I cringed when I read last year that Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber adopted a puppy together. It seemed like such a cute thing for a couple of teens in love to do. And of course, the pound puppy was probably happy to get a new lease on life. But as a mom, I still didn't feel good about the report. Adopting a dog is a big commitment, one that lasts a lot longer than most teen relationships, and shouldn't be done as part of a dating ritual.
The inevitable breakup
Okay, a breakup isn't always inevitable. There are the rare teenage romances that last forever. But most end, and shortly, at least compared to the life of a cat or dog. Some pets, like turtles and exotic birds, can live much longer, decades longer. So when the breakup happens, will your teen really want to be tied to their boyfriend or girlfriend for a long, long time?
Gomez and Bieber broke up this week. It might seem like they've been together forever, but they lasted just about 13 months beyond the adoption of their dog, and less than two years altogether. My kids had a pet mouse that lived longer.
So, whose dog is it?
Gomez and Bieber had been dating about nine months, and Bieber was not even an adult at the time that they adopted the cute husky puppy that made the news last fall. According to reports, it was Gomez who went through the screening to adopt the pup, which she named Baylor after her favorite university. People magazine also reported that Gomez was an animal lover who had five other rescued dogs.
Since Bieber wasn't an adult, he probably wasn't legally able to adopt a shelter dog anyway, no matter how famous he is, unless of course the shelter recognized him as an emancipated individual. Thankfully, most shelters require an adult to sign the paperwork for any adoption, because they know that pet adoptions involve a large commitment of time, money, and love.
All that being said, the dog most surely will stay with Gomez. And where does that leave poor Bieber?
In the real world
Gomez and Bieber are extremely busy young people. In reality, with the demanding schedules they've kept the past year, which contributed to their breakup according to People, neither of them probably spent a whole lot of time with Baylor the dog. But in the real world, young couples who adopt a pet together likely spend a lot of time with that pet, treating it like their substitute child, and experimenting with their roles as a family of sorts.
So when a young couple breaks up, and only one of them gets to keep the beloved pet, whose heart gets broken in a way that just compounds the misery of a normal split? If Gomez and Bieber had been a regular young couple, Bieber would be out of luck and hurting.
Don't let this happen to your teen. Keep the boundaries clear, so that if they do break up with their significant other, they won't lose more than they have to. It hurts to lose a pet. Ask any divorcee who has been through it. Battles have been fought in court over the love of a pet. Teens are just too young to have to deal with that kind of heartbreak.
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