Two years ago, Susie* and her husband Andrew* became pregnant, something they were excited about.
But before they could tell anyone the news, Andrew’s brother, 35, and his wife, 38, announced to the family that they had been trying to conceive but had found out they couldn’t due to medical problems.
“They were devastated and we were all heartbroken for them,” Susie explains in a post to an advice forum.
“Their obsession with their dog strained our relationship”
Out of respect, Susie and Andrew delayed their pregnancy announcement until Susie began showing at three months.
Susie writes, “A week after we announced, my BIL and SIL adopted a dog named Bella. Immediately she was all they talked about and they refused to go anywhere without her.”
Suddenly, conversations became dog-centric and outings turned into dog dates, leading to a strain on their relationship with the couple.
“My husband and his brother don’t hang out anymore because my BIL is so obsessed with Bella that he’s hard to talk to,” the OP explains. She even says that “BIL’s lost friends over this obsession and SIL has quit her job so she doesn’t have to spend any time away from the dog.”
“We even stopped our weekly family dinners because Bella barks non-stop and pulls food off the table, bites, etc. She’s a nightmare,” she says.
What’s worse is that the couple has even started to call the dog “the first grandchild” or “the first girl” which bothers Susie because her daughter is obviously those things – not the dog.
“They think my daughter and their dog should be treated equally and get upset when they are not. Even when I gave birth and people were reaching out to check on me and my daughter, they sulked and made a long post on Facebook saying they were hurt no one had done the same for them when they adopted their dog,” she writes.
The breaking point
Fast forward to the present day and the whole family got invited to a wedding.
The BIL thought it was unfair that the OP’s daughter was invited to the wedding, but not their dog.
She recounts, “He said that if Bella wasn’t invited, then my daughter shouldn’t be either.
“They say things like that all the time, and I’ve been holding my tongue because I know they are coping with something extremely difficult, but this time I finally snapped and said, ‘Because Bella is a dog, and my daughter is an actual human baby. My child and your pet are not the same.’”
Afterwards, Andrew’s brother called him to let him know they were really hurt and his wife was crying all day.
“I know their dog is like their child, and I don’t mean to be cruel or insensitive, but I am also so tired of hearing them compare my daughter to a dog, and I don’t want her to grow up around people who think she is equal to a poorly behaved animal. AITA?” he concludes her post.
“They need therapy”
The top comment with 13.9k comments read: “I mean… My cat was my mum’s ‘first grandchild’ by a few years. No one took it seriously. Later on, as more piled in, she’d pull out her phone to show off the human grandkids to people and as scrolling through she’d have pictures of my cat in the folder, and she’d just laugh and say, ‘Oh there’s the first’.
“But it was a joke. I’d never for a second think she rated her along a human and no one was confused. Sounds like they really need therapy.”
Someone else weighed in, saying, “There is a difference between valuing/loving your dog like you would value/love a child, and actually TREATING your dog like a child and expecting others to treat them like that. The first thing can be valid. The second thing is not healthy for you and probably also not healthy for the dog.”
Then someone else added, “Agree… I think I’d also draw the line at someone acting like my human child shouldn’t be invited to an event if their dog (even if the dog in question was super well-behaved) is not.”
And finally, someone concluded, “Oh, this is a sad case, but as much as we love our four-legged friends, they are not equivalent to babies. You can leave your dog with a sitter, newborn babies need to breastfeed like every few hours.
“It’s far more difficult to find adequate care for a new infant as opposed to a puppy. I do sympathize with them, they’re clearly taken this dog on emotionally as a baby due to their inability to have one. So you have to be firm but gentle in this situation. Understand their frustration, but dogs just can’t come everywhere.”