My Boyfriend Doesn’t Understand Why I’m Mourning My Dog

Every morning I peek to see what search terms brought people to Something Wagging This Way Comes the day before.

There’s the usual mix of funny and disturbing queries about dogs and sex. I always have a few people searching on poop, because, really, it’s all about the poop. And then there are the boring searches for dog food reviews.

But a recent phrase, although it has only come up once, sticks in my mind. It’s “My boyfriend doesn’t understand why I’m mourning my dog.”

Honey the golden retriever plays out in the snow.

My favorite movie – Dances With Golden Retrievers

I wish I could meet this visitor. Tell her that if her boyfriend doesn’t understand, millions of people who have known the love of a dog do. But even more, I want to ask her a question: Even if your boyfriend doesn’t understand, does he care that you’re mourning your dog?

I’ve been married 24 years. The list of things my boyfriend doesn’t understand about me is endless (liking opera, watching John Waters movies, being a Mac user, my inability to be spontaneous…). Heck, he wouldn’t even have a dog if he wasn’t married to me.

But whether he understands or not, my hus-friend cares that I care. And he has made room in his life (and on his couch) for things that are important to me.

Mike sits on the couch with a golden retriever, chocolate lab, and Boston terrier.

You’d think I’d be jealous to see another woman on my husband’s lap…

Yesterday, I got a day off from dog care. My husband walked the dogs, fed them both meals, and took them outside for potty breaks. My only responsibility the entire day was doing physical therapy with our foster dog, Ginny.

Mike might not understand why I need to have dogs in my life, why I get up at 5 a.m. to write about them, and why I keep bringing lovable foster dogs into our home just to say goodbye to them in a few weeks. But he cares that I care. And he supports everything I do.

Honey the Golden Retriever plays tug on the beach with her person.

So, you wouldn’t have a dog if you weren’t married to me. See what you’d be missing?

So to the person searching for the phrase, “My boyfriend doesn’t understand why I’m mourning my dog,” I’d say it might not matter if he understands. As long as he cares for you and supports you while you’re mourning your dog.

But if he doesn’t understand your grief with his head or with his heart, dump him. Dump him now.

Because the last thing you need is a jerk who makes you feel worse when you already feel bad enough.

Your Turn: Do you feel supported for the things that are important to you even if the people in your life don’t understand? Where do you go for understanding of your dog craziness?

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  1. My hubby is very supportive, and he is the one that turned me into the crazy dog lady….though some days he may think he’s created a monster! But seriously, he is always supportive and our love for animals is one thing we share that is most important. There are times I can see him looking at me in a way that tells me he thinks I’m crazy, but he never says it! He may not always understand me, but he does always support me.
    I hope that poor woman gets the support she needs too!

  2. Mom always has said that if the guy doesn’t understand the pet thing then he is out! Pets are too big a part of Mom’s life, but when you are young and crazy, you sometimes don’t understand that whole concept or you are afraid of losing a boyfriend over a pet. When you get older, you are happy to choose a pet over a boyfriend because you feel better about yourself. Lots of people out there are misunderstood with their love of pets and that is really quite sad.

  3. Excellent post! Life is too short to have someone who doesn’t care about something you love in it.

  4. While my SO would definitely mourn the loss of one of our dogs just as much as me, he truly does not get my agility obsession and it often causes friction. Fortunately, I have made plenty of like-minded friends from training classes and trials, so I know beyond a shadow of a doubt they understand 100%. I go to them with my craziness.

  5. That was a wonderful post that I totally agree with. They might not understand but indeed they need to care about your feelings. Those feelings are yours to keep with you for how ever long it takes to grieve.

  6. Well said

  7. Absolutely! Great post Pamela 🙂

  8. Don’t you sometimes wish you could reach out to some o f the people with queries that lead to your blog and tell them what you did in this post?

  9. Very good point. The biggest thing is, does he CARE about what she was going through. Does he care she is hurting? Does it really matter what it is that is hurting her? If shes hurting, her boyfriend damn better care. Even if he doesn’t understand.

    And I totally love how your husband denies loving the dogs, because you can tell he totally does. He isn’t fooling anybody, thats for sure, heh 🙂

    • Mike Webster says:

      From the Husband: a clarification.

      I don’t think I’m on record anywhere as having denied my love for our dogs. Rather, I believe I’ve said to Pam only that if it weren’t for her, I would personally choose not to have one myself.

      Why? Well, it seems to me that if you plan to be owned by a dog, you should probably be someone who would remember to feed it and walk it and take it to the vet–you know, by yourself, without having to marry someone to remind you.

      Inasmuch as our marriage has seen days in which Pam has had to consider sewing labels in my underpants to help me remember my own name, I’ve had to conclude with some regret that I am not, in fact, that kind of person.

  10. I’m glad you got to that last part. 😉

    Of course you, being the kind and compassionate person you are, assumed the possibility that the searcher’s boyfriend might care about her feelings. I would not have been so gracious (she was out seeking comfort elsewhere after all) but I’m glad you were. But I’m also glad you got to the ‘dump him’ part.

    Our partners and spouses don’t have to feel the same things we do, they don’t have to care about the same causes or creatures. But they have to care about us. That is, after all, the whole damn point. And if they don’t, we have to be the ones to care enough about ourselves to search out someone better for us.

    Well said, Pamela, as always.

  11. Vlad & Barkly's Dee says:

    My whole family is supportive of my love for my dogs. They always have been. My Daddy raised me with dogs in the family, and my husband learned of how much I loved them while we were dating. He was introduced to Fritzie the first time he came to our house. If Fritzie hadn’t have liked him, I’d have never let him into my life any further. He understood that my min-schnauzer came WITH me no matter where I lived. (Except for when I was away in college, and I missed Fritz to death.)

    I’ve never required that he love them as much as I do, but that he tolerate my love for them. He does love them though. He’s always been upset when we’ve lost one. He bought an RV so we can take our dogs wherever we go–just because the leaving-them-thought has always upset me so much. I can’t imagine having children with anyone that doesn’t at least like having dogs in their life. Someone that doesn’t understand mourning a dog doesn’t seem like a good, long-term partner to me. After all, what kind of parent would they be (if it reached that point) if they don’t understand that kind of human emotion? Children are SO much more full of emotion than adults at times. Especially when losing a pet. You can really damage a child if you don’t handle their emotions properly and be able to help them through the tough spots in life.

    Seems to me like her boyfriend would tell a child to suck it up and get over it no matter what occurred in life. To me that’s mental abuse pure and simple. She needs to dump him now before things ever progress to a REALLY serious point.

  12. Leave this Guy alone..Did he ever react to the dog or the dog to him is the more important question…Your dog Loved you unconditionally. Men Not ever.. He needs to have sympathy or Empathy, I still Mourn my dog’s death and it’s been 12 yrs….Your dog has a Heart and it’s near you forever….Love never ends it’s a complete circle…Never forget or feel foolish for loving…..

  13. Excellent post!

  14. My second husband told me he wished I loved him as much as my cats. Poor guy. I never had a problem with his other woman. In the end, we each got our way! The next man to share my life brought his own cat with him. Not married but still together after many years – we all win!

  15. Great post! The poor gal who is bemoaning the perception that her boyfriend doesn’t understand her mourning her dog has some SERIOUS soul-searching to do! And trust me, I know it isn’t an easy thing to do. If he really cares about her, then he needs to at least be supportive. But if he can’t be bothered even trying to understand her feelings, then she needs to kick him into next week! Say “there’s the door, don’t let it hit you on your way out” and then change the locks! The guy I was dating before I met Sam cared for no one but himself — and I DO mean NO ONE — not even his family. I am so glad I opened my eyes enough to see it! I’d have gotten absolutely no support from him when Kissy was ready to go to the Rainbow Bridge, even though he claimed to love her. Sam may get jealous now and then over my devotion to our 3 fur-kids, but he loves them as much as I do in his own way. And he supported me through my toughest times after we let Kissy go.

  16. Great post! I hope the girl heeds your advice.

    When my husband and I got married, I had a 7 year old cat. My hubby knew that Spooky and I were a package deal, and even though he wasn’t a cat person, he welcomed this moody Siamese kitty into his life and he never looked back.

    Spooky has been gone for many years now, but my husband and I share a common love for our dogs, Nike and Sadie. What he doesn’t seem to get, though, is how much I love EVERYONE ELSE’s dogs, including the shelter dogs I fight for every day. I’m okay with the fact that he doesn’t get it – I have many amazing online dog friends who do!

  17. Luckily, my ‘hub-friend’ shares my obsession with dogs and has mourned the losses right along with me. You are spot on though Pamela, it’s not important that he understand the feeling of loss, but that he cares enough about her to comfort her as she mourns.

  18. Great advice Pamela. I hope that person returns to your blog and reads this post!

  19. Amazing advice! I’m lucky, because I have friends who get me and my boyfriend is starting to get me. He may not understand why I spritz Canine Calm in the air, why I’m always feeling the dogs ribs and spines, and why I spend time massaging their feet and ears, but he gets me.

    He’s a “show me” kind of guy and over the years, he’s seen the proof of everything I’ve done and is now sold. If he didn’t understand or “get me” then we wouldn’t be together. It would be too hard.

  20. My hubby would be the first one to say I’m dog crazy. But in fact, it was him who had a dog when I met him and who always wanted dogs when I did not. He’s not as crazy as I am, but loves them and still mourns Jasmine too. It’s very fortunate to be on the same page.

  21. That’s why I blog, because mostly no-one I know ‘gets’ it. If I were her, I’d dump him now too!

  22. Get a new boyfriend…

  23. If he doesn’t understand how you can mourn you dog, he doesn’t understand you. He doesn’t deserve you.

  24. You bet everyone understands and if they don’t, they aren’t in my life long. I admit I am over the top, but make no apologies.

  25. very wise! and yes I know I need to “dump the jerk” but it’s just so hard! grr x