The life experience of your pets plays a big role in how they handle change. I need a nuts and bolts history of your animals to get a picture of their life so far, age, breed and general background. If you have a dog did you go to puppy school or other training? What sort of exercise is your dog used to now? Who does the exercising? Where does your dog sleep? Is your kitty an indoor or outside cat? Does your cat fight with the neighborhood felines? What sort of toilet is your cat used to, litter tray, the garden, etc.
I need to know about the house the animals currently live in. What sort of daily/weekly routine do you have regarding food, sleep, exercise? Have you had any behavior issues with your animals? Have you ever needed to work with an animal expert or behaviorist? If so why? Were you able to resolve the problem?
The first instinct is often to keep the pets in the same house as your children. However, that is not always the right solution for the animals. Certain dog breeds, especially, can form a very strong bond with one particular person and that person is often an adult. While the dogs may love “their” kids, if the dog has chosen one of the parents as his/her primary person, letting the dog live with that parent would be the best from the dog’s point of view. Also, if one person is getting primary custody of the kids it needs to be taken into account whether or not the parent will have sufficient time to care for and exercise the dog in the same way the dog has been used to. Older children may be able to help with animal care, but younger ones can’t always be relied on to care for pets.
I would like to understand from each person, what is their ideal outcome. What possible custody solutions, if any, have been discussed? What ideas do you have?
Are you moving? Is one person keeping the house the animals are used to? Is someone moving to different city, to a bigger or smaller house? Would the animals have to move to an apartment from a house with a yard or vice versa?
For example, if you have a cat used to having access to the outside would he or she cope with being only an inside cat if the living situations changes? Is your cat more attached to an individual person or a particular living space?
If your dog is moving in or out of a city, how would this affect him or her?
Is it right to split up your animal family? Can each person take custody of one of the dogs, for example? As always, there is no single right answer to this tricky question. Each family is unique. For some dog packs, splitting up is genuinely painless and easy, although the idea can be hard for their owners. Other dogs are more attached to each other than people and for them separation is very traumatic. Cats as well have different levels of attachment to individuals, animal or human. All of these questions need to be considered in order to make the most thoughtful choice for your beloved pets.