Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Fiancé Refuses to Give His Dog Away”

My fiancé, “Derek,” got a dog against my wishes and refuses to give it away. That dog has made it his job to destroy the house and furniture; Derek hasn’t had him trained and the new carpet is ruined. Derek is mad because he takes the dog to daycare three times a week and the extra expense bothers him. On the other two days when he’s at work, he assumes my daughter will take care of the dog because she sorta likes the dog. I’ve made it perfectly clear I don’t want the dog — or any other pets for that matter — and I won’t be responsible for the dog or have anything to do with the dog whatsoever.

This has been going on for almost a year now and I’m resentful as hell for being forced to put up with a dog I didn’t want in the first place. I told him repeatedly to not bring a dog into the house before he got the dog, and he ignored me. I’m tired of asking him to give away the dog, I’m tired of the house smelling like dog, I’m tired of dog hair everywhere, and most of all, I’m tired of my fiancé forcing me to deal with the dog. He did admit it was a dick move to get the dog and he has apologized, but the dog is still in the house and I can’t forgive him for it. He made it a point to remind me that I live in his house and he pays for everything; I am sick and injured and have no income. I have nowhere else to go and I feel like I’m being abused by having everything thrown in my face and constantly reminded that I live in his house. I don’t know what to do and I’m at my wit’s end. Please help me. — In the Dog House

Derek isn’t going to get rid of the dog because he knows he doesn’t have to. It’s his home that he’s letting you live in because you have nowhere else to go. It doesn’t matter how much you nag and complain – Derek has either figured out how to ignore you or has decided that the consequences of having a dog are worth whatever benefits he’s getting and he doesn’t care how unhappy you are. He doesn’t care because you aren’t in a true partnership with each other; at most, you’re in a co-dependent relationship (assuming he has some dependence on you), and it’s time for you to figure out how to be independent. It should be obvious to you by now that you aren’t going to change Derek’s behavior, so you need to change your own. If you can’t stand living with a dog, move out. If you don’t have an income because you’re injured, apply for disability, look into what other kinds of assistance you may be entitled to, and tap into your support system — your family and friends — for help. Staying where you are essentially unwelcome and definitely miserable is not an option.

Clearly, your relationship with Derek — one that you describe as abusive — isn’t going to lead to a happy marriage. There isn’t a future here – not one in which you’re going to thrive, anyway. Staying with him because you have no place else to go is never going to work because it gives Derek 100% of the power and leaves you basically impotent. Frankly, the dog is just a symbol of the power imbalance in your relationship. If it weren’t this symbol, it would be another. Derek wants you to know who’s in charge; he will never let you forget it as long as you are living with him, for free, in the home he entirely pays for.

You aren’t being forced to do anything here. This is YOUR life. Take control of the wheel. Steer it away from Derek and the dog and this home where you are so very, very unhappy. If you want someone to prioritize your feelings and well-being, step up and take the role because no one else is.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

35 comments… add one
  • avatar

    cdobbs June 27, 2019, 11:58 am

    i say if it is his house and he pays for everything than he has every right to get a dog….please don’t take out your frustrations on the dog as the dog is not at fault here….if you can’t deal, then maybe you should move out

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    • avatar

      bondgirl June 27, 2019, 12:07 pm

      Agreed with this comment…and the dog isn’t the problem here, it’s the fiance. Do NOT take any anger out on the dog…or any other animal for that matter. I promise the dog isn’t actively trying to ruin your life, frankly it sounds like it NEEDS to be in obedience classes (I have no idea whether this is done during doggie day care). Try your best to move out and see what assistance you can receive for living on your own despite your disabilities.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie June 27, 2019, 12:07 pm

    I was right there with you LW until you said that it’s not your house and you don’t really contribute. You’re mooching off of him and he’s getting some kind of satisfaction from it. I’d say that having the dog is his way of saying that he’s fine if you stay and shut up and he’s fine if you leave.

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    • avatar

      Dedok June 27, 2019, 3:13 pm

      LW is looking for advice on how to win this power struggle.
      1. LW should really take charge of this situation and use her free time to obedience train the dog. She seems to have free time to do it and there are lots of great instructions on youtube.

      2. Get accidentally pregnant. That will put a ring on a finger after 1 year of living together and he will have to get rid of the dog. This is obviously sarcasm… 🙂

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  • avatar

    Miss MJ June 27, 2019, 12:21 pm

    I think Derek should keep the dog and dump the LW. What an amazing sense of entitlement she has. She lives in Derek’s house rent-free, pays for nothing, apparently complains about everything, has a horrific fucking attitude and then whines that she’s being “abused” because he’s got a dog and he reminds her that it’s his house? Come the fuck on. Really? LW, do everyone a favor and move out, already. Get your life together, get some financial independence and, for the love of god, get a better attitude.

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    • avatar

      sarcastic clap June 27, 2019, 2:51 pm

      LW needs a real life advice on how to win this power struggle. Perhaps, she will respond back in a year to tell us that she accidentally got pregnant and it solved all of her issues with Derek.

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    • avatar

      AttackKitten June 29, 2019, 12:11 pm

      No kidding! And am I correct in assuming not only the LW is sponging off him? But her daughter is too, since the daughter apparently takes care of the dog the two days it doesn’t go to day care? Holy crap, get your shit together and take responsibility for your life lady! (And man do I use that term loosely)

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  • avatar

    ele4phant June 27, 2019, 12:45 pm

    I think the dog is the least of your problems here…

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  • avatar

    Buttery June 27, 2019, 1:34 pm

    Wow this is crazy in many ways – I mean you’re living rent and responsibility free but being super demanding…? WITH your daughter there? I can’t imagine being unwilling to care for or have my kid care for a dog a couple days a week when someone is providing me – us – with a place to stay.
    Now I will say its kind of not very nice what he did but he does have the right to do it and frankly it sounds like his way of lashing out. I think he’s fed up and was hoping this would get you out.
    But for your own sake you should try to figure out what you can do cuz it kind of sounds like you’re spiraling or something. Change up your mindset!

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  • avatar

    Fyodor June 27, 2019, 1:46 pm

    I don’t agree with the people who are saying that she should STFU because she’s not contributing financially. They are engaged to be married and are equal partners with an equal say over their shared living arrangements.

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    • avatar

      CanadaGoose June 27, 2019, 2:50 pm

      Fyodor, the thing is, they AREN’T equal partners. She is a dependent. It does not sound like she contributes much to their living situation – home all day and forcing him to pay even more money to send his dog to daycare because she doesn’t like it and refuses to do so much as let it out? Come on. Getting a dog over her objections was not nice but given he supports her AND her child (from the sounds of it), then it’s not unreasonable for her to compromise to give him something he wants since she is living off him. It’s not abuse to tell her it’s his house and he supports her – it is a fact, and clearly said to her when she’s been complaining about the dog. Contributions between partners don’t have to be financial to be equal but this woman sounds like she cares only about her own wants and not about her partner’s. It does sound like he resents that. She should find a way to move out and support herself.

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      • avatar

        keyblade June 27, 2019, 10:18 pm

        They aren’t financial equals but “dependent” seems to me to have more to do with taxes than a relationship. It can’t always indicate a lack of “partner” or nobody with a long-term terminal illness would be considered partners. People decide for themselves what they consider to be an “equal” “partner.

        I’d be furious if my husband bought a dog he knew I didn’t want because he thought I was too sick to immediately leave him. It seems especially cruel towards his dog. Most seem pack-oriented and social and the dog can probably pick up that the letter writer doesn’t like it, especially if its still a puppy.

        If her boyfriend wanted the dog over the relationship he could have at least warned her, unless she gave him good reason not to. But now she knows where she is in his life and hopefully she can end things and move on for the sake of everyone in the house.

        Hopefully this letter writer lives somewhere she can receive Medicaid if she is to sick to work and has people she knows who will be willing to help her and her child find affordable, suitable housing of some kind.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant June 28, 2019, 6:19 pm

        So I can’t speak to their particular relationship – she absolutely could be lazy and mooching off him, but I think it’s dangerous territory to say that you are not an equal to your spouse if you don’t financially contribute.

        What about stay-at-home moms? Are they not equal decision makers in their relationships?

        What about a women who runs does 100% of running the household so her working husband doesn’t have to do a thing when her husband gets home.

        By making her his fiance, he’s said, to her and the world, that he wants her to his life partner. The amount of respect and input our partners give us should not be contingent on how much money (or if) we bring in.

        If he thinks she’s leeching off him, by all means he needs to address that and ask/insist that changes be made for their relationship continue. But he doesn’t get to just disregard her and keep making big unilateral decisions. If he’s serious about marrying her, it’s going to be their house and their money.

        If that makes him nervous, he shouldn’t intend to marry her.

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  • avatar

    Molly June 27, 2019, 2:33 pm

    It’s not your home. I understand you live there, but he is paying for the dog and it is his decision. If he considers that dog a part of his family then that is his decision to keep the dog. If it really upsets you that much, then you need to find a new living situation.
    If you don’t want to leave then and you’re tired of the house smelling like dog, hey why don’t you help train the dog? Some dogs require a lot of training, but once trained, will be a great asset to your household.

    In conclusion, I do not think it is your place to ask him to get rid of the dog, in the end it is his home.

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  • avatar

    csp June 27, 2019, 3:02 pm

    LW – This sounds like a situation where he figured you would love the dog once you saw it. I feel like people say this with children too. But I agree that this is time for you to take control of your life. It is time to be a self rescuing princess. I understand that you are sick and injured, but can you get assistance? Or find a low impact job. What about at home transcription. Or medical billing from home? This isn’t about the dog, it is feeling like you are trapped and don’t have control. So take control.

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  • avatar

    ArtsyGirl June 27, 2019, 3:06 pm

    Honestly the LW has two options. She accepts the dog or she and her daughter moves out of the house. She is not going to force Derek to give up his pet. Honestly in her shoes, I would hunt up a dog training book from the library and watch some dog training videos online – nice free resources to try to make the situation better. It is possible the dog is still a puppy and good training could make it less destructive. Furthermore, the LW should look into ways to support herself and her daughter. It sounds like she has zero income (or at least does not contribute to any of the bills) which could put her in a perilous situation if she and Derek don’t end up working out. Even if she needs to apply for disability and governmental support, that would go a long way in insuring she has some financial power.

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  • avatar

    Poppy June 27, 2019, 3:54 pm

    So he admitts he got the dog to be a dick. Wow. That’s really juvenile. Did he educate himself on how to care and train a dog? I’m a dog lover and have two fur babies and I get not all people love animals or my fur babies the way I do. Some people think its nasty to have an animal inside esp, if they are pooping and peeing inside. Animals have unpleasant odors and you have to stay on top of it. So I can understand your frustration. You guys are engaged to be married which means that you both have to be fair and in line with each other. He is wrong to have gotten the dog just cause he wanted to be a dick but heres the thing, its been a year and he apparently isnt getting rid of the dog. Clearly your feeling are irrelevant to him . Theres a thing called a crate and a person called a dog walker. Its not hard to train a dog when its a puppy but it sure gets alot difficult the older it gets. If he has a back yard thats not fenced in then maybe he should look into that option. Im sorry you are sick and injured to the point that it physically limits you to work but you do have other options. I don’t know if you have taken the steps to get on disability or get assitance. I get that the comfort of his home is a better option than being homeless but your an adult who can make your own choices. At the end of the day this is your fiances home and he pays his bills along with your bills(I assume). He is the reason you have a roof over your head and food in your belly. I suggest marriage/couples counseling before the I do’s.

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    • avatar

      ron June 28, 2019, 9:55 am

      No he did not admit that he got the dog to be a dick. He wanted a dog, so he got a dog. He admitted it was a dick move to go ahead with his wish, knowing how strongly she objected.

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      • avatar

        Poppy June 28, 2019, 2:48 pm

        Which ultimately is being a dick

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  • avatar

    Alison June 27, 2019, 11:20 pm

    When my fiancé was younger his sisters wanted a dog and he did not. They said they would look after it but ultimately the responsibility fell on him. He still is unsure about getting a dog but after much discussion, we have agreed to get a dog later when we are a bit more settled into our new rental. This is called compromise and something that the LW and her own fiancé should have done. Yes, he went out and got himself which was a dick move but he can’t just go get rid of it because the LW doesn’t like, the dog has done nothing wrong except be brought into an unhealthy relationship!!

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  • avatar

    Laura June 28, 2019, 2:57 am

    It’s interesting, I don’t want to be cruel – and I didn’t think this until the end of the letter where you explained the living situation. I wonder how you are any different than the dog In Derek’s eyes. Essentially you are just as dependent as the dog, and it’s INSANE this man can’t rely on you and your daughter to help with the dog when you LIVE OFF HIS DIME. He’s not married to you, getting rid of you would be easy. And taking you in with A KID?! He’s a saint. You are not entitled to a free place to live. You’re just awful – anyone who hates dogs so much always strikes me as cold. How have you not bonded with a living, vulnerable creature in a years time? You turned something helpless into a symbol of your discontent. I usually don’t respond to these things, but I cannot believe how incredibly selfish you are. Reminding you that you live under his roof and live off of his money, while you sit around with your kid at home doing fuck all is not abuse. Abuse is not giving a shit what happens to this creature that is defenseless – one that you could have fostered if you had heart. I hope your fiancé puts you and your daughter, who you’re raising as a jerk, out. What on earth could you possibly bring into the relationship ?!

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    • avatar

      saneinca June 28, 2019, 1:21 pm

      Laura, you are a dick!
      A human being is and should be valued much higher than a animal.
      If you feel otherwise perhaps the guy ( and presumably you) should get married to a dog

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    • avatar

      Poppy June 28, 2019, 2:56 pm

      Dogs are not defenseless creates. I assure you they can survive without humans but its survival of the fittest. To declare a person heartless because they arent animals lovers is ignorant. In relationships you are allowed to have compromises and boundaries. Its a matter of respect. If he knew she didnt want the dog and still got the dog then that means they arent meeting in the middle and need to reevualte their relationship. She doesnt have to love the dog, that is her right. That doesnt mean shes a bad person. @saneinca lets not promote beastality lol laura might actually be up for that.

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      • avatar

        Poppy June 28, 2019, 2:57 pm

        Creature*

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      • avatar

        ele4phant June 28, 2019, 3:51 pm

        I disagree hard with most of Laura’s advice, but a domesticated dog really does rely on human beings to have it’s needs met. I mean maybe some could hack it if they were turned lose and they could survive as a feral dog, but most dogs that are cooped up in a house rely on human beings to be fed, toileted, and kept out of dangerous situations (like keeping them in a fenced yard so they don’t run into traffic).

        I understand that the LW doesn’t want to care for the dog, and I don’t think it SHOULD be her responsibility (he got the dog, he needs to figure out how make sure the dog is cared for) but if she shoves the dog into a room by itself all day while her fiance is at work, or refused to help it if it were in distress, that would be pretty abusive and neglectful (which it doesn’t sound like she does, but just saying).

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    • avatar

      ele4phant June 28, 2019, 3:29 pm

      Well! Someone loves dogs!

      Look, this relationship seems terrible outside the dog, and it does get tricky in that she isn’t able to contribute financially to this household, but this is about the most ridiculous thing I’ve read in a bit:

      ” You’re just awful – anyone who hates dogs so much always strikes me as cold. How have you not bonded with a living, vulnerable creature in a years time? ”

      Some people just don’t like dogs. Don’t like their personalities, so they resent the amount of work they demand. Being around one of them for a year doesn’t change that. It’s not clear to me that she is abusing or neglecting the dog, that would be bad, but just resenting having to care for it and not ever warming to it? Sheesh.

      We can argue about whether he’s entitled to have a dog without getting her buy-in because he pays for everything. Some may say yes, it’s his house that he pays for with his money and gets no financial help from her; I would argue that a true partnership doesn’t have to be equal to be fair; partners can contribute in different ways and the partner that is better off financially doesn’t get to lord over the other, people can contribute in different ways and still be considered an equal in decision making powers. They both agreed to this living situation, he didn’t have to let her move in, and he doesn’t get to be her boss just because he pays for everything. At most, he can ask her to move out if he feels she’s mooching off him.

      But regardless, this is HIS dog. He unilaterally chose to get it, that makes him unilaterally responsible for training it and making sure it’s cared for.

      She may not have a right to say no to him bringing a dog into the household, but he doesn’t get to unilaterally make her the designated caretaker for the dog.

      They should definitely break-up, but it’s because this seems like a dumpster fire of a relationship, and quite frankly, she’s pretty powerless here and he seems to know it and doesn’t care about her interests, at all.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous xx June 28, 2019, 5:41 am

    Why do the partners (who didn’t want pets) of several people I know (who were desperate to have dogs or other pets) end up taking care of the pets? The partners didn’t want the responsibility but the actual pet owners are neglectful or too busy due to other commitments. My tally based on observation is 75 percent. I am not including couples where both wanted the pets and care for them as needed. The partners argued against getting the pets but ended up doing most of the work because they did not want the animals to suffer.

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    • avatar

      saneinca June 28, 2019, 1:30 pm

      Agreed. Sometime back there was a letter on the same topic in this site from a woman who was working from home and her BF/husband got a dog against her objection but left her to take care of it throughout the day.

      WTF

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  • avatar

    brise June 28, 2019, 8:21 am

    I think that you are stuck because you set yourself in competition with a dog, as your signature shows (in the dog’s house). It is Derek’s house vs dog’s house vs your house. The fact is, if you are to marry, you will be an entity as a couple. And it doesn’t seem that you are. Your partner can’t make such a choice that has real everyday consequences against your will – even though it is his house. Marriage doesn’t work like this. On the other hand, what are you bringing to the relationship? What do you do for the house? Do you clean, wash the clothes, make the groceries? It seems unbalanced and that is a red flag.
    I understand that it is in your interest to get married given your circumstances. But take care: to be reproached your disability everyday is not sustainable for you either. I would have a conversation with Derek. Ask him how to address the dog situation reasonably (use this word) as a couple, as you are to get married. First, he should understand that this can’t happen again (such a behavior – you must agree on big decisions that affect your couple’s everyday life, this is a matter of respect for each other). Then, you have to find a solution for this dog. It seems useless to ask him to get rid of it. This won’t happen. So find a compromise: he should at least train it. And then share the tasks: what will he do for the dog? what will you do, what your daughter will do for the dog? Distribute the responsibilities as a responsible couple: he can’t just load that work onto you, but you can’t also just ignore it and ask for it to disappear.
    Then address the real issue: does he have a problem with you living in his house with your daughter without contributing financially? Ask the real question and listen to the answer. If yes, what can you do to compensate? House work is work and has a value. So point it out if you actually make a cleaning work: estimate the week time at the usual price: this is your contribution to the rent. Can you work also part time to get an income, like at home? Disability help, try everything. If you are unable to do any work, and depend entirely on him, you have no leverage and such an imbalance is not sustainable in a marriage. You can’t expect him to host you like at hospital. What would you do if he decided to end the relationship? Think of it, there must be options.
    In short: don’t mix the dog problem with the marriage problem. Dog is not in competition with you. Treat it as an everyday life issue that your couple has to address reaonably as a couple.

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  • avatar

    Jessica June 28, 2019, 10:20 am

    I think you sound like a spoiled brat. It’s his house and apparently his money so if he wants a dog he should be able to get a dog. If my fiance told me I couldn’t have my dog because he didn’t like her I would probably leave him. Nobody is going to tell me what I can or can’t have and it sounds like your fiance feels the same way. There has to be more going on in your relationship than not wanting him to have a dog. I think if you love him you’ll learn to live with it, and if not maybe you need to find more accommodating living arrangements.

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    • avatar

      Ele4phant June 28, 2019, 4:53 pm

      So couple of things –

      First off, I can’t really say if she’s a freeloader or not, but in the abstract, I don’t like the implication that because one partner makes more contributions financially, it means they get to dictate how it’s going to be to the other. You can be equal partner without making your contributions in the same way. Does she contribute equally in other non monetary ways? I don’t know, maybe not. But the two of them agreed to this set up, if he feels it’s unfair he needs to address that with her and come to a compromise or break up with her. He doesn’t get to make unilateral decisions all the time.

      Secondly – I think it’s a little different to compare your partner asking you to get rid of a dog you already have, vs her asking him not to get a dog in the first place. Furthermore, while I would agree it’s unacceptable for your partner to tell you to get rid of a dog you already have, you also don’t get to tell your partner they have to take care of that dog for you. It’s your dog, you take care of it.

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  • avatar

    LW June 28, 2019, 11:55 am

    I do clean the house, run his errands and handle his affairs while he’s at work

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  • avatar

    dinoceros June 28, 2019, 1:04 pm

    You can’t see the forest for the trees. The problem isn’t the dog. The problem is that you’re engaged to someone who doesn’t care about your opinion, has no desire to compromise and doesn’t at all feel compelled to make you happy/resolve conflict with you. I think all the advice about how to handle the dog situation is honestly irrelevant. If you solve this problem — if he gets rid of the dog, if he trains it, whatever — do you seriously think that you’ll never run into any other situations where he does whatever he wants and ignores you when you raise concerns?

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    • avatar

      dinoceros June 28, 2019, 1:07 pm

      And I get that currently you are dependent on him, but if you had never met him, if he left you, or if he (sorry to say this) died or became disabled himself, how would you live? Being with this guy is not the only way to support yourself. It will be hard, but it’s not enough to resign yourself to a lifetime of unhappiness to avoid trying to fix this situation.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark June 29, 2019, 1:16 am

    He probably got the dog as a passive aggressive way to clear his life of user dead weight. That’s my hot take on this letter.

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