But My Dog is Different

Jacqueline Dooley
9 min readMay 21, 2022
A black yorkipoo wearing a colorful sweatshirt stands on pine floor.
Roo in his new sweatshirt — Photo by author

My daughter, Ana, had many dying wishes when she was 15, but topping her list of wants was a puppy. And not just any puppy. Ana wanted a tiny dog, the kind that fits inside a teacup. She’d always loved tiny things, plus she was a bit afraid of dogs.

Getting the tiniest version of a dog must’ve seemed like the perfect solution to her. As an added bonus, pure white teacup Pomeranians look just like harp seals, an animal Ana adored.

But we soon learned that teacup Pomeranians run in the many thousands of dollars. We were barely able to pay our bills at the time, so that was out of the question.

Plus, they’re not exactly easy to care for. Teacup breeds (e.g., dogs of up to 5 pounds) are prone to health issues which can be significant — things like heart defects, seizures, and blindness. We convinced Ana to settle for a not-so-miniscule dog, a Yorkiepoo (half Yorkshire Terrier and half Miniature Poodle) — a dog that reaches about 10 or 11 pounds at maturity.

Roo was a 2-pound puppy when we picked him up from the breeder in February 2016, the same month that Ana was traveling 4–5 hours each day for radiation treatment.

I got him on a Tuesday and kept my younger daughter home from school because I didn’t want to be alone with him. I’d never owned a dog. I’d always been a cat person. This tiny, wriggly, nippy creature was a complete unknown to me.

I didn’t want the dog. I didn’t think I could care for or train the dog. I didn’t need the extra responsibility of dealing with a puppy when we were trying to keep Ana alive. But she was so desperately ill. Even with the radiation, we knew her cancer would likely keep growing. Ana needed him now.

So I got the damn puppy and we named him Roo.

Roo is nothing like my cats. In those first few weeks after bringing him home, I remember being annoyed at his neediness. You can ignore a cat. You feed the cat. You pet the cat. You are happily ignored by the cat. Not so, with Roo.

He followed me around everywhere. He wanted to eat my food and lick my fingers and chew on my toes.

He needed to be potty trained and taking him outside every two hours had seemed so burdensome. Can you imagine? Cats poop and pee in a box. Roo needed to…

Jacqueline Dooley

Essayist, content writer, bereaved parent. Bylines: Human Parts, GEN, Marker, OneZero, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Pulse, HuffPost, Longreads, Modern Loss