No two people think exactly alike. That’s why they have differences of opinions on various matters, including child raising. That includes pet parenting as well. Apala Bhattacharya, a writer from Mumbai, who is a pet parent to two Bombay cats says, “Problems generally happen when a pet lover gets married to someone who isn’t comfortable with pets. Disagreements on parenting are generally minor in nature if both adore pets.”
There have been many instances though wherein someone who didn’t want a pet in the home, gradually warmed up to a household pet. Patralekha Mukherji, a teacher residing in Palo Alto in the USAdidn’t want a dog as she felt that he would be a responsibility that she and her family members weren’t ready for, as their life was already quite hectic. Her husband and children however really wanted a dog. One fine day, her spouse and daughters went to an animal shelter home, telling her that they wouldn’t get a dog that day, they were casually visiting it to have a look around.
A Bichon Poodle pup came up to them, snuggled at their feet and imploringly looked at them as if non-verbally pleading to them to take him home along with them. He had been abandoned on the streets by his previous pet owner. Patralekha’s husband and kids fell in love with the dog on first sight, and couldn’t help but adopt him.
Initially, Patralekha wasn’t at all happy that a dog had been brought home. Before long, she completely fell in love with him and now takes most of the responsibilities of the dog. She gets highly perturbed even if the pet falls slightly ill.
It’s best, however, to take your partner’s permission before getting a pet. Not everyone will be like Patralekha, who grows to love the pet. Choose a type of pet and breed you are both comfortable with and can do complete justice to in terms of parental care. When one of the parents isn’t too pro-pet, he/ she sometimes feels peeved that he/ she is getting less attention because of the pet. Ensure that that doesn’t happen.
Abhigyan Jha, a director and producer from Mumbai didn’t want a pet under his roof. His wife Mrinal Jha, writer and producer from Mumbai, says, “I was pestering him for years to get a dog, but he was very restrictive.” On her birthday in 2013, Mrinal was in for a pleasant surprise. On opening what she thought was a cake box, she saw that it had a gift which was much better than a cake. There was a Beagle pup inside. Who had gifted her the pup? Abhigyan.
Abhigyan’s love for Mrinal had overpowered his anti-pet stance. Mrinal adds, “He finally realised that I really wanted a dog. I had after all grown up with one.” Like Patralekha, Abhigyan also grew fonder of the pet with every passing day. Mrinal says, “Once you get a dog, it’s like having a baby. You will fall in love with him. Now he’s more attached to our dogs and spends more time taking care of them than I do.”
The Jhas later got another dog, a male dog of Indie mix breed. They don’t have disagreements on pet parenting except on one aspect. Mrinal says, “He would indulge them with treats. I suggested that he have healthy food instead. Now, he has cut down on the treats.”
Chaitali Chaudhuri, from Gurgaon who runs a homestay in Tanhau in Uttarkhand and is a pet parent to four dogs says that she and her husband have equitably distributed all pet parenting responsibilities. This prevents squabbles on one of the pet parents not heeding to his or her responsibilities in pet child raising. She explains, “Like parents of human kids, pet parents share the responsibilities of raising their young ones. Being a mother, I'm strict about their meals- what they eat and when they eat. I monitor their medications as well. My husband Sunando sees to their exercises and indulges them with toys and treats.” She brings to our notice that when pet parents go on fighting on each and every aspect of pet parenting, the unfortunate result at times is that the pets may be left at shelter homes for adoption.
Apala Bhattacharya, says, “My husband and I have no major conflicts, except for in one area. I at times give in when my cat pleads for food from our plates when we are having our meals. Of course, I only give him those parts of our dinner which are healthy for pets as well, but my husband feels that it reinforces bad behaviour and that he may soon want to eat right from our plate. He feels that post dinner, I should give him some food on his plate instead. I realise that my husband is correct so I try to follow his advice.”
If disagreements arise on pet parenting, it’s best to settle them amicably without raising your voice, while discussing the matter. Apala says, “All pets get frightened if pet parents fight in their presence. It’s as harmful for them as it is for your human kids.”
So, who should win, when both you and your spouse are at loggerheads on pet parenting? Neither you nor your partner, but your pet’s wellbeing should win. Apala wisely says, “Do what is in the best interest of your pet.”