Reddit Post Documents Family’s 6-Year-Divide Over Dog Custody

The fascinating thing about the Internet, especially in the past decade of its explosive growth, is that everything is happening here. Everything. Triumph, tragedy, love, loss, creativity, conflict.

An interesting place to not only watch conflict unfold but to offer your opinions as it does, is the Reddit subforum “Am I The A**hole?”

The premise is simple — an aggrieved person takes to the site, laying out an argument they’ve gotten into as fairly as they can, taking all sides into account. Then they ask the reflexive question. Am I the a**hole here?

Photo: Unsplash

Posted in late March from a throwaway account, the post in question centers on who should keep custody of Rex, a “cute little terrier.” It’s titled “AITA for refusing to give back a dog,” and currently has over 6,000 upvotes and more than 500 comments.

The story goes something like this: The original poster’s aunt-in-law, “Clara,” has awful taste in men. She’s a divorcee, and when she started dating again, she was always ending up with “these creepy scammy guys that mooch off of her and try to control her,” according to the OP.


Clara’s dog, Rex, was about six years old when she started dating a new man who demanded she “get rid of” the pup. Clara acquiesced, and Rex stayed at home with the original poster and her husband, along with their dogs. He did well there for the next two years, but eventually, Clara broke up with her new beau and asked for Rex back. Rex goes back to Clara, and everyone’s happy. But then…

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“Less than a year later, she’s calling us to take Rex back – she has a new boyfriend who doesn’t like him,” the post continues. The story is repeating itself, only this time Rex is now “almost 9 years old at that point and we discover he has developed health problems.”


Another three years pass, with the OP and her husband caring for Rex at their home, states away from Clara and the man she’s dating. Clara doesn’t visit much, if at all. They care for him as he grows old and grey, goes blind, and develops health issues that require daily medication. The financial costs for all of this are on them.

“Well, Clara has dumped her latest guy and wants Rex back again. My husband & I discussed it and have said no,” the OP writes, getting to the heart of a conflict that’s been more than 6 years in the making. After years of caring for uncaring men, Clara’s finances aren’t great. She’s also not an especially devoted pet parent, and now that Rex is more than 12 years old and requires special care, they worry that Rex will be neglected.


Rex has also recovered from “attachment issues” that showed up the last time he was swapped from home to home, so they feel protective of not just his physical health but his overall well-being. “He’s happy with us and is really attached to one of our other dogs. It seems really unjust to pull him away from his family,” the poster explains. “All hell has broken out in the family” because of this choice, however. Siblings and relatives are taking sides, and Rex is caught in the middle!

“Clara’s kids think we’re ‘mostly right’ but think Clara should have Rex back anyway, because their mom is lonely and Rex is ‘just a dog,'” the post concludes. “AITA for keeping Rex?”


Other users were quick to affirm that the original poster was in the right. User Babsgarcia advised OP to tell her husband’s family, “it isn’t fair to him OR us at this point to do this back and forth. He deserves peace in his final years.”

Responding to this advice, OP noted that “I want to keep it clear that I’m doing what I think is best for REX,” adding that she hates how it’s divided the family. “I was raised to be a pushover,” she added in another post. “I could feel myself starting to think maybe I’m being too harsh.” Others suggested a compromise in the form of a new puppy, though a user named dayofthedeadparty spoke for many when they exclaimed, “Oh for gods sake, do not give this woman a new puppy to screw up! She obviously thinks it’s perfectly fine to just dump a dog when it becomes inconvenient. The next dog might not be as lucky as Rex…”

This post shows the ways that family dynamics can complicate simple decisions, like caring for a senior dog or setting boundaries. Fortunately, in this case, it seems clear that the original poster intends to keep Rex, a move that was widely applauded as the right one. Read more from the thread here.

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