kyle- you’re right that structure is gonna be important now that you have a dog in your life- just like it would be if you shared parentage of a child. as you’re responsible for your little 4-legged persons wellbeing and safety through their entire life, you two need to work through some basic stuff and get on the same page with it NOW, to avoid encountering huge problems that need resolving very quickly, or which left unresolved could cause massive issues later.
for example, you might want to look at:
-where does the dog live, and when? -50% of the time at your home and 50% at hers? yours at the weekend, hers during the week?- is it structured so that the dog knows whether he’s coming or going, is he receiving the same food at different homes so that his tummy doesn’t get screwed up, etc?
-who has custody of the dog should a breakup occur (realistically it is something that might happen in the next 10 years or so) and does the other party get visitation? what if heaven forbid the party caring for the dog post-breakup gets sick or dies- does the other party automatically take the dog, or is his wellbeing and continued existance left in the hands of their current partner/friends/family?
-who can make medical decisions for the dog (emergency vet care, medication decisions for longterm health complaints, arrange euthinisation should the dog become terminally ill, etc) and do they need consent of other parties- or even to inform them before proceeding?
-who pays for dog food, insurance, vet care, and general dog-related expenses? what happens should they become unable to do so, either pre- or post- breakup?
-is any money being put in trust, or are wishes about the dogs care made clear in a will, AND to friends and family- incase something unfortunate happens to both of you guys? have dog-rescue-parents been lined up and agreed to take on the role if you need it? do they know the address of your dogs vet, understand his health needs, know about his favourite toy, where he likes to sleep at night, etc?
what if someone wants to go on vacation with a friend or another ‘partner’? -can they take the dog without letting the other dog-parent know, or without getting their express ok that they’re comfortable with the dog spending an unknown amount of time under the care of someone you don’t perhaps know very well, if at all?
this sort of stuff might seem like overkill now, but getting it all sorted out and on paper BEFORE there is a problem will seriously avoid a lot of heartache and pain for all 3 of you further down the road- it’ll also be a huge plus legally should everything go wrong and someone lose their marbles and decide to storm off across the country with the dog in tow.
whether co-parenting a pup means you two have to be exclusive or not is really upto the two of you to work out in your own time and way, but the other stuff… i wouldn’t stall on it- talk to her. i’d express very clearly that your concern is about knowing that the dog is gonna be safe, happy, and cared for during its entire life, not about controlling anyone, or trapping them, and see what comes about.
maybe she’s thinking in the same direction as you are, and wishes you’d rock the boat just a little, maybe she’s not, and runs like hell- but at least the day to day welfare of the little furry person who relys on you for absolutely everything will have been looked at on both a practical and emotional level, and some realistic thinking might have been poked into happening.
my post might seem dramatic, but i volunteer for a cat rescue charity, and for every middle-aged cat that is given over to our care with money in trust to ensure her happy adoption by a new family, and lifelong well-being following their owners death, we rescue a good 10 cats who have been dumped by family-members or partners into high-kill shelters following a death, breakup, or change of circumstances- sweet and gentle little kitties who are in great health, but who through no fault of their own find themselves bundled absolutely petrified into a strange, loud and smelly place, separated forever from their feline and canine family members and human family, – much less than 72 hours away from being euthanised. i don’t even wanna think about the hundreds that we don’t manage to pull out of those places because we just can’t practically or financially do so- i don’t want your pup to be added to the ‘didn’t make it’ statistics list either.REPORT ABUSE