He wants a purebred dog. She wants a rescue mutt.
What started as a logistical discussion about getting a dog quickly became a heated, vicious fight about values and ethics.
Don’t you love those questions that seem to be about one thing, but betray a totally different, deeper problem? That’s definitely the case with today’s letter.
We could’ve recommended the obvious compromise: select a breed, then find a rescue organization that specializes in that breed! One quarter of all homeless dogs are purebreds, bro! Depending on the popularity and rarity of the breed, there may be a wait list. But if you’re patient, you can find one that fits both criteria.
… But, yeah, we didn’t even bother with that. Because it’s so incredibly obvious that the purebred dog versus shelter mutt question is the flashpoint for a deeper, more troubling issue. And it’s one we think merits a breakup.
Do you see the same thing we see?
“My girlfriend and I are in our mid twenties, and have been seeing each other for four years now. We moved in together last spring and things have been going well. I love this girl. She’s sweet, funny, interesting, pretty, and a little eccentric. She’s absolutely my dream girl and I can’t picture myself without her but we’ve been fighting for over a month and it’s been hard.
“At the end of May we decided to get a dog together. We’re both dog people, having grown up with them. Since my parents are close to a couple that breeds dogs, we’ve bought all three of our dogs from them. My girlfriend, on the other hand, had only one shelter pup
“When we first started talking about raising a dog together I asked her the standard ‘what kind of dog should we get?’ questions about what breed she preferred. And she scoffed at me and said it didn’t matter, because we would adopt a pet, not buy one. She said it like it was obvious and that I didn’t have a say otherwise. We got into an argument about the pros and cons of adopting or buying. And it just escalated from there.
“I’ll get to the point and say we both started taking it personally and said some things. I said that buying gives you better quality, and that you know what you get. She quite rudely said that if we’re paying for quality how come my family’s dogs have had health issues and died young, while her shelter dog lived to be seventeen. She said she looked down on people who’d rather pay thousands of dollars than save a life. We decided to cool down and give the discussion a rest.
“We both felt unfinished after that but let it go but then we started getting at each other for different lifestyle choices. Like how she wants to get married and have kids one day and how I’m not so sure what I want yet. And how in my family having a degree is important and to her it’s not. Sometimes we teased her about it since she only has a certificate but we never meant it rudely to her since she has a great job as a software engineer.
“She’s always been sort of indifferent to everything and said everyone has different values and the right to have different opinions should be respected. She eats meat, wears fur, buys non-organic, buys fast fashion, is non-religious, she’s fairly liberal but tends to criticize some social movements, which is all fine but my point is she’s never had a firm stance on anything. But it’s like I picked a fight about the one thing she feels strongly about and it’s been rough since then. I’m not sure what to do anymore and I need advice.”