April 18, 2018 11:43 AM

Exes John Cena and Nikki Bella clashed over her desire to have children — and her love of animals.

The Total Divas star bought a puppy named Winston, but the Blockers actor had a tough time welcoming the French bulldog into their home.

From left: Winston, Nikki Bella and John Cena
Winston the Frenchie/Instagram; Inset: Broadimage/REX/Shutterstock

“Look,” he told Rolling Stone in April 2016. “I know I cannot handle raising a child. It’s like with the dog. My biggest thing to Nicole about the dog was: Love dogs, but I can’t contribute to taking care of one. I don’t have the time.”

“And just because everyone else is happy with children doesn’t mean that’s how I have to live,” he added. “I’ve been upfront about this. I just have things I need to get done. It’s not negotiable. We’ve been to therapy over it. I don’t think it will ever be over with. I’m stubborn as f— and extremely selfish as well. I don’t want kids, I don’t want marriage. That’s me just saying, ‘Hey, this is my life and this is how I’m going to live.'”

(Nikki’s twin sister Brie’s own Frenchie, Josie, also bit Cena’s leg in a Total Bellas episode aired in October 2016. “You should call animal control, and they should come out and take the dog away,” he told his girlfriend.)

Eventually, they gave their pup to Brie, though she still visits him at her sister’s house.

RELATED VIDEO: John Cena and Nikki Bella End Engagement Weeks Before Destination Wedding

“Nicole’s a very busy human being who may or may not have enough time for a Frenchie as needy as Winston, so with me retired and Brie retired, we have taken over the reins of Winston,” Brie’s husband Daniel Bryan explained in a video posted to the sisters’ YouTube channel.

Still, the decision was difficult for Nikki.

“I miss him. I think with John being gone, too, so much, I’m just back to being alone again,” she told Brie in a September 2017 episode of Total Bellas. “It’s just tough, because for a while, Winston filled that void so much. I just will always look at him as like my firstborn.”

“The other reason why it’s so hard — you have a baby, and that’s my baby,” she said, pointing to Winston. “And that’s gonna be my only baby, ever. I’m not gonna have a child, a human being, that will replace what a dog fills.”

Cena, 40,  and Nikki, 34, announced that they called off their engagement on Sunday, a year after he proposed during WrestleMania 33. The couple had planned to marry on May 5 at a destination wedding.

“On one level, Brie wants to kill him, sure,” a source told PEOPLE about Brie’s feelings to the man who  was supposed to become her brother-in-law. “No one should be allowed to hurt her sister like this. But honestly, on another level, there’s relief. Nikki was bending over backward to accommodate this guy and everyone, especially Brie, was worried that she was sacrificing way, way too much — most of all, motherhood.”

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