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His dog’s secret seizures

My husband’s dog might have to be put down, but his mom won’t let me tell him (he’s away with the military). Should I betray her confidence?

Let him know about his dog, says our elder — but speak to his mother first.

Dear EWC

My mother in law just messaged me saying that their family dog (who my husband grew up with) has been having seizures every day since Wednesday, and they said he could have epilepsy or a brain tumor. They’re going to start him on medication but they said the medicine won’t start working until about two weeks in. My mother in law told me not to tell him yet because she doesn’t want him to worry while he’s on the boat (military), and he still has about three weeks left until he’s done with deployment. She said that if their dog doesn’t improve even with medication they’re going to have to make the difficult decision to put him down. I really want to tell my husband about it right away but all it will do is just make him sad, worried and more stressed than he already is on the boat. I don’t know what to do. If I don’t tell him and keep it from him, I have a feeling he will be mad that I didn’t tell him as soon as I heard the news. I feel like I should tell him right away because it’s also his dog and he should know what goes on. If it were me, I would want to know everything as soon as it happens and not having to find out later when things are already worse.

The only thing keeping me from telling my husband is his mom, she told me that they’ll tell him when the time is right. What does that mean? When is the time ever right? I understand they don’t want to make him sad but I just don’t really get the idea of waiting for the right moment to tell someone something so important. I think keeping it from him longer will only make things worse. I want to message his mom saying that I’m going to tell him but that’s pretty much just telling her that I’m not going to listen to her or respect her wishes, and I feel like it’s just not my place to do that since it’s their family dog. I’m not sure what to do, it’s hard to talk to my husband and pretend that nothing is wrong. I’ve met their dog and known him for years now and it saddens me that he’s going through this.

Folk replies

I am very sorry to hear about your husband’s dog. And I am also sorry that your mother-in-law told you about the seizures and put you in such an awkward position. But I’m sure she didn’t mean to do this. Although she could have kept the seizures a secret by simply not telling you about them, she probably needed to share her distress with someone. The problem you have now is: If you tell your husband, you betray your mother-in-law’s confidence; but if you don’t tell your husband, you betray his trust.

The thing is: at the moment, your husband is deployed. He is on a ship and there is absolutely nothing he can do for his pup except worry — which will add to his stress. Still, I agree with you: he has a right to know. But instead of messaging his mom and just telling her that you are going to tell him, I suggest that you message her that you are uncomfortable withholding this information from your husband because if the worst happens and the pup has to be put down, it would be better for you husband if he were prepared. Suggest to your mother-in-law that she let her son know that the dog is on a new medication that takes a while to start working. This way at least your husband will know that his dog is having some health problems. Tell her she doesn’t have to mention how serious these problems are unless he asks for more details.

If your mother-in-law is reluctant to do this, I think you should gently let her know that you will go ahead and do it yourself. If you have to do this, please don’t feel guilty about it. You are absolutely right about there never being a good time to relate bad news. And you are also absolutely right about your husband having a right to know. Since he gets home in three weeks, if his dog has to be put down, he may want to be there.

I hope this helps, I am always here if you’d like to talk more about this. Please try to write back to let me know how things work out. I will be thinking about you and hoping for a good outcome for your husband’s dog.

Letter #: 449014
Category: Family

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