The bond between a dog and their person is hard to beat.
A lot of dogs become family, and some dogs are even more loved than family members, ascending to an emotional place no one can compete with.
This is largely a wholesome dynamic, but can become complicated in situations when it's dog vs. another close person in your life.
When my son (14) was eight, we got a dog. He's half Great Dane and half some dog my friend's dog met during an unauthorized absence. My son loves this dog and does all the care for him (except vet stuff) and is a very responsible dog owner. This dog is pretty much his best friend.
My wife is 12 weeks pregnant, and ever since we confirmed the pregnancy she has been acting weird around the dog. She avoids him, puts her hands over her stomach when he's around, and jolts whenever he makes noise.
Today she told me she wants to re-home the dog. I asked her what she was talking about. She said she has been having anxiety that he will jump on her. This is completely unreasonable. He doesn't jump on people.
We trained him not to jump on people or run into people very young because he is half Great Dane and I felt this was important for all dogs, but especially one who could possibly grow to such a large size (which he did).
There is no reason for her to think the dog will jump on her. She said that there is no way to know for sure that the dog won't jump on her, and if he does our baby could be hurt. This dog has never so much as growled at her.
She said even if the dog doesn't jump on her, her anxiety about it is bad for her health. She said she needs the dog elsewhere for her safety and the baby's. I told her that there was no way.
My son got this dog right after he lost his mom and imprinted on him hard. Sometimes I think he loves the dog more than me! I'm not taking his dog. The dog didn't do anything! My wife said I am prioritizing the dog over her pregnancy.
The dog isn't a threat to her pregnancy. If this were any other unreasonable request, I would just do it because she is pregnant. I just can't break my son's heart over a fear she has that makes no sense. Am I being an a**hole?
The thread soon filled up with opinions and advice.
Has she stopped driving?
Has she started using a wheelchair so she won't fall? Is she refusing to use stairs?
She needs some counseling (genuinely, not being rude) to figure out why she is only fixated on the dog and reacting to sound similar to ptsd symptoms.
Did you train the dog not to jump because he pushed her over at some point? Was she pushed by a dog as a child or something?
Something got in her head. OR she has always hated the dog and is manipulating you now that she sees her 'chance' to get rid of it.
I would micro chip the dog, if you haven’t already. Make sure info is up to date, and see if she will seek counseling/compromise. Your kid needs his dog. NTA.
NTA. Animals are lifetime responsibilities. Pawning them off because she got pregnant would be a sh***y thing to do.
NTA. Don’t you dare give away your son’s dog. He didn’t ask for you to remarry and have a new child. Your son will never forgive you, or your new wife, if you allow her to continue to push this topic.
She needs to actively work on coping with her anxiety. May I suggest therapy?
NTA, but your title is wrong. You’re prioritizing your son over your pregnant wife’s irrational fear. I think it might smooth things over if you’re open to considering reasonable measures to allay her fears, though.
Congratulations on the new child!
Long, long ago, my now-ex and I had two 70-pound Labrador Retrievers who believed they were lap dogs. They knew something was up and were even more protective of my ex at the time -- they knew somehow that she was pregnant.
They stayed out of her lap. They guarded her. When my daughter was born, they were dedicated protectors. One was always close to the bassinet. The other was the scout, investigating any sound, prepared to protect that child.
They were the same way when my son was born. Fast forward many years. I'm divorced. Our beautiful, wonderful dogs have long passed. My disabled adult son still lives with me.
We now have two cats, because one of them very clearly chose him as his person. That cat is key to my son's wellbeing. Separating them would be a disaster for both of them. You can't give that dog away.
Your son needs him (and vice versa). Unless your wife has some hostile relationship with the dog, this seems like a very natural, very understandable, very strong, but possibly irrational reaction, to fears about this pregnancy.
You don't mention your age or hers, but, given your son's age, this might feel like her last chance at having another child. All of these factors generate powerful feelings that can't be denied.
If you give that dog away, your son will (rightly) resent you, your wife, and the new child. This is going to be messy, but you are NTA for standing up for your son and his dog. I hope you find a good solution.
It looks like OP is in for another talk with his wife, hopefully, they're able to come to a mutual understanding and her anxieties can be soothed, not at the expense of OP's son.