I thought the relationship would work.

There was a stage where I was sort of ‘involved’ but what really put me off was the way they felt towards Cynder. She wasn’t allowed to be the normal, excited puppy she was and they didn’t seem to understand much about dogs in general. Ultimately that didn’t end up going anywhere, which is kind of good because that was around the time David swept back into my life. David and Cynder

Our story began in 2011 when we first met, randomly, at my work. I was working as a cashier at a supermarket and D and I got talking one night about nothing in particular. I was a completely different person back then, I was still with A and living with undiagnosed depression. After that first meeting D returned to thank me for taking the time to care that night, he had been having a shit day and I really helped cheer him up, after that we would just talk every time we saw each other. I never knew why, but I would always get really shy around him. When I left that job to go full time at the shelter I guess we both thought we would never see each other again.

Fast forward to the middle of Jan this year, I had moved out on my own with Cynder and through the magic that is dating apps, David and I found each other again. The first time he met Cynder was the real test, but from the instant she jumped all over him, licked his face and nipped his nose I knew this was going to go far. He played with her as if she was his own dog, he never ignores her and in fact sometimes will realise he hasn’t said hello to her yet and go out and play ball with her.

Down at the beach with CynderHe’s her buddy and she’s figured that out as well. She’ll drop the toy on his lap or at his feet and encourage him to play with her and she isn’t left wanting. The best thing about it is that D understands how important Cynder is to my life and makes her a big part of his own. He considers her in things that we do, suggests places we can all go, comes to training with us and understands the dynamic: he’s her buddy but there are still rules.

What more could a boy ask for? How have your pets coped when you’ve started seeing someone new? How did you make it easier for them? Leave a comment below or let me know on Facebook!

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When it’s actually over (and what happens with the dogs)

Photo of the week: HomeSomewhere in the midst of the relationship ending and then the Border Collie, Cynder and I moving to a new place, my ex A and I had to begin to prepare the girls for their own imminent separation. We had come to the agreement that the Border Collie, Cynder would come with me and the Beagle, Luna would stay behind with A. This wasn’t going to be an easy task as they are both quite fond of each other. I knew that Cynder would take it a bit easier, but Luna had really become attached to having another pup around to play with.

About a week before the Border Collie, Cynder and I were due to leave we made a few small changes at home to help them get used to living apart:

Sleeping arrangements: The girls would normally sleep in the laundry together at night, they knew the command ‘bed’ and would go straight there when told. For the last week before we moved the Beagle, Luna stayed in the laundry and the Border Collie’s bed was moved into the bathroom. This helped to transition them and get them used to sleeping apart from each other.

Walking: We would usually walk both of them together at the same time, photo(2)which was always interesting, as Cynder would need to be the dog at the front, or she would pull until she was walking in front of Luna. Walks became separate occasions, Luna with A and Cynder with me. Cynder is a lot calmer on walks when she is by herself.

Feeding:  Another change that we made was to separate their meals so they were used to not being around another dog when eating. Cynder would get fed whilst Luna was on a walk and then I would bring Cynder inside whilst Luna was eating. Cynder had started to get a bit controlling of Luna at feeding times so this gave Luna a chance to get back into her own routine.

Directly following the move the Border Collie, Cynder had the new house all to herself for the first couple of days. I noticed that she begun to sit by the back door and would occasionally whimper or bark to get my attention. I didn’t give in to her demands and if she was quiet I would go outside and play a game of fetch with her or let her inside for a while. I kept her routine as normal as possible in the new house and she had established her territory by the time the Beagle, Luna came to stay for the Christmas period.

KevinAndCynderCoffeeThe girls got to spend one last week together, encompassing Christmas and they both enjoyed ripping open their presents on Christmas morning and then running around like mad in the yard. Once the week was over and A returned to pick up Luna, it was a time where I wished they understood what was happening. My heart broke the next day when I went to pick up the last of my belongings from the old house and the Beagle, Luna, couldn’t control her excitement. She showed me everything in the backyard like I had never been there before.  I gave her a big cuddle and said goodbye, I wasn’t sure when I would be seeing her again.

It’s been a difficult time for us all. The Beagle, Luna has stopped howling all the time and is enjoying her walks and time spent with A. Cynder doesn’t whine as much but she always wants to play, she’s not often without a toy in sight. Of course, it hasn’t been easy for me either. There are days that are more difficult than others, but I am never lonely, because just outside or running around the loungeroom chasing after her Platypus toy, is my heart dog, my Border Collie, my Cynder.

 

When you move out (and what happens with the dogs)

photo(2)As the moving boxes started piling up around the house, and my things started disappearing from my room both the Beagle, Luna and the Border Collie, Cynder started to sense that something was up. After my recent separation we trialled continuing to live together in the same house, but it just wasn’t working at all. After the decision was made as to what would happen with the girls it was time for me to pack my things and for the Border Collie, Cynder and I to move to our own space.

Having been through two house moves already (at only 19 months old) the Beagle, Luna was the first to work out what was going on. Her behaviour started to change slightly, she would always want to be inside and whine if she couldn’t be, or stare through the door from the lawn. Once she was inside she would have to check out all the boxes just to see what was going on.

The Border Collie, Cynder wasn’t too caught up in it all as the Beagle, Luna but she did get a bit clingier as more and more boxes started to appear. She had been with us for the move only a few months earlier but being so young she just takes it in her stride. Moving can be quite a stressful time for not only you, but for your pets as well. To make it easier on them both, and to start preparing them for the separation that was soon to come we tried to follow a few simple steps:

Keep their routine: Amidst the flurry of packing, photo(3)moving, organizing essentials and buying new goods for the house the most important thing to do was to keep the routine at home. Routine is important for a dog’s well-being, especially for a working dog like a Border Collie. Feeding times, walk times, play time and bed time all stayed the same (even at the new house). To make the separation a bit easier on the girls we modified these slightly but I will talk about that in another article.

Taking the Border Collie to her new home: Prior to the actual moving day (which ended up being a day earlier than I expected!) I took the Border Collie, Cynder to the new house for a bit of a visit so she could check out the new yard and her new surrounds. This was also a great time for me to watch her behaviour and look for any potential problems (ie. areas she might try and escape, or things I would need to puppy proof). To get her used to this area I took one of her favourite toys and played fetch in the yard with her and she was instantly comfortable there.

When the actual day of moving came she was with me for the first car load. This meant that she had plenty of time to settle in the new yard with her toys, treats and bed without having to deal with all my stress. Your dog will look to you for how to react in certain situations, if I remained calm around her then she knew there was nothing to worry about.

photo(1)The Beagle, Luna visiting: As the Border Collie, Cynder and I had moved just before Christmas (I know, I’m crazy like that) it wasn’t too long before the Beagle,  Luna would be coming to spend the week with us. A would be heading over to Perth to see his family for Christmas and so the Beagle, Luna would be coming over to stay at our place. The Border Collie, Cynder had already had a few days to settle into her yard alone and she was happy to welcome the Beagle, Luna into her home.

As the week drew to an end it was time to prepare the girls for their separate lives. In the next article of the “and what happens with the dogs” series I will take a look at making the separation easier for your dogs.

Have you moved house with your pet(s)? How did you help them cope with the move?

 

When the romance ends (and what happens with the dogs)

Luna is too hotOne of the first questions that I am often asked when talking about my recent separation is “what is going to happen with the girls?”. Initially the answer to that question was fairly easy. The split between A and I was amicable and we would be continuing to live in the same house.

Unfortunately things didn’t stay that way and now, just over two months later, I have applied and been accepted for a rental so that I can get out on my own and into my own space. A and I had spoken before about what would happen with the girls if this was ever going to happen, Cynder would come with me and Luna would stay living with Antz.

This wasn’t a decision that either of us came to easily. I knew that Cynder would always stay with me, she is my heart dog and I would have done anything to keep her. It was a hard decision to make leaving Luna behind. I am where I am today because of IMG_2821her, she was the inspiration for my first serious dog blog. I’ve watched her grow up, I’ve trained her from puppyhood to the more adult, but still puppy she is today, but I know it would be a lot easier, and fairer for her to stay here. Splitting them up is not going to be easy, but I will talk about that process in another article.

Thankfully things between A and I have been rather peaceful so we could come to a mutual agreement regarding the dogs. If either of us go on holiday then the other will be the first point of call when looking for a sitter. Other options include, one partner to take full custody of the pet and the other to recieve more money in the settlement as compensation, or a shared custody arrangement where the pet swaps houses each week. This last option is not always best for the pet and can cause more stress.

IMG_1845I know that it’s not always easy, if the decision can’t be made amicably between you then there are mediation services available such as Relationships Australia, or the matter can be taken through the court system. Unfortunately, the court system doesn’t take into account the best interest of the dog as they would a child, and they also consider pets to be property rather than a part of the family.

Have you ever gone through a relationship split where you had to decide what was best for your pets? How have you dealt with it?

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