Lee Pitts: The dog’s house
April 19, 2017
Nineteenth century Indians had some great ideas. The Cherokees didn't waste money on lawyers and messy divorces; a Cherokee woman could divorce her husband merely by throwing his stuff out of the teepee. That's what my mom did. Then she put the old dog to sleep and skipped town. It's not so simple now.
Alaska became the first state to require judges to take into consideration the well being of pets in making their divorce decrees. From now on Alaskan divorce court judges will have to treat pets just like kids. Admittedly, this is currently already happening in most homes in America. The decree was a little contradictory however because it implied that pets should be treated just like members of the family and with respect. So which is it.
With the institution of marriage being held in such low regard these days, where the only thing semi-permanent are the tattoos that decorate our society, I'm sure other states will follow Alaska's lead. Henceforth, pets will be considered property just like the ski condo in Aspen, the Bentley in the driveway or the diamonds in the safe. I assume this means an Alaskan judge can assign custody of the pets. What a difference from the days when the wife took the kids and the house and the husband got the mistress and the money. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some poor schmuck is already paying $3,000 a month alimony for a Shih Tzu and there's a 5000 square foot home in the Hamptons that some pooch won in a divorce. Talk about a dog house!
Alaska's decree raises many questions. How will a judge determine custody, will the dog go to whoever purchased it, fed it or scooped up its poop? Some have suggested that the pets should stay with the children but I don't know if this is for the well being of the kids or the Beagle. There will also have to be a value assigned to pets, but how do you value a Doberman or Chihuahua? Is it worth more, or less, than the 72 inch TV or Ford F150?
I wonder if the Alaska law applies to other animals such as a horse? I can see this happening although I'm sure it will NOT apply to cows. Many wives get divorced because of cows: they want no more washing machines that smell like a feedlot or being used to plug holes in fences.
There could be some positive results as a result of this law. The divorce rate will go down if couples know there's a possibility they could lose custody of the Border Collie. (Good cow dogs are even harder to find than a good husband!) I know one couple who are just staying married because of the kids. Neither one wants them. But give up the dog? NEVER! I'm sure others are staying married just because they don't want to create any emotional distress for the Great Dane. But the day that big puppy dies you don't want to be standing between the wife and the door on her way out.
I think a good way to handle a doggie divorce is to have the dog in court and have the wife and husband both call it. Whoever it goes to gets to keep it. Knowing men as I do, the only problem I foresee is the man will cheat and have a big Milk Bone in his pocket. This will not work in the case of the cat because when called it won't go to either the man or the wife but will instead suck up to the judge and curl up in her lap.
The deceased actor Peter Falk and his wife had a great way of divorcing their dog. If I remember correctly when the Falks got divorced one got the upstairs and the other took the downstairs and the pets could hang out where ever they wanted.
Some friends of ours recently split the sheets after 18 years. We knew the marriage was in trouble because the last time we were at their house when the wife called for her "dearest darling" to come to dinner it was the cat she was talking to. For the last five years of the union the kitty cat slept with the wife way more than the husband did.