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Parent At A Loss When ‘Dog-Phobic’ Stepdaughter Melts Down After Finding Dog Hair In Her Room


Dogs are our best friends.

Cats are cool, too.

Pets in general are family.

So it can be difficult when a choice has to be made between a human family and the pet family.

Case in point…

Redditor sharkdodododododo wanted to discuss their experience and get some feedback. So naturally, they came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

They asked:

“AITA for not getting rid of my dog for my dog-phobic stepdaughter?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“My husband and I have a modern Brady Bunch with my two kids, his daughter, and our child together.”

“My two are in early elementary school, our child together is a year old, and his daughter is 15.”

“His daughter only comes around in the summer, and due to… things, this is her first summer visit since her father and I got together in 2020.”

“She’s a very good kid, gets good grades.”

“The only issue is that his daughter has a deep fear and disgust around one thing and one thing only, dogs.”

“I was told that there was a general culture against dogs where she was raised.”

“But that culture intensified when there was a tragedy a few years ago involving dogs and some neighbor children.”

“My husband’s daughter saw the entire thing, and it stuck with her.”

“I have a 6-year-old golden retriever who my kids and I love dearly.”

“I was worried that it could be a problem.”

“But my husband told me it wasn’t a problem because it ‘wasn’t the same kind of dog’ and ‘she could be polite about it.'”

“It took about 4 hours.”

“The day she landed, we came home from dinner and then suddenly hear screaming coming from upstairs.”

“It sounded like an emergency, so we rushed in.”

“And it was because a few dog hairs had gotten on her clothes from Auggie walking through the room.”

“She spent hours freaking out over it.”

“She ran everything through the wash 3 full times, using an entire container of oxyclean in the process, and deep cleaned the entire room.”

“We obviously did everything possible to prevent Auggie from going near her room after that and always kept the door closed, but it only got worse from there.”

“She refused to sit on the living room furniture because it was ‘dirty.'”

“Obsessively vacuumed anywhere he could have been until I hid the vacuum.”

“And jumped back and screamed any time that he could have gotten near her.”

“It was very clear that something not good was going to happen if they continued living together.”

“So we found an airbnb down the street solely for her and split time there.”

“It was incredibly expensive but worked for the summer and allowed for some normal visit time.”

“We absolutely can NOT afford to do that again for 3 more summers.”

“My husband now wants to get rid of the dog because he thinks it’s unfair to his daughter to be ‘kicked out of her home’ anyway even if we did have the money.”

“I will NOT get rid of Auggie.”

“He’s part of the family.”

“I love him, and the children that are all here are bonded to him.”

“It’s not fair to them to get rid of him for a part-time child.”

“We’ve been arguing about this for days now and now his mom and his ex-wife are involved because of this affects his daughter.”

“They’re all saying I don’t love his daughter and am playing favorites.”

“I don’t think I am.”


Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA?:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Many Redditors declared our OP was NOT the A**hole.

“NTA. Keep your sweet pup and insist on therapy for the kid.”

“Living life scared of dogs is no way to live.”

“ETA: this kid doesn’t even live with you.”

“They’re just a visitor.”

“You’d do more harm to the children who do live with you and are bonded to Auggie if you rehomed him.” ~ forcryingoutmeow

“I wouldn’t rule out what the therapists said sounds like she does have OCD with having to clean like that that a symptom of OCD. ~ Kindly_Caregiver_212

OP came back with some details…

“Therapy is a new concept for both of her parents and their backgrounds.”

“Her mom didn’t think it was necessary because she also believes dogs are something dirty to be avoided at all costs.”

“Her father did try, but the first therapist was so bad that it was counterproductive.”

“It was less than a year after the incident.”

“The therapist wanted to diagnose her with OCD before ever meeting her.”

“Which was already a bad sign, but it had to be cut short when the therapist brought his own dog as ‘exposure therapy’ for the first session involving her.”

“Both families still talk about it and now the attitude about therapy is only negative.”

Reddit continued to weigh in.

“Depriving the kids that live with the dog of either their pet or their father for three months at a time (or forever) is not really an option that makes for a strong family.”

“The resentment towards the sister will grow.”

“I would lean towards creating dog-free zones in the house (even if only for the summer), combined with vacation time away from the dog and house that are fun for everyone.”

“If the daughter gets her own, clean area away from even seeing the dog, and doesn’t have to sit on dog furniture ever.”

“Maybe a collapsible camping chair?”

“Plus being ‘allowed’ to vacuum for 20 minutes before family movie night… there are things to try before rehoming the dog, which is hard on the rest of the family.” ~ Glittering_knave

“Exactly this. Growing up we had family friends who were a blended family.”

“We used to keep their cat when one of the children came into town to see his dad.”

“This kid was allergic so they’d do a major clean and we’d keep the cat for a few weeks when he was around.”

“It worked out well all around because my mom didn’t really want a pet but my sibs and I did so this was a compromise.”

“But the main point being, OP needs to figure out a way to support this child’s relationship with her father.”

“OP and her spouse could do with a little therapy themselves.” ~ Hoistedonyrownpetard

“With such an extreme reaction a part of me wonders if there is any way to make the stepdaughter feel at home even with the dog gone.”

“The dog would be at the house nine months out of the year, there will be traces of it.”

“Basically, I don’t think just removing the dog is going to be enough with such an extreme reaction.”

“Say her step-siblings go visit the dog, they will no doubt bring back some fur on them.”

“She finds out, melts down.” ~ Kii_and_lock

“What’s unacceptable is her husband and family demanding that his wife and the children who actually live with him all the time give up, and be deprived of, what they consider to be a member of their family.”

“Which would be beyond devastating to them. They also matter.”

“The anger and resentment they will all feel towards the stepdaughter would be tremendous.”

“The stepdaughter is, frankly, traumatized and needs serious intensive treatment or she and her family will continue to be miserable.”

“The husband needs to help find other solutions besides going nuclear and getting rid of the dog completely.”

“Perhaps they could find temporary summer homes for the dog, where OP and her children could still visit.” ~ poet_andknowit

“That is not the scenario though, they aren’t picking the dog over the daughter, that’s a manipulative way to skew it.”

“The daughter was invited and welcomed to stay and they learned how severe her aversion to dogs was, they did the best they could at the time and got her alternative living arrangements.”

“She has trauma and is not handling it in a healthy way.”

“Hopefully they can try therapy again, but the solution is not to get rid of the dog.”

“Getting rid of the dog will cause the other kids trauma and is likely to create resentment and not create a bond between all the kids.” ~ Used_Grocery_9048

“I mean, the way you told the story had my ‘OCD sensors’ going off.”

“Washing all of her things thrice because of a couple of dog hairs isn’t a reaction I can logically attribute to fear.”

“Plus the vacuuming and refusing to sit on furniture because of the dog are definitely not fear-based reactions.”

“I mean, maybe dogs became a factor because trauma has a tendency to latch onto pre-existing mental illness, but if I’m afraid of cats, I’m not going to deep clean someone’s bathroom because the litter box is there.”

“I’m not going to use that bathroom because the cat might be there, you know?”

“NTA, dogs before everything.”

“I mean, he can’t expect you to consider getting rid of Auggie, especially if he won’t consider therapy for his daughter.”

“Also dog tax please can we please see Auggie’s handsome face?” ~ heygardenteacher

OP… Reddit seems to understand your plight.

Looks like you and the hubs may need a little therapy.

And your stepdaughter? She could use some professional guidance on how to handle her fears.

Good luck!