Can't Fake Liking Dogs!

Hey y'all, newbie to group and hope to find some help and support dealing with living with dogs.  Ugh.  A while back, a year or 2 ago, we agreed to "adopt" a seeing eye dog in-training, only on weekends, as part of a community service project for my daughter who was in high school at the time.  Having never been a dog lover and not growing up with dogs, I agreed to this temporary part-time arrangement for the experience for my wife, daughter as well as myself.  It seemed to be a good opportunity to "try out" having a dog.

So the first dog went on to "graduate" from the Southeast Guide Dog Association training and we said goodbye.  No problem, a good experience for all, myself included.  Training of seeing-eye dogs is admirable and I actually enjoyed the experience.  So much that I agreed to take a second dog with the same conditions.  However, after the second dog graduated and we said goodbye, my wife got a call from the Southeast Guide Dog Association and was advised that "Misty" had been selected to be a breeder dog rather than be  placed with a sight-impaired person, and did we want to keep her on a full-time basis.

Well, here's where my problem begins.  My wife agreed to adopt the dog on a full-time basis without discussing it with me!  This really pissed me off to begin with as I knew she did not ask me because she knew I would not have agreed to take the dog full-time.  We have been married over 30 years and this has become the most serious threat to our marriage so far.  However, I saw how much happiness the dog brought to her so I thought I would give it a chance.  The dog is well-behaved and is a beautiful black lab with a great disposition... but she is still...well... a dog!  She sheds hair all over the house and although my wife does all the care and cleaning for her, she sleeps in our bedroom and the smell is definitely there.

Now here's the kicker.  My daughter, who is now in college, adopted a dog of her own and brought it home for Thanksgiving.  Misty, our lab, is 75 lbs. and we have trained her to stay off furniture (even though I have had to chase her off the bed when my wife allows her to join her).  My daughter's new dog, "Doja" is a little 12lb. mutt that is always shaking and very nervous, and my daughter sleeps with her and allows her the run of the house, including up on the furniture.  Her car interior looks like mohair and the shedding is even worse than the lab.  

So now we have both dogs in the house and I haven't had the balls to put my foot down and enforce the house rules of "no dogs on furniture" as I know how much disharmony this would cause.  I look forward to my daughter's visits and I don't want to discourage her from coming home because mean old dad doesn't like her dog.  We live in a democracy and I believe in compromise (after all, isn't marriage all about compromise?) but these dogs are trying my patience.

And about compromise, I think it should work both ways, but as far as the dogs go, I'm waiting for it to go my way for a change.  I didn't want a dog to begin with, but we have a dog.  I didn't want a dog inside the house, but now we have TWO dogs in the house.  I didn't want a dog in my bedroom, but now we have a dog in the bedroom.  My bed was my final dog-free place, but I sometimes have to chase the dog off the bed, and I find myself avoiding going in the bedroom when my wife and daughter are watching  tv in there because I want to avoid a confrontation about the dogs being on the bed.

We spent the last few nights in a dog-friendly hotel while visiting my other daughter for Thanksgiving and the first night we had my daughter's dog with us and it was allowed to sleep on the bed with us.  I woke during the night with congestion and coughing; I think I may have a dog allergy but when I tell my wife and daughter this they say it's all in my head.  It's like "well get some medication for YOUR problem".

Last night I slept on the pull-out couch and let my wife and daughter and their dogs sleep in the bed.  "Lie with dogs, get up with fleas" I said as I closed the bedroom door, and slept much better not having the dogs to contend with.  I am also considering moving into one of my daughter's vacated bedrooms for peace and quiet in a dog-free environment.  Although I wear ear plugs for my snoring wife, the dog wakes me frequently during the night when she gets up and "shakes" as I envision thousands of hairs and allergens being spread throughout the room.

I just don't "get" how dog-lovers can live with this.

Lastly, if I had my druthers, I'd choose to not live with a dog, but at least at this point, I'm not willing to sacrifice our marriage and I know how much this dog means to my wife.  She spends more time and energy with her dog than with me, and she won't go anywhere if she can't take the dog.  And of course the dog demands all of her attention and it seems everything is "always about the dog".

OK, rant over, thanks for listening.  I expect that I'm not alone in this regard and I'd appreciate any coping techniques.  I did get a new motorcycle about the same time the dog came along, and like a friend said "she got a dog and you got a hawg" and that is one coping technique I have used but am still looking for more answers.
nottadoglover nottadoglover
4 Responses Nov 25, 2011

She was used as a breeder and had 3 litters and then retired and became "our dog".

The story is strange ...... if she was going to be used for breeeding why would she be given back to you?

I love dogs, but please read on.

Seems to me there is room for compromise in situations like this. I am a guide dog owner, and although I love my guide dog to bits, there are certain strict rules that I keep to, and these are not cruel to the dog, which is a pack animal and responds to a strong pack leader.

I don't think it is fair to take on a dog without everyone's agreement. Look at the resentment that you have about the dog. I wouldn't dream of taking on any animal without a lot of prior discussion. Still, what's done is done. It's awful if a dog is coming between husband and wife like that. I'm sorry, I don't have any sage advice to offer on that score.

My dog has never been allowed on to the furniture. I started the way I meant to go on, though, and it may not be easy to change the habits of an older dog. He has his own bed, and he has other places on the floor where he can lie.

Relationships with people come first, and the dog has to fit around humans.

While I'm having my dinner, the dog is told to lie down, no matter how appealing he tries to look. Pack leader eats first! He gets his food straight afterwards, and he must know this by now.

The dog is not allowed to bark more than once or twice. He does know the meaning of "That's enough!".
The law says I can take my guide dog all over the place, including the supermarket and the doctor's. In exchange, I make sure the dog is clean and properly groomed. Something like a slicker brush will remove a lot of the undercoat, but don't be harsh with it, or use it very often. A soft brush will still get rid of quite a bit of hair. My dog can shed masses in the spring, so it's important that I stay ahead of the game with grooming, otherwise I have furry carpets! Reducing the problem by grooming could help the domestic harmony, who knows?

I don't trust people who don't like dogs.

I prefer to socialize with my own species.