Co-parenting the Puppy


Our dog Shiloh is the most loving dog I have ever known. Obedient, emotional, and playful. I forgot how much a part of my life she was until this past week.

The boys recently when camping with their mother and friends and decided to leave Shiloh at home. Apparently, not finding another sitter, my ex turned to me to take care of the dog. While there are a number of things that have bothered me about this scenario, I want to focus on the dog sitting. Not out of any inconvenience to me or annoyance at the situation, but on reflection.

Shiloh came into our lives while my youngest not yet a year old, barely walking. With me traveling a little more for work, my wife desired company around the house and thought getting a dog would help. Having owned a couple dogs as a child each with their own special memories I thought it would be great for the boys as well. Reluctant at first, I was easily sold and became invested myself. Instead of pet stores we turned to shelters and had almost given up when she crossed our path.

In fact, the puppy we last went to meet at the shelter came with a sibling and we didn’t have space for two. However, they had another available that was not yet on the website. Just a year old, she had just been returned due to a family moving and she couldn’t join them. However, she was still a happy pup and bonded with our family well. I can still see her taking up a spot next to my youngest as he ventured across the gated area, the connection between them was instant. And she became part of our family.

She was already house broken and knew several commands, so there was not much to teach. We took a little bit to get her walking calmly in public, but I think that was more her age and energy than anything else. She use to pull us around the area on our rollerblades, which made the walks more enjoyable for all. Countless times it was just her and I at the house, I would take lunches at home and took extra time during the morning and evening walks. Yet, at the end of the day, she was my wife’s pet.

Thus, when we separated, I knew who she should primarily go with. Consistency for the children and for all of us was my greatest concern, and Shiloh staying at her house seemed to be the right decision. Unfortunately, where I first found residence did not allow pets so we didn’t work in any time-sharing. If I was needed, I stayed at the house. With a souring relationship with the ex made the dreams of us all spending time at the park seemed to vanish. When she was injured I was unable to provide addition financial assistance, and I felt that was resented. It was another wedge in the splitting timber.

That brings us back to today. Day-to-day coparenting is tough, and managed primarily through parent hand-offs being done at the school or at summer camp. We do our best to co-parent, focus as much as possibly on the children but even after almost two years emotions can still run high and resentments run deep. Thus we find ourselves essentially as we did when I first left. While my residence has changed and she can come visit today, the times remain infrequent if not completely random. Drop-off/Pick-up is difficult to coordinate and any vet bills just add fuel to a fire that doesn’t seem to want to die down.

Practically speaking, it is probably best. I can work long hours and no longer live within a distance for lunches at home. I know it sounds like weak excuses, and they may just be my self-justifications, but as with my children the main goal is to provide the best life possible for them.

OutsideWhen I was asked to take her over the weekend I was thus thrilled. While it took a few hours to settle into the place, I think she really started to feel at home here. She has been here before, but it feels like forever ago now. When the boys came home they asked if she could stay for a bit longer. We agreed, since I had some time off work and they were on spring break seemed like a good time for a visit. Our youngest has been asking for a while now, so I know it was important for him.

This experience made me sit back and reflect. Life needed to go on, and the overall time-sharing of the pets might have resulted more than our emotions could bare. However, they are part of the family. To ease the transition for both us and the children we split toys, stuffed animals, and pictures. Now I am left wondering if we left a major component of the house out. I know the place felt more like home with her here, did the boys?

My only annoyance with the situation is that I wasn’t the first call she made, however, I am extremely thankful that I got the opportunity. I only hope we can do it again very soon.

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