From Publishers Weekly
As with kids, keeping the pets safe during a breakup should be paramount, and professional dog trainer Keene offers sound advice-as pertains to dog and owner-for before, during and after the split. Indeed, many suggestions could also apply to the children-adults should not treat their dogs like bargaining chips, for example-and Keene spends plenty of time addressing the practical (human) issues of moving on: finding a new place to live, laying ground rules with the ex, staying positive and facing new financial challenges. As for the dogs, Keene covers a huge range of topics, from fundamentals like "a day in the life of a part-time pet parent" and the relative merits of full- and joint-custody, to monitoring canine stress, splitting up a pack and leaving an abusive relationship with your pet. The book's lengthy third part, suitable for anyone living alone with a dog, deals thoroughly and helpfully with life after the breakup. Drawing from her own experience with divorce, Keene's well-designed manual offers a wise perspective and solid, practical advice based in basic courtesy, common sense, calm and cooperation; though it's hardly innovative, her council will definitely help ground dogged readers during the tumultuous, hair-pulling end of a relationship.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Jennifer Keene's We Can't Stay Together for the Dogs
is a very basic and practical guide for those couples struggling with what's best for their dogs when they split. The focus is appropriate--just as with children of divorce, the primary concern of any pet custody arrangement should be the "best interest of the dog" rather than what an individual guardian wants.
...The author's goal is to help couples with pets survive a breakup without using attorneys or resorting to angry or bitter tactics. (She does, however, offer advice on how to find an attorney or mediator who is experienced in pet issues.)
...Keene writes from personal experience, both as a Certified Pet Dog Trainer addressing the behaviors seen in her clients' dogs and her own, and as someone who went through a divorce and ultimately decided, with her ex, that each of them would take one of the dogs, and that they would maintain contact between the dogs. She's been there.
...Courts will not order custody or visitation in the context of a divorce or separation. The burden is on the parties to work out a friendly agreement regarding their pets, on their own, or risk the uncertain outcome of an expensive trial over who "owns" the dog as property. Keene's book provides readers with basic questions to ask and possible solutions to explore. There are numerous sidebars and questionnaires designed to help readers make the hard choices and decisions as to who should care for the dogs, short term and long term.
This book does not provide in-depth or advance training advice, or legal advice. All information comes in short "sound bites." It is written for those who, because of a breakup, are suddenly thrown off kilter and need a primer in simple language to take them through the common issues and problems every pet guardian must confront, both in terms of the dog's behavior and in having difficult conversations with the ex.
One section deals with specific custody arrangements--part-time pet parenting, joint custody, splitting the multi-dog pack, and the especially difficult situation in which one party feels it's necessary to "run off" with the dog. There is also a chapter dealing with issues that arise when couples split and wonder if either can keep the dog.
Perhaps the best and most practical chapter forces readers to "get real" about the costs of dog guardianship, with charts for inserting numbers regarding the actual costs of food, vet care, day care and so forth--everything one spends to properly care for a dog, with ideas about how those costs might be shared. These details can then be included in their final agreement.
For those feeling overwhelmed in the face of a split, worried about the impact on their pets and wanting to explore post-split arrangements that put their dogs first, this book is a good place to start. --The Bark, July/August 2008