My Dog Owns Me

Amy with Dora. Photo Sarah Whiting

My husband and I are impulsive. We moved into our first apartment four years ago. We brought home our first cat, Albus, from the Humane Society a month later. He was the first kitten they showed us, and the only cat we interacted with. We didn’t even have a litter box or pet carrier. We got our second cat, Remus, a few months after that. 

The next year, we started talking about buying a new car — our first major purchase after college graduation. I spent a few days researching models and convinced him to “just go to the dealerships to see our options.” I promised we would not come home in a new car. We did. 

The following year we got engaged, and married nine months later. We bought a house after looking with our realtor for three weeks. 

When I said we were “just going to look” at a litter of puppies needing to be rehomed this past May, my husband should have known better. Instead, he sat in the passenger seat on the way home, holding our new puppy while muttering his surprise.

We’d been talking about getting a dog off and on since moving into our house with its large, fenced-in backyard. We’d spend days looking online at available dogs at the shelter and local rescues. Then, we’d talk ourselves out of it. We didn’t want to spend the money. We didn’t want the extra responsibility. We didn’t want to give our sensitive cat Albus a heart attack. 

We definitely didn’t want a puppy. The youngest we would go was 10 months, but a dog around a year or two would be best. Definitely a calm breed that would enjoy napping on the couch while we played video games or watched Netflix. 

What we brought home is a very energetic springer spaniel mix who refuses to sleep unless you force her into the kennel when she’s obviously tired. She was five days shy of turning eight weeks. We named her Nymphadora, to keep that Harry Potter theme going. We call her Dora because yelling “Nymphie” across the dog park is inappropriate.

Not a day goes by that I don’t regret my impulsivity. I was not prepared for a puppy who needed to be potty trained. I was not prepared for a puppy who needed to be taught how to go up and down the stairs. I was not prepared for a puppy who needed to be exercised hours each day. I was not prepared for a puppy, period. 

Having Dora in our lives has changed everything. We take several walks a day now. We are at Petco every freaking weekend; cats are cheap compared to dogs. We have to pause Netflix every few minutes to tell her to “leave it.” 

Dora has a penchant for the TV remote, any hand towel hanging in reach, and flip flops. Her favorite game is keep away. She knows what will earn her a timeout. She flips her water bowl so that we will scold her — give her attention — and bring out a towel to clean the mess. 

And oh, our poor cats. Dora body checks them every chance she gets. It started as her wanting them to play with her, but now I can tell she does it simply to be a jerk. 

Yet, every day I look into those sweet brown eyes, press my forehead to hers, and tell her what a good girl she is.

Amy is an avid reader, coffee drinker, and gamer (of the board and console variety). She lives in St Paul with her husband and their three pets.