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Redditor Sparks Drama After Refusing To Give Their Dog To Their Autistic Nephew Who Bonded With Him


Redditor buthesmydog became attached to a lost dog called Dave. They took him in when nobody claimed him.

The Redditor’s husband was initially annoyed, but begrudgingly gave in.

But things got complicated in the household when Dave’s irresistible charm got to another family member.

The OP visited the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit and asked:

“AITA because I don’t want to give my dog to my autistic nephew?”

The OP explained:

“I found a dog (Dave) that had been abandoned at a dog park. I waited with him until it was dark and then took him home with the intention of trying to find an owner or a rescue that would take him.”

“He had no collar and when I took him to my vet the next day, we couldn’t find a microchip. He was clearly someone’s pet at some point—he’s neutered, housebroken and very friendly.”

“Re-homing him never really panned out, no owner ever turned up despite searching and posting on lost pet pages, and I wasn’t willing to take him to a kill shelter.”

“My husband was annoyed at first, but it’s been almost two years now. My other dog has bonded with him, I’ve fallen in love with him, and even my husband has grudgingly accepted him.”

“As far as I’m concerned, Dave’s part of our family.”

“My brother-in-law (BIL) and his family relocated to our city and moved in with us while they were closing on a house. My 8-year-old nephew has autism and it’s caused him some struggles.”

“His parents had talked about trying to find him a pet but I guess they never found a good fit, at least until they met Dave. He really bonded with Dave, to the point where he sneaks out of bed at night to sleep in Dave’s dog bed with him.”

“Dave is all he talks about and he gets upset whenever we leave the house and don’t take the dogs with us.”

“I guess my sister-in-law (SIL) talked to my husband about keeping Dave when they move out and my husband told her he’d have to talk to me but I guess there was a strong insinuation that it would okay.”

“I only found out about this proposal when my BIL approached me and thanked me for letting them keep Dave before my husband ever even mentioned it to me.”

“My husband and I had a fight and when the dust settled, it’s the 3 of them against me.”

“My husband feels Dave was living with us more by accident than design so we were really fostering him more than keeping him, and so it would be selfish to keep him when my nephew clearly loves him so much.”

“He says we can go to the shelter and get another companion for our other dog, so that’s like a win-win—Dave gets a home and another dog gets out of the shelter for Christmas.”

“And Dave would certainly be very loved and spoiled with my in-laws, and yet…after two years, he feels like my dog.”

“The thought of giving him away after all this time hurts and the idea that my in-laws are using my nephew’s autism as some kind of trump card to prove they’re entitled to have him really rubs me the wrong way.”

“And I don’t see him as interchangeable, like I can just pop down to the shelter and score a perfect replacement.”

After a few updates, the OP added more information.

“My husband doesn’t hate Dave. He still plays with him, pets him, gives him treats, etc… just like he does with our other dog. He just had a feeling that if we took him in, we’d be stuck with him and that’s what happened.”

“We both tried to find a new home for him but it became clear after a few months it wasn’t going to happen. But we DID try.”

“I didn’t strongarm or bully my husband into keeping him. And while we never formally sat down and said, ‘Okay, Dave is officially our dog from this day forward,’ a lot of things strongly implied that, from the time my husband came home from Petsmart with an engraved bone-shaped ID tag for Dave’s collar that matched our other dog’s to agreeing to get him microchipped with our address at his annual vet visit last year.”

“He jokes that Dave was an ‘accident’ and that he’s useless because our other dog is a purebred that he got and trained specifically for hunting, while Dave is just a mutt that sometimes plays fetch and sleeps on the couch.”

“I think my in-laws heard Dave’s backstory, picked up on the jokes, and assumed maybe we would be willing to part with him since we’d tried to re-home him before.”

“And I’m not going to divorce my husband because he’s willing to part with Dave because I’m almost certain his desire to give Dave to my nephew is coming more from a place of wanting my nephew to have something that gives his childhood a sense of normalcy rather than dump a dog he doesn’t want off on someone else.”

“And I think he really meant to talk to me about my SIL’s request, it’s just my BIL was so excited at the possibility of keeping the dog that my BIL beat him to it.”

Strangers on the internet were asked to declare one of the following:

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

Redditors weighed in with their thoughts on the dilemma, favoring the OP.

“They are not doing your nephew any favors in leading him on that he actually might get your dog. Kids, autistic or not, need to learn that they don’t get everything they might want.”

“There are so many good dogs that need a home right now. Just google ‘how to apply for service dog for child’, there are organizations that train dogs just for that purpose.” – CaliforniaJade

“It sounds like your nephew’s parents can’t have tried that hard to find a dog that would suit their son. They don’t seem to be looking for a trained service dog, either, or they wouldn’t be so insistent on having Dave.”

“I’d be willing to be that it was mostly a matter of your nephew being around Dave for a longer, consistent period of time, giving him a chance to get used to the dog and form a bond.”

“All they need is a gentle, friendly dog, and there are plenty of dogs like that out there without a home.”

“Dave is your dog. He has a home and a family already. He loves YOU. He considers you his family, and your house is his home. Giving him away would be cruel not only to you, but to him as well.”

“Your husband shouldn’t have soft-agreed to this without talking to you. You wouldn’t give away his hunting dog without his express permission; you probably wouldn’t even suggest it. Because you don’t give family members away. NTA.” – Purple_Midnight_Yak

“NTA. A dog is not a toy to be passed around.” – terrapharma

“NTA! They’re trying to bully you.”

“Now, a conversation between you and your husband about whether to keep the dog is one thing. But your husband basically did this without consulting you.”

“But your BIL and his wife have no say in this. Their autistic kid is irrelevant.” – VivaVeronica

“I would text everyone. ‘I understand that X really enjoys my dog, however, he is going to stay with his family. X is welcome to visit him any time he’d like, but I don’t want to discuss this again. I appreciate you respecting my wishes’.”

“NTA. Asking someone to give up their pet is crazy. I have a child who is very attached to our pet, but I wouldn’t expect someone to give us their pet if he got attached…” – crystallz2000

“I think this comes down to the different way that OP and her husband view dogs (and probably pets in general). For the husband they are just animals, good to have around so long as they are useful, hence the jokes about Dave as opposed to a trained hunting dog, and entirely interchangeable.”

“But for OP the dogs are family, as much so as the human members, with whom there is a deep bond, no more interchangeable than if they are children.”

“It’s a fundamental disconnect. Neither view is any more valid than the other; both have millions of adherents. It’s just never been an issue until now.”

“It’s certainly it something to break up a marriage over, but they do need to sit down and talk (without the in-laws) and come to an understanding that about how each views Dave (and dogs in general) and understand why this matters to the other. Then together make a decision re: Dave.”

“As for the in-laws, if the decision is that the child can’t take Dave home, maybe taking the child to the shelter to choose another dog all of his own to take home with him because Dave would be sad to leave his home and furry friend or words to that effect.”

“I understand the in-laws pushing to keep Dave because anything that keeps an autistic kid fixated can give the parents breathing space. NAH.” – Far_Administration41

The OP gave the following update with some further clarification.

“Dave reacts to my nephew the same way he reacts to everyone—he wags his tail and loves to take treats, but they don’t have this transformative connection that transcends all time and space.”

“It’s not like we all encouraged my nephew to get so attached to Dave because we thought it would be adorable or funny—it happened rather quickly and organically.”

Overall, Redditors agreed it would be better for Dave and the nephew for the OP’s in-laws to help their son find a dog that’s really his own to love.

Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a Los Angeles based actor whose work has been spotted anywhere from Broadway stages to Saturday Night Live.
He received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese.
In addition to being a neophyte photographer, he is a huge Disney aficionado and is determined to conquer all Disney parks in the world to publish a photographic chronicle one day. Mickey goals.
Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1 Flickr: nyckmo