Miss Juno, right, and The Maine Millennial’s newly adopted dog, Janey, are getting along well because Juno expects to be both loved and feared, and Janey has duly toed the line. Photo courtesy of Victoria Hugo-Vidal

For the past few generations, the traditional progression of adulthood has been: 1. Marriage; 2. House; 3. Babies. Or, occasionally, 1. House; 2. Marriage; 3. Babies. For millennials, it seems to be: 1. Rent an apartment together; 2. Adopt a dog; 3. That’s it – there is no third step. My boyfriend (call him Ishmael) and I already share a apartment. And two weeks ago, we took the second step.

That’s right, you guys. I adopted a dog.

Her name is Janey. Originally, her name was spelled “Jany” and she is from California, but we met her in Westbrook, at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland. She was the only animal who cowered in her crate as we walked by her pen – as the shelter put it, “she crate-trained herself.” They estimate her age at 3, and she has fairly prominent teats, so at some point she had puppies.

She has a big scar on top of her head – nobody knows where it came from, but she flinches when hands move too fast and hides behind me when strange men approach, so we suspect the worst. Despite her fearfulness, she also had a history of daring escapes, including once jumping out of the window of a moving car and going on the lam for two days.

She is, of course, perfect.

I would describe her breed as “miscellaneous” or maybe “et cetera.” Janey is a true-blue, all-American, Heinz 57 certified mutt. She’s 25 pounds, beagle-bodied with the face of a chihuahua, the black-and-tan coloring of a German shepherd, the expressive ears of a terrier and a hound’s nose for finding disgusting things to roll in. (And yes, I’m going to DNA test her at some point.)


Adopting a dog is a little like having a baby, in that you make this big commitment before you know what their full personality is going to be. (Also, the pooping insanity. Janey did her business on a power strip. It melted.) But that’s also one of the most rewarding parts of the whole process – watching them come out of their shell.

Watching Janey relax and open up has been literally one of the greatest things I have ever had the privilege of witnessing. On her first day at our house, she refused to come out of the crate. It’s been two weeks and now we can hardly get her back in the crate anymore – she just likes the bed so much. Her favorite spot is under the coffee table, at my feet, while I’m on my computer. (Janey seems to be a Mommy’s Girl. My boyfriend is a little jealous, but I say it’s payback, because my cat likes him better.) She hasn’t quite figured out toys yet, but she absolutely loses herself in sheer, unadulterated joy when you pick up her leash – toe-tapping, butt-wiggling, whining-and-squealing glee. (That’s another thing about Janey – she doesn’t seem to bark. Just whines, sometimes with a yelp or two thrown in for good measure.)

If you see me walking her, chances are I will have a fanny pack of treats (and poop bags) strapped to my waist. I make sure to give everyone Janey meets a treat to offer her, because we are trying to teach her that not every person in the world is going to hurt her, and that in fact many of them are nice, and may give her treats. It’s slow going. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve apologized and asked people not to be offended when Janey sniffs their hand briefly and then ducks away to hide behind my legs. We’re working on it. But considering how much change and upheaval and, in all probability, suffering she’s been through in her short life, I think Janey is being very brave indeed.

How is my cat, the famous Miss Juno, handling the new arrival? Well, Machiavelli was wrong when he said that love and fear cannot exist together, since Juno wishes other beings to both love and fear her in equal measure, and Janey has been more than willing to offer up both love (tentative sniffs, adoring gazes) and fear (scuttling away if Juno looks her in the eye).

Since the cat’s status as Empress Queen of the Household remains unchallenged, she doesn’t mind the new arrival much at all. In fact, I think she’s teaching Janey. When I fold laundry on the weekends, usually it is Juno who jumps on the bed and lies all over the unsorted socks. This week, Janey did that. And when Janey assumes her favorite spot on my feet underneath the coffee table, Juno sits on top of it.

I am sure many of my future columns will be written with their assistance.


Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:


Twitter: mainemillennial


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.