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    My partner gifted me a dog that became like a child to us. When we broke up, custody of the dog got complicated.

    The author’s boyfriend gifted her a dog.

    Courtesy of Rashi Goel

    My boyfriend surprised me with a dog on my birthday.Raising the dog in a small apartment was difficult, but he became like a child to us.When we broke up, we fought over who should keep the dog; I ultimately gave up custody.

    I vividly remember the day Mucho arrived.

    My birthday had been unusually low-key, and my boyfriend seemed preoccupied. That evening, I found out why. My boyfriend finally revealed the big surprise: a Saint Bernard puppy lying in a large cardboard box in his car’s trunk.

    At first, the puppy’s breed shocked me. Mucho was destined to outgrow our small apartment quickly. His name, derived from the Spanish word for “too much,” reflected the overwhelming responsibility we were about to undertake. But Mucho quickly became a loved and cherished member of our little family.

    So when things soured with my partner, everything got complicated with Mucho.

    We had to first learn what was right for Mucho

    My partner — then in the process of taking over his family business — spent long hours at work and thought a dog would keep me company during his long absences for work trips. However, he might not have fully considered the level of care a pet requires. The first two months were a whirlwind of adjustments — furniture rearrangements, veterinary visits, vaccinations, and potty training.

    I juggled walking Mucho in the mornings with my full-time marketing job while my boyfriend took the evening shifts. Sometimes, we had to hire a professional dog walker to ensure Mucho got the exercise he needed. Thankfully, my workplace was pet-friendly, allowing me to bring Mucho on days when the house help didn’t show up. My partner also occasionally took him to his office, where Mucho’s cuteness charmed everyone.

    My partner’s family lived in a beautiful, spacious house on the city’s outskirts — a stark and welcome contrast to our cramped apartment.

    Visiting their home, we quickly realized how much happier Mucho was with the extra space, fresh air, and soft grass. He roamed freely, looking majestic as he strutted down the paved driveway. He loved the outdoors and sprawled on the cool marble floors indoors.

    Mucho had ample room to play and relax inside the house, and he received abundant attention from my partner’s family, who absolutely adored him. Mucho thrived in this environment, enjoying the freedom and space that our city apartment lacked.

    We started spending weekends at my partner’s family home, blurring the lines between our live-in relationship and marriage. For a year, we lived as a family, sharing meals, chores, and the inevitable drama. Our love for Mucho kept us sane amid the chaos.

    Saying goodbye was the hardest

    Despite our efforts, my relationship with my partner began to strain. At 27, I felt ready for marriage, but he had other priorities. Periods of high-intensity drama between us were interspersed with periods of taking time off from each other. Our differences led to a painful decision to part ways, but Mucho remained a contentious issue.

    I felt he should stay with me as the person whom Mucho was gifted to; I was also his primary caretaker. My partner argued that the dog wouldn’t have come into our lives without his decision to get Mucho. I argued that Mucho had spent more days living in the apartment and, therefore, was more comfortable there. The volley that came back was that Mucho was more comfortable at his family’s suburban home.

    Unable to reach an amicable solution, we continued our routine: Mucho stayed with me on weekdays and my partner on weekends. However, the emotional toll of our breakup and raising a large dog in a small apartment affected my mental and physical health.

    Eventually, I decided to move back to my parents’ city, which was an hour’s flight or a 17-hour drive away. The logistics of relocating Mucho were daunting. Flying required repeated sedation, and a 17-hour drive was downright impractical. Most reluctantly, I concluded that Mucho was better off staying with my ex-partner in the spacious suburban home he loved.

    Saying goodbye to Mucho was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. He was more than just a pet; he was my dog child, whom I loved so deeply. We were a source of comfort and joy to each other. Despite the heartache, I prioritized Mucho’s well-being over my own desires.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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