Adventures from a cross cultural relationship Part 1: Family over Pets but my pets are my family…..

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My boyfriend is Nigerian and I am African American.  The funny thing is we never talk about until we don’t want to claim each other’s people, which usually happens when we see people who are actually being stereotypes. We don’t look for differences but sometimes they are stark and unavoidable.  One of these has to do with indoor dogs and his complete and utter confusion about this.

Until recently I had 2 dogs, a 3 year old Poodle and a 13 year old Pomeranian.  My boyfriend has never really been here for my fur babies, he tolerates them.  He is not willing to keep them on the weekend but he will pay for the boarding, lol.  I let my cousin, whom I had recently reconnected with after 10 years stay with me until she got on her feet. During her stay at my place my dog got hit by a car under her supervision.  Unfortunately my dog did not survive the trauma and after a million apologies I put my cousin out of my apartment. My boyfriend immediately encouraged me to reconsider, it was an accident and she was staying with me after having nowhere else to go.

The thing about family is that blood doesn’t make you sincere.  While I don’t think she meant for anything to happen, she did not take the necessary precautions to prevent it.  She also did not call after she left from my house, not even a text message which really made me feel as if she wasn’t as sorry as she claimed. My boyfriend doesn’t understand my attachment to my dogs he tries really hard but he doesn’t get it.  He likes dogs but he is not fond of them being in the house and dogs as small as mine really serve no purpose according to him, I can’t rally argue with that. He felt as if my cousins needs should have taken precedence over my grief.  He would have never put out a person because of a dog.

I showed up on his doorstep at 3 a.m. balling and drunk “He was a dog you can get another one” my boyfriend said. I had also gotten a memorial tattoo in my dogs memory and he liked the tattoo but really didn’t understand my pain. He held me while I cried, supplied me with 2 aspirin, a bottled water and of course a trashcan.   I was clearly too drunk and inconsolable for sex so he made me go to sleep. He didn’t understand but he was there for me nonetheless.

The next morning I tried to explain that when you nurture something for years you can’t replace it and no other dog would be my dog it would be a totally different dog with different quirks.  In our conversation we had to face that I take my dogs very seriously. I get very attached and grew up with dogs, I even took my Pomeranian to college.  A cousin who comes into your life after not seeing you for over 10 years then ends up on you couch doesn’t get that consideration.  We did not disagree but we did not exactly agree.  He has never had a dog so I didn’t expect him to understand, after all there are Americans who aren’t that serious about dogs but they understand the attachment.

Our disagreement was rooted in the treatment of family.  I am a firm believer in the nuclear and immediate families being close.  He runs errand for his mother’s friend’s cousin whim he calls aunty mostly because it’s respectful, but also because if everyone is aunty you don’t have to remember names.  He was raised to be there for his family immediate, extended and otherwise.  I admire that but I don’t adhere to that. My parents raised us to be close as siblings but we aren’t really obligated to extended family.