Jodi Taylor, the editor of Coveteur, splits her time between Toronto and Brooklyn, where her girlfriend, Lauren Cardenas, lives with their pit bull-lab mix from Muddy Paws Rescue, Venice. When Venice isn’t lounging in bed with his moms, he’s training to be a service dog—an important duty to his mom, Lauren, who comes from a military background, or taking naps at Soho House. Venice also loves RSVPing to Fashion Week events or tagging along to romantic date nights with his moms.
Did you two grow up with dogs?
Lauren: Definitely. My mom thought she was a shelter. She rescued animals for a living after Hurricane Katrina, and she took in four dogs at a time. But I also grew up with Golden Retrievers.
“He’s definitely a little socialite.”
Love that. Was your mutual love for dogs part of your courtship process?
Jodi: No! We never really talked about it. But once we started seriously dating, we talked about how much we wanted a dog.
A lot of people hit a milestone in their lives when they decide they’re ready to get a dog. Was there a defining moment for the two of you?
Lauren: I think I realized I was washed—going out and living that life was over. I wanted someone to be a homebody with me. The most important thing was that we wanted to rescue a dog. There are so many dogs in the shelters in New York, and we especially wanted a pit bull. So, we applied to Muddy Paws.
There was another dog we wanted, but we lost that dog because we were busy traveling. But Venice popped up because [Muddy Paws] sent out early adoption availabilities. His name, originally, was Tom and he had a brother named Jerry. They’re pretty much identical. I moved a business trip just to be here the weekend that he was going to be up for adoption. I knew we had to get him after 30 minutes of FaceTiming with him.
How did you know that Tom-slash-Venice was The One?
Jodi: We wanted a pit bill or a pit bull-mix, and we had been looking for a puppy. I mean, Lauren wanted a puppy, and I’d come on board to getting a puppy. We saw the photo and we were done. His eyes told the whole story—he had a lot to say with his eyes. We knew immediately that it was love at first sight.
So, Lauren—I wasn’t there—went to a PetSmart for the adoption event, and he was late! We thought he wasn’t coming!
Lauren: My best friend came with me. We sat on the steps of PetSmart. It was super sad and cold. But I was determined to get him. As soon as he arrived, they set us up to play with him and see how it feels. I was almost in tears—I knew he was The One. He was super chill. Even now, we’re still waiting for him to chew a shoelace or something.
What do you love about pit bulls, and why was it so important that you adopted a pit bull?
Jodi: I don’t personally love the idea of going to a breeder and getting a dog when there are so many other dogs that need homes and there are a lot of kill shelters out there. That was something we were both really aligned on. A lot of people think pit bulls are really mean dogs, so they’re the last ones to be adopted, the first to be looked over—but they’re actually really loving and friendly dogs.
You also live with a cat.
Lauren: Mr. Puddles. Venice doesn’t even realize that Puddles is a cat—he just thinks Puddles is another dog in the house. When Venice was smaller, that was fine, but now that he’s bigger, we have to make sure he doesn’t jump on the cat. It won’t go well.
Mr. Puddles is a Scottish Fold, so he has the [folded] ears. Puddles himself thinks he’s a dog—he’s not like a normal cat at all. They co-exist really well.
How did the name Venice come about?
Jodi: We met in Venice Beach, actually. We were paying homage to that, and that’s why his Instagram handle is @venicenotthebeach.
Tell us about a day in life with Venice.
Lauren: Venice is in training to be a service dog. I have a military background, so this was something I really wanted to do. Venice goes everywhere with me. If I have a meeting at Soho House, Venice goes to Soho House and chills. He goes for a mile-long walk in the morning, and we get coffee. He knows exactly when we’re working to work because he can smell the subway, I guess. As soon as we get close to the train, he starts sprinting to go down the stairs. He sits right underneath me, on the subway.
We go to Aimé [Leon Dore], which is our favorite store in SoHo. I only got there because they demand that they see him. So, I go in there to get a coffee, and he chills, and he lays on the couch. He’s got his key spots, but he’s definitely a SoHo dog. He’s definitely a little socialite. He put him around as many people as possible. We take him to the dog park, but he’s more obsessed with the people than the dogs at the park.
Jodi: We both work in the fashion industry, so Venice has been to Nike events since he was a baby. He’s been all over the place—he’s literally been everywhere. I have a place in Toronto, so he’s been there. He’s a Toronto-slash-New York-slash-international dog. He loves his grandparents’—my parents’—house. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and he goes off leash and runs through the trees and around the lake. He has the city, but he has a little retreat to nature, too.
Lauren: The first time he saw grass, he just wouldn’t stop sniffing it. He laid down and he wanted us to drag him with the leash right through the grass. He just flipped out when he got to Toronto.
Jodi: He’s been to a New Balance event at Fashion Week. We went to Aimé Leon Dore’s Porsche popup. A lot of the PR contacts are friends of mine, and I’ll be like, I’m coming with Venice, and they’re like, great, no problem.
I was hoping Sandrine [Charles] would bring Croissant to fashion events, but she’s more of a house dog.
Jodi: Venice and Croissant have yet to meet, but you know, that’s his cousin.
What is service dog training like? Can you tell us about the commitment it takes?
Lauren: It depends on what kind of task you want the dog to perform and how old they are. The training is about a month long, and there is a public assessment when they take the dogs out and test distractions or how they are with other dogs. Such as, do they beg for food when you’re sitting in a restaurant? Do they know how to lay down? The process is almost a year because you’re really training yourself, and you have to make contact with your trainer on a month-to-month basis to do that. I want to say at least six months worth of training has to go into service dog training.
But it depends on their personality. Venice was super easy—most people don’t even realize we have a dog with us. On Valentine’s Day, we went out to dinner, and we laid out a blanket, and he was just there. He’s like, I’m going to sleep, you guys do your thing.
Jodi: When it comes to date night, he goes everywhere. Any meal.
Lauren: He will be trained for alert tasks. If you’re about to have an anxiety attack or you’re overwhelmed in a big crowd, he will distract you from all that. He’s our peace of mind.
“A lot of people think pit bulls are really mean dogs, so they’re the last ones to be adopted, the first to be looked over—but they’re actually really loving and friendly dogs.”
The two of you have such great taste. What are some of your favorite dog brands and products?
Lauren: For his harness, we use Atlas. They’re based out of Colorado, and they’re big on sustainability. The leashes are made out paracord, the same rope we’d use to go rock climbing. They’re supposedly impossible to break, and they have a great policy in that if your dog does manage to break the leash, they’ll send you a new one.
Jodi: Or if they grow out of the leash!
Lauren: Yeah, if your dog grows out of it, they’ll take the materials and make something else out of it.
He recently grew out of a collar that we bought. So now, he wears a Carhartt collar. And he has a Carhartt vest for when it gets too cold. And he has a black hoodie—a basic one that we bought from Amazon. And then we use Zesty Paws, which is probably my favorite [dog brand].
Jodi: It’s a vitamin brand. Every day, he takes a 5-in-1 Multivitamin Bite and an Omega Bites Skin & Coat Support Chew, and everyone compliments his coat. They say they taste like chicken. It’s a treat for him.
What does Venice eat?
Jodi: He eats Blue Buffalo Wilderness—he likes the chicken flavor the best. We do a mix of the wet and dry, and we also use the toppers to put on the dry food. He’s recently had to eat more wet food because he lost all his teeth. We’ve also dabbled with Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw food mixers that you can mix with the kibble.
Lauren: We also subscribe to BarkBox Super Chewer, which is for bigger dogs. You can pick what dogs you want—we don’t want anything plush, nothing with stuffing. And it comes with treats every month, which sparks his curiosity.
Jodi: For baths, we use TropiClean Medicated Oatmeal & Tea Tree Dog Shampoo and TropiClean Lime & Cocoa Butter Deshedding Dog Conditioner. We both use cocoa butter lotion religiously—so this is perfect for us.
What’s the biggest indulgence you spend on Venice?
Jodi: We take him on a lot of long walks—he goes to the park, runs around, and then we stop by Ollie’s and he gets a Pup Cup, which is frozen pumpkin with whipped cream on top, and he loves it.
When we first walked into your home, you jokingly—or seriously—called him your firstborn. Do you consider yourselves dog moms?
Jodi: 100 percent. Absolutely. We’re one big family, aren’t we?
Does he get any traits from you? What do you have in common with him—or rather, are there moments when he does something and you think, yes, we definitely a family?
Jodi: He has this side-eye, and Lauren always jokes that he gets it from me.
Lauren: I love to sleep in, and Jodi’s more of an early bird. He’s definitely more like me in this regard. She’ll open the blinds or turn the light on, and he’ll pull the cover over his face and look at you like, “Are you crazy?” He’s definitely not the dog waking you up at eight in the morning.
Jodi: He’s a good sleeper.
Photography by Tayler Smith