Dorri Olds

Dorri Olds
New York, New York, USA
December 19
Writer & Web Designer NYC
I'm a freelance writer who focuses on Creative Nonfiction, Movie Reviews, Celebrity Q&As, Dogs, Book Reviews, Author Profiles, and Nonprofits. My essays have appeared in many publications including The New York Times. I am a contributor to NBC's Petside, The Jewish Daily Forward and the Examiner. To see samples please visit: I'm also the owner of a full-service website design company located in Chelsea, NYC that offers communication solutions including search engine optimization (SEO), branding, copywriting and editing, social media, internet marketing and video.


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Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 10, 2011 11:33AM

The Curse of Having a Cute Dog

Rate: 16 Flag

My essay published on

Dorri Olds and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Buddy

Dorri Olds and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Buddy James

I reached for my iPhone right-handed while holding Buddy’s leash in my left. It was my best friend, Maddy.  I launched into a tirade. “If one more person asks me what kind of dog Buddy is I’m going to scream.”


“I’ve walked one block and four people…”

“It’s because he’s so cute.”

I imitated passersby in falsetto, “‘Oooh, what’s his name? How old is he? Where did you get him?’ When they ask what breed he is I have to say, ‘Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.’ It’s a mouthful and they never get it. ‘What kind?’ After three or four times I get so sick of chewing my cabbage twice I start barking, ‘He’s a MUTT!’”

“I think they’re just being friendly.”

“I don’t want friendly. I want to be left alone. For Pete’s sake, I work twelve-hour days. When I take a break I need peace and quiet.”

“Peace and quiet? You live in New York City! Maybe you need to work less so you won’t be so cranky.”

“Cranky? CRANKY?”

* * *

Buddy came into my life seven years ago, right after a devastating split. I’d found out the guy was married and the breakup nearly broke me. I felt splintered, defective, and out-of-order. Depression yanked me down and that’s where I stayed, wallowing.

One day, still telling everyone who’d listen how doomed I was, I ran into a neighbor who said. “You need a puppy. It’ll change everything.” I looked down at her dog. “He’s a Blenheim Cavalier King Charles Spaniel,” she said proudly.”

He had soft white fur with cow-like patches of auburn brown. His ears flopped like a beagle. He looked about the size of a cocker spaniel, but shrunken like a T-shirt in a dryer. His long lashes and dark eyes made him look like Bambi. When I smiled at him his tail wagged frantically and rhythmically like a windshield wiper.

I mulled over my neighbor’s suggestion. I called Maddy to discuss. “Puppies are a huge responsibility. You have to be home all the time.” I said.

“You’re home all the time anyway!”

Hmm, she had a point. I work at my Mac in my living room. My only commute is to trek to the kitchen for snacks. I began to weigh the pros and cons of getting a dog. I thought about my ex and how much I’d wanted a baby with him. I ruminated. Pets are expensive—con. The cost of a dog pales in comparison to raising a kid. There’d be no braces—pro. No college tuition—Pro. He’d never wreck a car—Pro! Pro!

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Buddy James

Photo by Paul Wesley

The next time I ran into my neighbor I asked her where she’d gotten her dog. She raved about a high quality breeder.

Instead of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I read How to Raise Your Cavalier and The Owner’s Guide to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I read both books in two days and decided to name the dog after my Uncle Buddy. I was nervous and excited and hopeful, like I’d felt before my first date with my no-good ex.

Preparing for this new pup made life joyful. Sort of—when any couple walked by I still seethed with envy.

My big day arrived. I went to pick up my doggie. The gates were down. I peered in the window and saw a teeny-tiny Cavalier the size of a Beanie Baby. The second our eyes met I knew he was mine. He looked scared and vulnerable and all I wanted to do was keep him safe. The owner pulled up the gate and I bee-lined to the crate. Buddy was placed in my arms. I held him to my chest cradling his itty-bitty head.

I carted him around in my purse and smuggled him into movies. This warm bundle challenged my sulking. On Saturday nights, when loneliness descended like a shroud over my living room, I played with my pup, reconciled to becoming one of those single old ladies who “married” her pet.

Buddy became a balm that soothed. He slept pressed against me and I’d lie awake to listen to his puppy snores.

Sharing him with someone even for an instant, especially a stranger in the street, felt like a band-aid yanked off a burn.

I was accosted when I walked him, like stars and their paparazzi.

“Oh, he’s so cute.”

“Can I pet him?”

“Where did you get him?”

“What kind of dog is that?”

I couldn’t stand all the questions. Sometimes I spoke Russian-sounding gibberish, ‘I g’no shpeak Eenglish.’

Other times I pointed to my mouth like I couldn’t talk because I was eating. People ogled. I snapped, “Move, can’t you see I’m walking here?”

Then one day, for the millionth time, somebody tried to pet my dog. I didn’t even look up. Just yanked Buddy closer to me and grumbled, “Leave us alone, we’re busy.”

As I was walking away I heard the guy mutter, “Geez, I’m busy too. I just wanted to say hello.”

I stopped. Suddenly I saw who I’d become and felt ashamed. I turned to apologize to the man but he was already crossing the street. I watched this handsome man walk away in his tasteful suit and could’ve kicked myself. I’d whined to my friend, Maddy, the day before, “I’ll never meet a man.” Her response now reverberated in my head. “It would be much easier to meet a guy if you weren’t walking around pissed off and in a hurry.”

Buddy and I strolled to Madison Square Park and a breeze went through my hair. I decided that I didn’t want to end up a bitter, irascible, curmudgeon. As we walked toward the dog-run Buddy tugged excitedly toward a nice looking dude with a pooch. My anger and disappointment with the world lifted for a moment. I smiled and found myself saying, “Excuse me, what kind of dog is that?

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I hear ya, sis!! I have two cute dogs!! Oh, by the way, he is CUTE!!
Very enjoyable story.
How old is he?
What's his name?
Can I cuddle him?
How often do you have to bathe him?
What food do you buy?
DOES HE BITE???????????????? Rated
Hi Brazen Princess and Heidi! Here's the answers to your questions, Heidi: He is turning 8 this Sat. His name is Buddy James. He would love to cuddle with you! He's a lovebug. We live in NYC so I bathe him 1x/week usually. I use gentle organic shampoo. I feed him Science Diet and Wellness and give him organic doggie bisquit treats. No way, he never ever ever bites. He is the most gentle soul in the universe. :)
Great piece! I'm a cat person (they bathe themselves and don't need to be taken for walks when it rains or snows), but I do get dog-hankerings regularly. Thanks for making me smile on a gray morning!
Very cute. Glad he helped you so much.
We have matching mutts; our Cavalier is a she (I've dropped the King Charles and the Spaniel from the oft-asked). So the cars are slowing down to look at her - that helps. Nicely done article.
I have a new puppy - Jake, a chocolate lab/pointer mix. He is the cutest, except for his werewolf paws that signal his eventual hugeness.

I have met so many neighbors I never spoke to before, and had so many conversations with strangers b/c of Jake. If not for him I'd be doing my usual -head down, gettin' it done, only planned interactions. Life gets so busy, it can be easy to forget to look up and live.

Dogs are love. So, walking a dog means sharing the love. :-)
Was hoping for more photos of the dog.
Oh, thank goodness you changed your tune, that was tough to read at first.
That said, I treasure my cute dog that everyone wants to know about too, and I can relate to just trying to have a quiet walk. : )
It is worth indulging fellow humans I've learned, the world itself looks much more hopeful after chatting with smiling strangers who were lifted in their day as well by the cute dog.
Thank you all for your lovely comments! @Retablo, you can see a gazillion pix of my dog on Facebook!!! :) @JustThinking I too am glad that I got through that awful time of anger and hurt. Dogs are so magical!! And again, thanks to all for reading the essay and posting a comment!
Glad to see I'm not the only one who brags about her dogs. I am a huge dog person. I have a Goldendoodle, Daphne and a small poodle, Phoebe. They are 2 lights in my life and I've written about both of them. -R-
None are as cute as a pom-poo!
Terrific story -- lively and well written and shows how much you can learn about yourself in the most mundane encounter, if you pay attention!
Dogs are indeed people magnets. I was walking down our street with the dog, the 6 month old & 3 yr old kids. The neighbors from the porch said hi to the dog
Paraphrasing Crocodile Dundee:
That's not a cute dog. THIS is a cute dog (pulling out picture of Dodger the Doberman).
I was going to post that 30 minutes ago but the bugger got hold of the TV remote and we have been circling each other until a combination of threats of grounding and strategically dropped cookies made him give it up. Cute, sure, obedient, hell no.
Adorable! But don't care for dogs here, except perhaps as a means of occupying small, attention-starved children. When one is adult, single and romantically-inclined, the subtler seductions can be trampled in a kennel setting. Quacking, woofing, meowing and barking tend to drown out the sweet nothings, if you can hear me. Keep the animals outdoors, please!
I feel your pain :) I have 2 Norwegian Elkhounds and only occasionally do I get someone who recognizes the breed...They've been called Huskies, Shepherds, Wolves and even, "Look, that lady is walking a FOX!" I do love little Cavs, mellow and sweet!
Dogs are amazing and can be so healing. Maybe you could think about sharing him with others-children?seniors?
Pets are awesome and dogs make wonderful companions.
Congrats on the EP!
When I was pregnant and I was reading, "What to expect" -- this was one of the things they talked about. Now, as a breeder, I talk to all my "new parents" about this syndrome and how they need to avoid it if the pup is not fully vaccinated yet. It's good to socialize a puppy but only if it's safe. Most people don't know what a longhaired mini dachshund looks like, so I also tire of the, "What kind is it?" query. Most of our adults appear to be pups and few people can grasp that they are petting a 5-yr-old or a 10-yr-old.