When your date prioritizes his dogs over humans: Selfless? Or obnoxious?

Dearest Kelsey,

Yes, we’re very different. I’m all heart and impulse, and perhaps smell, and you’re all head and rational lists. 

In your last post, you asked me how to get out of your head, and warned me that you’d throw a bird at me if my advice for you was to just take a leap of faith and let yourself feel. So I won’t do that. (Not because I’m scared of having a bird thrown at me: Wouldn’t the bird just make his own directional decision when you released him?) But because I care about you. And about you finding a great partner for you.

So I know this isn’t terribly helpful, but I think you just need to pretend to be me, ever so slightly. Shouldn’t be so hard. You have known me for 18 years. And on my end, I commit to this: The the next time I come across a perfectly good man—like the dude I disqualified because he microwaved his eggs—I will try to overlook breakfast habits and go on another date.

New subject: Dog owners.

Friday night plans were in the works with a new man. He suggested I head to his place—45 minutes, one bridge and one tunnel away—to take his dogs for a walk.

(The traditional woman in me is always slightly perturbed when the man doesn’t offer to drive in the woman’s direction, but I’m trying to be less weird and more modern about that, so I agreed to go).

Partway through the night, a yellow flag emerged:

He thanked me for heading his way because he doesn’t ever like leaving the dogs alone, to which I asked, “Well what do you do with them when you’re on vacation?” 

“I just go on vacations where I can bring the dogs, like camping,” he says. 

Hmmmm…Just how far does this dog commitment go?

Fast forward a week: We plan to meet up again and he attempts to choose a day he can come to me this time, and is, once again, limited by the dogs (who he time shares with his ex-wife). She doesn’t take the dogs again for 10 days, so he plans an evening no less than 10 days in the future when he can escape and drive to Vancouver for a couple hours to go for dinner. 

I can’t stop myself from inquiring, so I ask: “So let me get this straight. Dogs mean you can’t ever leave the house in the evenings, even for a couple hours?”

“No, not if I can’t bring them with me. I would feel too guilty,” he says. “I guess I just put them before myself.”

Needless to say, I will not be meeting this man in 10 days if his ex-wife does indeed follow through with the dog pick-up.

My question to you: Is this normal behaviour? To never leave your 4 and 6-year-old dogs alone? Or am I just incredibly heartless? Is there just a pet gene that I’m missing?

I think there might be, because when I told the story to my hairdresser, she said—without hesitation— that she would save her cat over a random human being she didn’t know if she was ever forced to choose. And what about my friend who feeds his dog an organic, grass-fed, skinless, boneless chicken breast from Whole Foods for dinner each night, while he stops at Wendy’s four nights a week for a Baconator?

While it feels aggressive to create one of those dating lists you love so much and place “no dog owners” at the top, I think I’d rather the guy has a kid than a dog: At least children eventually grow up and can be left home alone.

That being said, should I ever go the dating list route, I know what I will place at the top: No to the bridge-tunnel combo!

Published by emilybeers

Emily Beers is a freelance health, fitness and nutrition writer. She has also been coaching fitness at MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, B.C. since 2009. A former college basketball player and rower, Emily became heavily involved in CrossFit after finishing her Masters degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario. She competed at the 2014 CrossFit Games and also worked with CrossFit Inc.’s media team for 8 years. You can also find her work at Precision Nutrition , the Whole Life Challenge, OPEX, amongst a host of other fitness and nutrition companies and media outlets. Follow her on Instagram @emilybeers7 and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/emily.beers.37).

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