Dear Mistress Maeve,
My girlfriend of five months is still having issues with her ex-girlfriend. They share custody of a 4-year-old black lab. (Let's call him "Cujo" because he's killing our relationship.) In the beginning, everything was fine. Cujo spent every other weekend with the ex, and it was convenient when we wanted to go on vacation (built-in dog sitter). However, the ex just moved into a new apartment building that doesn't allow dogs, so she's insisting that she be able to visit Cujo when my girlfriend is at work (this would require her having a key). We have a weekend getaway planned next month, and the ex wants to stay at my girlfriend's apartment and watch the dog. My girlfriend doesn't want the ex in her apartment, but she feels obligated (the ex had to move into her new apartment building because it was all she could afford after my girlfriend kicked her out). It just feels like too much to me, especially given that they aren't on good terms and the ex is constantly doing mean, manipulative things to my girl. Am I overreacting?
Must Love Dogs
I hate to break it to you, but Cujo is not ruining your relationship. If anything is to blame, it's your girlfriend's inability to let go of the leash tethering her to her old relationship.
Sharing custody of pets is often the most emotionally responsible thing to do, both for the pets and the parents; however, it's important to maintain appropriate break-up boundaries in the process. While it's sad that the ex cannot have dogs at her new place, it's not your girlfriend's responsibility. If maintaining joint custody of Cujo is that important, the ex will have to continue looking for affordable, dog-friendly accommodations. Until then, she can take Cujo to the dog park and on camping trips - activities that do not require a key to the house. Period.
In the doghouse,