How I Became a Dog Person

I didn’t want to get the dog, but my daughter insisted, and she was the one who was dying

Jacqueline Dooley
Published in
8 min readFeb 3, 2023


Roo, age 4 months — photo by Ana Dooley

Back in 2016, getting a dog seemed impossible. We already had so much on our plate and adding one more thing — a wild card, an element of chaos, another responsibility — was not remotely appealing to me at the time.

But my daughter insisted, and she was the one who was dying.

I made the decision to get her the dog when we still had a small measure of hope about her survival. We knew her prognosis was bad, but we were still in fight mode.

In November of 2015, my daughter’s cancer had reached some sort of internal tipping point. Maybe it was because her oncologist stopped one of her medications or maybe the tumors in her lungs, abdomen, and pelvis had multiplied to such an extent that they’d gained the mettle to organize an internal coup.

Whatever the reason, that November there was an explosion of new growth in her abdomen. The next month, a week before Christmas, she endured eight hours of surgery to remove them. By January of 2016, she was preparing for three weeks of radiation, scheduled to commence in February.



Jacqueline Dooley
Human Parts

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