Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford
Stressful Break-ups and Pets
Often during the course of a relationship couples will not only share secrets, a home, their lives but pets as well. Typically, when a pet is purchased or adopted during the course of a relationship no one contemplates who should assume custody of the pet should the relationship end. The sharing of an animal between a couple can increase both intimacy, affection, communication, and serve as a parenting foundation for future children. However, as with relationships that contain children couples can become locked in a heated debate regarding the custodial arrangements of the child or children. The same heated battle can occur when there are shared during the relationship. Couples both married and unmarried have waged legal battles against each other in an attempt to retain sole custody of a pet. Like most cases, pet custody cases can be both lengthy and very expensive. There are often no winners in these types of cases as both parties are either unable to or unwilling to come to a mutually agreed upon solution or compromise.
There is no denying owning a pet has several benefits for pet owners. Pets can serve provide extraordinary companionship for their owner and others that have difficulty socializing with others. Professionally, I find using pets with children that are on a spectrum can be an integral part of the therapeutic process. Some children that experience difficulty engaging with other children or managing negative moods can use the animal as an icebreaker when meeting knew people, coming out of his or her shell, and learning how to gently touch another person or animal without harm or injury. Many children have been helped by simply cuddling with, caring for, or stroking the animal allowing for a de-escalation of unwanted heightened mood.
Couples like children benefit from owning a pet by strengthening the bond between the couple. Bonds are created and strengthened as the couple begins the process of taking on a parenting role with the pet which requires shared responsibilities. Also, after a difficult day at work, pet owners can free themselves from the thoughts of their stress full day by enjoying the love and companionship of a pet. In fact, previous research on the topic of pets and health indicate that living with pets provides certain health benefits, such as, lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety, immunity boost, can prepare them for parenting responsibilities, and build socialization skills.
Perri & Hanson
Perri and Hanson have been in a relationship for a number of years, however their relationship came to a close one year ago. During the course of the relationship Perri purchased a Pomeranian puppy. Perri and Hanson never lived together, nor did they purchase the puppy name bubbles together. Seemingly, the relationship ended without tension or animosity. However, Hanson was hopeful they would get back together and the break-up would only be temporary. The conflict between the former couple begins when Hanson realizes there is no hope for him and Perri to reignite their relationship. Hanson had previously agreed to care for Perri’s pet while she traveled for work, but he quickly changed his mind, refusing to return the pet once he realized she was no longer interested in resuming a relationship with him.