It can be easy to feel obligated to be more generous to others who might need something more than us.
But there are some limits to that.
One Redditor insisted he had brushed up against that limit. He explained it all in a post on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.
The Original Poster (OP), known as aitathrowaway9g on the site, shared the key detail right in the title.
“AITA For not wanting to give my autistic cousin my dog that he needs more than I do?”
OP began by describing how he came to own—and love—his dog.
“Hello! I (14) and my mom are currently staying with my aunt. I have a beagle mutt and a chihuahua mutt that my mom and I got from a rescue five years ago.”
“I went through some pretty rough stuff after my dad died and my therapist recommended having sessions with a therapy dog—it went really well and then my mom surprised me with a trip to a shelter.”
“They were together and we didn’t want them to be split up.”
But a big change led to some struggles adapting.
“We moved in with my aunt three weeks ago. My cousin is eleven and autistic. He does have a ‘service dog’ but she’s not trained at all and is really just a bit much.”
“The first night I spent with my chi in my arms the entire time because she wouldn’t stop chasing her.”
“My beagle went through minimal service dog training after we got him, just so he could come to therapy and some doctors appointments with me. He’s still really good with tasks.”
But OP couldn’t help but notice a surprising development.
“My cousin’s autism can be pretty severe, and my dog has been pretty intuitive with his emotions.”
“Definitely not tasking fully, but if he thinks he’s in distress he’ll find someone. My aunt thinks he’s a gift from god or something.”
“My mom has been trying to ward her off, but she’s not here a lot—my aunt has basically been asking to swap dogs, because my cousin needs him more.”
That all put OP in an emotional pickle.
“Initially I was really angry—I’ve done all his work, my two dogs are super close, and he’s really not that bothered with my cousin.”
“But, its been a few weeks now, and I am noticing how much calmer and happier my cousin seems. I’ve taken to training his dog for him so maybe she’ll be of more help but she has zero interest in tasking, and my cousin really loves my dog.”
But a recent development led to a change of heart.
“I was starting to feel guilty, and then my aunt got even more insistent, and even said she would buy me a beagle puppy if it would make me feel better about it. I was getting really tired of her pushing, and asked why she didnt just ‘get off my a**’ and train her own dog.”
“She got mad, and explained that her son needs a very particular type of dog for his autism and my dog ticks the boxes. And I don’t actually need my dog anymore.”
“I got angry at that point and told her I don’t care about his autism or his needs, and that my dog is mine, and he’ll be staying with me until he dies.”
Believe it or not, OP’s aunt didn’t love hearing that.
“She sent me to my room. I made a point of calling both my dogs to come up with me, which led to her punishing me with no dinner.”
“When mom got home she was livid, and they had a huge fight. My cousin came to tell me that he hated me for taking the dog away, and I felt awful.”
The whole thing has left OP’s head spinning.
“I know I’m the a**hole for cussing and what I said, and I’m not really sure if I’m in the wrong for not wanting to give him my dog?”
“He does need pup more that I do, technically, and he is really helping him, but I don’t want to give him up. I don’t know if that’s selfish or not.”
“So, am I the a**hole for not wanting to give him my dog?”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Almost every Redditor who responded took OP’s side.
For many, it was a no-brainer.
“NTA, what kind of entitle bs is this?”
“Your dogs. Your BONDED dogs. You cant split them up to give your cousin one. Their dog can be trained. To demand your dog is straight up entitled.” — Shebalba64205
“NTA. It sounds like your dogs are a bonded pair. Splitting them up would be traumatic to the dogs. Not to mention, a dog isn’t an old t-shirt that can be swapped or replaced with a new one.”
“Yeah, you shouldn’t have mouthed off to your aunt, but she was kind of asking for it.”
“I’m sorry for your cousin, but he needs to find his own therapy dog, not take your dog from you.”
“Your aunt needs to understand pets aren’t chattel; they’re family members. She wouldn’t ask you to just give away or swap a member of your family. Or even offer to replace a family member with a newborn. She’s way out of line.” — neuroticsmurf
“NTA. There’s three (maybe four) movies about Keanu Reeves killing people over his dog. Other dogs can be trained to be a service animal. That’s your dog. Your Aunt is way overstepping all sorts of boundaries.” — toricoon
“As an autistic person, NTA for quite the many reasons. You needed the dog for your own needs, did the work for them, not to mention these are living things and not toys to pass around.”
“I get your cousins need here, and yeah it sucks their own dog isn’t what they entirely need, but that’s not your responsibility either. Your aunt is also gross af for not letting you eat.” — Astro-Puff420
Some advised OP take unfortunate preparations.
“Nta but be forewarned this is gonna get worse before it gets better. Expect the dog to ‘mysteriously run away’ before you guys leave.”
“Make sure the dogs are chipped and you have records.” — ColeDelRio
“NTA. Keep a very close eye and hand on your dogs. It’ll be very stressful for them if one happens to ‘get lost,’ etc. stand your ground, for you and your dogs sake.” — darpacheetos
Looks like even OP can rest assured he can feel good about keeping his dog.
Here’s hoping he still gets dinner.