Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer: Stef Skinner Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer: Stef Skinner
By Stef Skinner



I have always had a dog in my life — both literally and figuratively. When I first moved to New York, I would stop and look into pet store windows, or go to the dog park and watch them play, which, had they been children on a playground, would have been creepy. As the years went on, I started to plan out a life in my head with my then boyfriend and the english bulldog — “Van” — we would have together. Needless to say, both the future dream with said dog and then boyfriend are long gone. Cut to my now dog, “Sadie.”

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Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer: Stef Skinner

One year ago, I was about nine months out of a relationship, had changed apartments not once, but twice, and decided to quit my job and started freelancing. Clearly, the most perfect time to walk into an animal shelter and think about rescuing a puppy, right? Not really, but there she was on the screen; her name was “Mamie” and I knew she was going to be mine after I met her.

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Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer: Stef Skinner

My best friend Michelle was with me, and she just turned to me and said, “I’ll help you. This is your dog.”  Two weeks later I brought home Mamie and renamed her Sadie. If you’re considering getting a dog and are planning to raise it on your own, let me share what I’ve learned so far:

1. Do your research.

Sadie is a boxer/great dane mix. Cute as a button, but I  can’t get her on a plane. Apparently, boxers and bulldogs can’t survive in an airplane’s cargo hold because of their short noses — perfect for someone like me, who’s from Chicago and goes home for the holidays and over the summer. As a solution, I now drive Miss Sadie halfway across the country so she doesn’t feel left out. I hate to drive, but I can now cross road trips off of my bucket list (and add it to my routine).

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Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer: Stef Skinner


2. The perfect accessory.

Some have a fantasy of carrying their dog in the perfect Louis Vuitton bag, or dressing up in color-coordinated outfits, and forget it’s actually a living, breathing animal and not a doll. And while some pets are perfectly fine with these practices, a 50 pound dog with an attitude really isn’t ideal for playing dress up. What I’m currently on the search for is a harness and leash she can’t chew through, because that’s her new favorite activity.

3. Dog = child.

It’s all fun and games until your dog pukes on you in the middle of the night (true story). Your social life will take a major hit, which isn’t always a bad thing. If you don’t have a somewhat flexible schedule or can make your own hours, you may want to reconsider. There are unexpected vet visits, food allergies, and other occurrences that mean you may have to miss a meeting sometimes because your dog needs you. That after work dinner/drink might have to wait. Travel becomes harder, and let me tell you from experience: you really find out who your true friends are when it’s time to find a pet sitter.

4. Social Media.

I could go on and on about this, but here are the highlights:

I think the picture I posted to ‘announce’ Sadie’s adoption got more “Likes” than the one announcing I was a partner at the new company I co-founded.

If you’re single, post a few selfies with your dog. You”ll get a lot more “swipe rights,” conversations, and even dates — because they want to meet your dog. And meeting you? Maybe not so much.

Setup an Instagram for your dog. You never know…your pet could become Insta-famous and be your golden ticket out of working full-time.

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Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer: Stef Skinner


5. Best Friends.

As cliche as it may sound, you never fully understand the phrase “man’s best friend” until you’re a dog owner. The relationship Sadie and I have built over the past year is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. No matter what is going on in my day or life, the best feeling is knowing that when I get home, she’ll be happy to see me. I need her just as much as she needs me.

Finally, if dog’s aren’t your thing, and you prefer cats, the best advice I can give you is to find this guy in Tribeca/SoHo. He might have a few tips to offer…or at least make for a great picture to post on social media.

Screen Shot 2014 11 19 at 11.40.37 AM 628x632 The Skinny: Must Love Dogs
Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer: Stef Skinner