Co-owning a pet with my neighbour

“Since when did you have a dog, Steph?” is a question I often get whenever I show friends pictures of Cookie, a corgi-maltese, hanging out at my place.

Well, the answer is ambiguous. Cookie doesn’t live with me, but she comes over on most days for her meals, weekly showers, and even grooming sessions. We also make sure she gets lotsa TLC before we send her back to her original abode just across the street.

Simply put, Cookie is a pet dog my family and I co-own with our neighbours. Although she isn’t technically “mine” by virtue of where she lives, that doesn’t matter. The daytime interactions we have with her puts us in the same boat as all other dog lovers and pet owners out there. We’ve developed a familiar bond that makes her as good as being ours.

Here’s how my neighbour and I ended up co-owning a pet:

More content about our 4-legged friends:

Love at first sight across the street

I’m not entirely sure how Cookie ended up at my neighbour’s place, but folklore goes something like this: Cookie previously lived in another neighbour’s house, before her current owners adopted her. They’ve been looking after her ever since.

As for how my family got to have a share of Cookie, it was serendipity, to say the least. My family wasn’t hard-strung on getting a pet because of the commitments that came with it. Ironically, I was also afraid of dogs as a kid, so having a dog was something I could do without.

co owning a pet dog with neighbour
Hair all shaggy and unkempt, but she still stole our hearts nonetheless.
Image credit: Stephanie Anne Long

Needless to say, my woof-a-phobia was conquered when I first met Cookie.

I heard Cookie long before I got to see her in person. Like the koel birds that uwu precisely at 6am daily, Cookie would bark at 7.30am every morning. The birds I could ignore with willpower, but her barks were always loud enough to rouse me from slumber.

corgi maltese
Image credit: Stephanie Anne Long

It was when Cookie was out for a walk that I got to meet the culprit behind the incessant yelping. With other dogs you approach on the streets, you’re likely to be met with excitement as they start jumping and pawing at you.

But Cookie was not like the other dogs. For a pint-sized pup, she barked loudly whenever my family walked towards her, then ran away while looking back to see if we were following her. You could tell she enjoyed playing hard to get with us, as her tail would be wagging furiously – the universal doggy sign for happiness.

We would then play with her until it was time for either of us to leave. Even then, in our brief encounters with Cookie, it seemed like there was undeniable chemistry between us. Cheesy as it sounds, Cookie was the only dog we felt we had a real kinship with and it saddened us whenever we had to part.

Then one day, with the permission of Cookie’s owner and helper, my mum decided to let Cookie come over to our place to hang out for a short while. A short while soon turned into regular visits, which prompted some of my family to jokingly ask “Cookie, you’re here again? This is your house ah?”

Jokes aside, everyone enjoyed it whenever Cookie popped over and her regular drop-ins soon became daily affairs.

Being doggy “child care” takers during the day

We quickly fell into a routine of being Cookie’s co-owners. We would pick her up from her home in the late afternoon after her owners had left for work, and we would return her at night.

dog hiding under bed
Like a cranky teenager who refuses to leave their room, Cookie will continue lying under the bed even if I call her.
Image credit: Stephanie Anne Long

While my family did enjoy Cookie coming over, another reason why her owners were ok with it was because their house would mostly be empty during the day. Most of them worked 9-6s, and their helper was occupied looking after the homeowner’s ah gong and the house.

With Cookie left to her own devices, she often wound up sleeping under a bed throughout the whole day, only waking up for meals.

pet grooming before afterWe gave her a swanky lil facelift with a major fur trim, with her owner’s permission of course.
Image credit: Stephanie Anne Long

This explained her relatively unkempt appearance, as she couldn’t go for regular pet grooming sessions. Now that we were helping to look after Cookie, we decided to take matters into our own hands, transforming our home into a full-fledged doggy daycare complete with grooming services.

While pet salons were charging $200 per groom session, we saved that by giving her monthly fur cuts and trimming her nails in house.

coffee with dog
She joins me for coffee too.
Image credit: Stephanie Anne Long

That wasn’t all that was available at our daycare for Cookie. We would occasionally buy outfits for Cookie, which she would gladly wear and pose for us to snap pics of her photogenic mug. Needless to say, if you opened up any of our photo galleries on our phones, there’d be an endless stream of Cookie photos in there.

pet costumes for dogs
Image credit: Stephanie Anne Long

Just like any other pet parent, my family and I would also bring her for walks at the park, and get her to tag along with us on our cafe dates. This was great in getting her endorphins charged from getting exercise. And even better, we get to spend quality time with her.

For a dog that isn’t entirely ours, Cookie has been, hands down, spoiled rotten. But the truth is, we enjoyed spoiling her in our symbiotic relationship with her. On top of getting manjah-ed by us constantly, we also got to have lots of genuine fun playing with her. The joy we received from daily visits is second to none.

Splitting responsibilities with my neighbour

It may seem like we’re doing a lot for a dog we only half-own, but we feel the responsibilities are equally shared. And, we do have discussions here and there about what to feed her and when she should be groomed.

To make things easier, both sides settle their own bills for her daily necessities, depending on which home it takes place in. Like with meals, Cookie has one in each home, so we pay for the kibble and treats she munches on in our household.

looking after sick pet
When Cookie was unwell, we helped feed her when she was over at our place.
Image credit: Stephanie Anne Long

Besides that, each side does their best to look out for Cookie’s well-being. Once, Cookie wasn’t her usual self and was rejecting food in front of her. Both households then agreed to spoon feed her water and food to ensure she was getting enough nutrients in.

Thankfully, Cookie hasn’t had any major health issues for us to warrant any serious discussions on what we should do as co-owners. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, and for now, we’re just going to enjoy doting on her as much as we can.

The one reaping all the benefits of co-living in 2 homes is Cookie. She gets twice the amount of affection from getting snuggles from us in the day before she heads home for more cuddles from her other owners. And with all the love she gets from double the keepers, she doesn’t always have to bark to demand attention anymore.

Providing companionship to me and my family

pet companionship
Me internally dying, while Cookie is happily posing for the camera.
Image credit: Stephanie Anne Long

Having her around not only brought joy, she was a loyal companion that brought comfort. She was my #1 MVP through the rite of passage horror movie that is A-Levels. While other students sought out friends to help overcome A Levels stress, I had Cookie sit right beside me as my study buddy, as I grinded through 10-year series and prelim papers.

cute dog
Clearly a 180-degree change from lazing under the bed all day.

Our visits from Cookie didn’t stop, even during the pandemic. While many others lamented about turning into homebodies, I felt compelled to stay home more, just so that Cookie could maintain her routine with us for a sense of normalcy.

me and my dog
The first person who greets me once I’ve reached home after work.
Image credit: Stephanie Anne Long

In the meantime, the back-and-forths between our 2 homes have helped us to develop strong relationships with our neighbours. Prior to Cookie’s arrival, we didn’t really have much interaction with them. But co-owning a dog meant frequent conversing about Cookie.

In particular, we spoke with the helper often, whom we learnt from her that having Cookie at our place during the day brought somewhat of a relief to her. Without Cookie tagging at her feet waiting to be sayang-ed, she was free to run her numerous errands without much hassle.

Sharing a pet dog with my neighbour

dog walk
Many pet owners feel that, sometimes, they’d rather talk to their pets over the humans around them. For better or worse, I agree with this sentiment totally.
Image credit: Stephanie Anne Long

I know how odd this story can sound, as we didn’t have to buy or adopt a pet like most families do. But Cookie has proven to be just as much of a pet as any other family that owns a dog. To us, she’s been a godsend companion who just happens to live in 2 homes at once.

There are many other merits to sharing a pet with your neighbour as well. It helps that we needn’t hunt for a reliable dog sitter or book a dog hotel when we’re out of town. Possibly the only con I can think of is that it can be a little sad having to send Cookie home every day.

That said, I wouldn’t change the relationship we have with Cookie. The hours that this 4-legged cutie gets to have with us are few but precious. And we certainly appreciate every single minute.

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Cover image adapted from: Stephanie Anne Long


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