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The Shortest Leash: Ask a

Human-Pet Marriage Counselor


Dear Reader: Now that same-sex marriage has opened the door to people marrying their pets, inanimate objects, siblings, etc., the need for relationship advice in all these types of marriages, once considered “unnatural,” has burgeoned. Let me introduce myself: I am Dr. Otto Bangs, D.V.M., M.Div., Certified Human-Pet Marriage (HPM) Counselor. Despite its passage into law in several states and all of Canada, some continue to pooh-pooh HPM, citing the so-called “unnaturalness” of marriages between humans and their pets. If you are in or are contemplating such a marriage, know that I’m here not to judge but to lead — and to demand and reinforce desirable behavior. Please write me with all your human-domestic animal domestic difficulties.


Dear Dr. Bangs:  I am a human woman married to a beautiful seal-point Siamese, whom I’ll call “Mr. Whiskers” (not his real name). Mr. Whiskers and I were wed in the proverbial “fever hotter than a pepper sprout” the very week HPM was legalized in our state, and let me tell you, even after more than two/fourteen years, the petting has never been heavier! But much as I hate to admit it, my parents were right about one thing: we’re different from each other.

Sometimes I tell Mr. Whiskers we’re like Romeo and Juliet. Even after all this time, my family refuses to recognize our marriage. Although I continue to make friendly overtures toward my mother-in-law (who not only lives with us but insists on sleeping our bed), she is one aloof lady!  Mr. Whiskers is estranged from his father, his 80+ children, and (thank heavens!) the dozens of “baby-mamas” he associated with before true love helped him to overcome a number of dysfunctional behaviors. Most of my friends from church, school, work, and other human institutions have drifted away. Mr. Whiskers and I spend a lot of time and money traveling to socialize with other HPM couples, some as far away as the Netherlands.

Our commitment has only been strengthened by the many trials we have faced—together. But we seem to disagree about one thing: I believe that a wife is not a doormat but a life partner, and Mr. Whiskers—as far as I can tell—does not.

I know that there are adjustments to be made in any marriage and even more in a non-traditional union such as ours. He sleeps all day while I’m at work and there’s never a meal waiting for me when I get home. We argue about neutering reversal (I think), complete nonreciprocation of petting & vacuuming, barbs on penis, who-cleans-up-whose poo, etc. But how do I know whether Mr. Whiskers and I are just working through our “growing pains” or I’m trapped in a loveless marriage?


Mrs. Whiskers—but for how much longer?


Dear Mrs. Whiskers: In the end, you’ll have to follow your heart. But here are some signs that you should seek HPM counseling—preferably with Mr. Whiskers, but without if need be. In fact, it probably won’t make much difference whether he comes along or not. If you or your spouse can answer yes to any of the following questions, please contact the Office of the Registrar, College of Non-Traditional Marriage Counselors, c/o https://www.ragazine.cc, to get on the waiting list for HPM Counseling.

  1. My feline spouse ignores my repeated requests that s/he leave the seat down after drinking.
  2. My human spouse decides unilaterally if and when catnip mice are to be purchased/retrieved from beneath the fridge.
  3. My feline spouse curls up and falls asleep immediately after/during intimacy.
  4. My human spouse squirts me with water or otherwise makes a big deal about it whenever I “think outside the box.”
  5. Even if neutering/spaying is not an issue, we can’t agree on an ideal size for a litter/number of litters.
  6. My human spouse gives me cheese only grudgingly, if at all.
  7. Holidays and spare time are spent exclusively with his/her family, not mine.
  8. I believe my human spouse could do more to use his or her thumbs to help me gain access to the contents of the fridge.
  9. My feline spouse hisses at my friends, refuses to answer the phone when I’m out, or otherwise undermines my relationships with others.
  10. My human spouse, when s/he condescends to give me cheese at all, lets it bounce on the floor like s/he’s skipping a rock across a lake rather than responding to my vulnerability.


Hope this helps, Mrs. Whiskers. Good luck!


Note to Readers: if you are in a common-law union — currently defined as a human cohabiting exclusively for a minimum period of one year with a cat or dog or, in the case of goldfish or hamsters, three weeks — you are considered to be equivalent-to-married and so entitled to free HPM counseling as well as other benefits from the state which will eventually undermine the traditional family and civilization as we know it.

Dr. Otto Bangs’ latest book is Alphas Together: Five Steps to Bliss in Your Human-Pet Marriage (Handinpaw Press).

Curator & Host,  Arkady Westwartine 

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