let me tell you about my pet

Jami Attenberg’s Dog Is a Con Artist

Photo-Illustration: by Preeti Kinha; Photo: Getty, Jami Attenberg

Jami Attenberg is a best-selling author who recently published her sixth novel, All This Could Be Yours. Her dog, Sid, is a puggle who loves eating and snuggling. Can she tell you about him? 

On how she and Sid came together:

I was finishing up a book tour, and I promised myself that if I could just get through this last bit of business I would get a dog. I was ready to get a dog. And I was sitting in a hotel room in Amherst, Massachusetts, just scrolling through PetFinder, you know, as you do obsessively when you’re thinking about getting a dog. And I saw him, and I just got in my car and drove straight to the shelter. I was like — I’m coming for you, cute little dog!

He’d just gotten fixed so he was all drugged up, and I didn’t get to take him until the next day, so I didn’t really know what his personality was going to be like. He was just like a little silly drugged-up dog. But I had a really good feeling about him.

Photo: Jami Attenberg

On Sid’s hunger for both food and snuggles: 

He is very hungry all the time. He is super food-motivated; he always wants treats and he always wants to snuggle. He is definitely a con artist and will do whatever it takes to get these two things: food and snuggles. Those are the two priorities for him. So that’s his deal.

He’s very gluttonous. He’s a super glutton. He knows all the spots to hit in the neighborhood to get treats. Like, there are neighbors who sit out on their front porch in the mornings who hand out treats, so he has those friends. And he knows which cafés have treats to give out to dogs. So our entire morning journey is basically just to little restaurant stops for him. It’s really cute, but he’s so fat now.

On Sid’s personality:

He’s a puggle — half pug, half beagle. He’s very sweet, but he’s not like … a great dog, in terms of, like, skills. He has no skills. He can’t hunt. I don’t think he would save me in a fire. He doesn’t really do any kinds of tricks. But he’s a good boy, and he’s the best dog. He’s just cute and wants his belly rubs. He’s sensitive; he knows when I’m feeling blue. I think the magic of everybody’s dog, or any pet, is that they will save you from an existential crisis at any moment. If you’re working at home, especially. It’s good to have a buddy.

Also I would say that my dog is — he’s kind of feisty. He’ll start shit with other dogs. Like when he sees a big dog he’ll try to go after them a little bit. Just as, I think, a defensive measure. And he’s also a little humpy. He likes a masculine presence, and he’ll hump any being with a masculine energy, regardless of gender.

On how Sid likes to spend his time:

He has a squeaky toy, which will occupy him for about ten minutes. His game is like — I’m going to chew on this squeaky toy, you can’t have it, you can’t have it, you can’t have it, okay you can have it and throw it. Now you can’t have it again for ten more minutes. So he’s not like one of those retrievers who will do the same thing over and over again, and just wants to run. He doesn’t really want to run very far. He just wants to argue with you a little bit, he wants to be in control of the situation. He’s like me, I also don’t have a lot of hobbies. So we have very limited hobbies over here. We like to sit and have a good time together.

Photo: Jami Attenberg

On keeping each other company:

He hangs out with me when I’m writing a lot. It’s just nice knowing, when you’re at home all day, that somebody knows you exist, besides … Twitter. So he’ll sit in the yard, in my view out of the window, and he’ll just keep an eye on me. And if I get up and leave the room then he’ll come over and make sure that I haven’t left the house or abandoned him. I think he worries that I’ll just never come home again — which is not going to happen! I will always come home to him! I’m getting a little emotional about it, but he’s definitely my best little buddy. Everyone’s dog is like that, though. I always think, “Oh, he’s so special.” But of course everyone’s dog is special.

Photo: Jami Attenberg

On the time Sid ate lipstick: 

When you adopt a dog, you don’t really know who they are for a couple months. Then eventually they start to show you their true self. I’m pretty sure this was the moment where I saw his true self. I came home one night and I was immediately like … what is going on here. And he was just like, “Hey, what’s up! I’m here just chilling out. I’m fine. Nothing at all has occurred since you’ve been gone.” And there was just lipstick all over him. And he was like, “Can I have some treats?” And I was just like, Oh. This is a dog who will eat anything, and who will lie about it, but he’ll be so cute that I will instantly forgive him.

So, he has eaten so many things. He’s eaten shoes, and he eats every toy that I ever give him. He just destroys them immediately. He has stolen food from the hands of children. Like, he’s no longer allowed to go to a county fair, because it’s just toddlers walking around with like giant popsicles or cookies or whatever. And he’s their height, so he’ll just go and steal the food from their hands. He’s just a food thief. And … well, you can’t really stay mad at your dog. I haven’t disciplined him. I can’t. He’s just so cute that I let him get away with it. That’s my bad.

On the emotional support Sid provides: 

This is a very tiny thing, but — I always move him down to the foot of the bed at night, because he snores and I just don’t want him sleeping next to my head. I can’t fall asleep with this dog sleeping next to my head. But always in the morning when I wake up he’s … right next to my head. He’s always just going to go for the comfort and the love and the snuggle. And then he wakes me up by, like, wagging his tail in my face. It’s so cute. There’s just something about the fact that this is what a dog does — they always come back to you. They always want to give you affection. They always want to support you. It’s just very comforting. And, you know, in this day and age, we could use all the comfort we can get. He’s carrying me through the Trump era.