I can’t even believe I’m writing but I saw your column and thought I’d see what you and your readers think. I’m in my early 30s and engaged to a great girl who is in her late 20s. We have a great time together, we are very much in love and can’t wait to be married next year. There is one problem which I can’t let go of. She doesn’t like my dog, as a matter of fact she grew up thinking that animals don’t have any real value. So she kicks him away, yells at him constantly and is basically mean to him. He is the nicest dog ever and I love him like family. I try to tell her to stop and I’ve bought her books about dogs but nothing stops her. When he comes into the room she yells at him to go away. And as I mentioned she kicks him when he comes near her. This is so bad that I’m noticing him withdrawing from me now and it makes me really angry with her. What should I do? I have a concern that this may affect our children one day, is this going overboard? Should I marry her and give my dog away? Please help me understand why someone would hurt a dog like this and not seem to care.
Dog lover from Austin
Dear Dog Lover,
I consulted Dr. Eric Winston at the Village Veterinary Hospital to get his opinion. He brought to my attention that over the last 25 years our perceptions about the value of animals have evolved from them being animals, to pets, to companions. This shift however is dependent on how someone is raised. If your fiancé was raised with the attitude that dogs are just animals with little value then a shift in her thought process may be all that’s needed in order for you to find peace. Her kicking the dog away certainly may not be indicative of homicidal or abusive behavior towards humans, but can have an underlying meaning which warrants exploring. He also asked a great question about how is she around children?
I also reached out to trusted friends who are dog lovers for their opinion. The consensus is that she has an anger problem and needs anger management counseling prior to marriage. Dogs and children are both vulnerable and do not have a voice. If she’s capable of hurting your dog she might be capable of hurting a vulnerable child. I wouldn’t take that chance.
There’s more to this story however such as her not valuing your feelings and her entitled attitude. Why does she think it’s ok to abuse your dog? Have you asked her this question? Why does she not listen to you when you ask her to stop? These are all big red flags and I hope you can speak up and set some conditions prior to the marriage. If you think about it, not only is your pup being abused, but you are too!
In my opinion you both could benefit from separate counseling. I’d like for you to process why you have allowed this to go on, learn ways to communicate your feelings and set boundaries. Then after she seeks therapy for her behavior my hope is you can then work together (perhaps in couples therapy) on moving forward in a healthy loving manner to include your dog.
Readers, should he insist his fiancé get counseling? Do you think her behavior is something more than just not liking animals? Does not liking animals make you a bad person?
Molly is a writer and business professional with years of experience in finance, business development and management. Her lifelong passion and learning has been focused on the understanding and complexity of relationships as well as effective communication. Originally from Texas she has lived in many cities including St. Louis and Portland finally settling in Boston where she raised her family and received her education in Business Administration. She is now living in Texas with her family and is excited to be home. Catch her daily relationship and advice column “Molly Mason- Let’s Talk Love” on www.austin.com  and “Straight Talk” in print. You can contact Molly at firstname.lastname@example.org .