Making the Right Choice for Your Animals After A Breakup

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Alexis Cengiz from Sydney, NSW writes: My partner and I recently broke up after several years together. We have two dogs, a Daschund and a Maltese terrier, whom are the best of friends, we bought them together. How do we decide who keeps the dogs? And is it possible to split them up?

Just like children, organising animals after a breakup of partners can be heart breaking, frustrating and requires a lot of empathy from both parties. Knowing that you may not ever see them again can be harder to deal with than the breakup! However, it is our responsibility to ensure our animals get the best possible outcome, and even if it means they may not live with us anymore. So how do you make the right choice for your pets, and what do you need to take into consideration?

Your Animal’s Choice

Here at Animal Talk we can ask the animal how they feel about the situation, and what they would like to do. The animal must have their say in the decision, as they may wish to go with a preferred partner, or with neither. With many of my clients, the animal may choose the home with the most stability and serenity. Their world has been turned upside down, and their future seems unknown. If there is more than one animal, their friendship needs to be taken into consideration and every effort needs to be made to keep them together. If there are children involved, sometimes the animals will prefer to go where the children go. The best way to find out is to ask your animals. Knowing what your animal needs, certainly takes the pressure off you and your ex partner and a harmonious solution can be reached.

Providing Financial Support

This is where we need to get realistic. Now that you are on your own, can you afford to look after your animal(s)? Can you continue to provide the vet bills, diet and health care that your animal has become accustom? This is a tricky one, and you do need to assess it carefully before taking on the responsibility. Having an amicable friendship with your ex partner can help, as you may be able to continue to split the costs of your animals or one of you covers the finances and the other is your pet’s caretaker. It also aids in the animal’s emotion recovery as they will get to spend time with all members of the family they love.

As was the case with a client of mine named Sarah whom had a 5 year old Ragdoll named Charlie she had bought with her partner Nick whilst they were together. When their relationship came to an end, Sarah and Nick came to the agreement that Nick would cover the finances for up to a year and Sarah would get to keep Charlie. Nick was too busy running his business, so he was happy to cover the costs whilst Sarah was Charlie’s primary caretaker and had the time and appropriate living space to devote to him. Sarah was also happy for Nick to visit Charlie. It was their love and devotion to Charlie that made them put their differences aside so they could do what was right for him. Amazing what the love of an animal can create, isn’t it?

Quality Time

We feel a roller coaster of emotions when going through a breakup. You have days where you can’t move, and a lot of the time you are on autopilot, hardly in the present moment. It is our animal’s presence and need of us that helps pull us back into reality. However, if you are not jolted into reality can you provide the time and commitment your animals need? Are you working long hours or running a busy social schedule? Can you make time to give your animals the exercise, playtime and attention they are used to and will need generally not to mention in a post-breakup? Are you emotionally stable to provide love, care and devotion to your animals at this time? The answer is probably no and that is understandable for a time, but you need to be careful that your animals are not neglected and resume your responsibility as soon as possible. Rememebr they are not responsible for people’s decisions. A client named Rebecca came to me about this very situation regarding her dog Keira. Rebecca had come out of a nasty breakup that made her reluctant to go outside and she wanted to let Keira know that she was sorry for not keeping up with their usual routine of activities. When I spoke to Keira, she said she understood her mum’s pain, but she couldn’t hide inside forever, and that going outside together would help put some fun back into Rboth their lives. There had been enough sadness. It was Keira’s needs that helped Rebecca get back on her feet and get on with life. Our animals are so selfless and supportive, how could we not give this back to them?

Sharing Your Animals’ Love

It is quite common for couples to bring animals into their home together. A lot of people see it as the first step to creating a family together. However, when an unexpected breakup occurs, it can be quite difficult to navigate how to share your animal’s love and attention between the two of you. Never allow your anger towards your partner create a vindictive situation. Such as insisting that you have guardianship over the animals because you want to get back at them by holding their animals to ransom. These are real lives you are dealing with and not a game you are playing.Maintaining a civil relationship will allow you and your partner to work out an agreement for visitation rights. Remember you will have a wonderful babysitter that your animal knows and can count on when you can’t be there for them.

A client of mine named Lillian and her ex partner Ian had rescued two pugs Hugo and Misty when they were together. Lillian and Ian came to me to find out how the dogs felt about the split up and whom did they wish to live with. As much as the two dogs loved Lillian, they were devoted to Ian, as he would take them on great outdoor adventures and they would have a backyard if they lived with him. Lillian was a little hurt, but understood that it was the best thing for Hugo and Misty. Ian was relieved, as he really wanted to keep the two dogs, and he and Lillian set an agreement that Lillian could visit the dogs when she wanted to and she would babysit the dogs whenever Ian was away. This scenario is one of the best possible outcomes for your animal, and it takes a lot of respect, harmony and selflessness for your animals to create it.


No matter what situation you find yourself in, it is best to stay objective and strong to give your animals the best possible outcome. At the end of the day, your animals are your captives – they need your help to eat, sleep, exercise and receive love attention, but most of all to put their interests first. They give you endless devotion, unconditional love and want nothing but the best for you – don’t they deserve to be happy too?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

About the author 

Trisha Mc Cagh

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