As a Style Writer for InStyle, it's no surprise that Tara Gonzalez's style is chic. She mixes patterns, colors and textures without a second thought, and it's hard to miss her walking down the street.
It's also no surprise that her pug, Bjork, is equally as stylish as her. You might spot Tara and Bjork walking around the streets of Greenpoint wearing a matching pink and yellow harlequin knit cardigan, Bjork pulling Tara aside to greet every passing person. To witness the two of them together is to witness two fashion icons in the making.
Heed: Tell me the story of how you got Bjork?
Tara: I’ve always wanted a dog, and I've always really been fixated on pugs. My parents are from Spain, and they're super superstitious. My grandma would always talk about luck and superstition.
I used to have this pug beanie baby when I was in third grade, and thought of it as my good luck charm. I would stick it in my desk before a test and I took him everywhere with me. I feel like that manifested itself into my obsession with getting an actual pug.
When my boyfriend Rafe and I moved into our own apartment, we always thought we would get a dog, but it never felt like the right time. During this past year, I got a new job and Rafe got a promotion, and it just felt like a really exciting time at the end of 2019, which is when we got Bjork.
Heed: That timing is so interesting, right before a pandemic and a lockdown, which is a great time to be able to be at home for a new puppy. How was that?
Tara: It worked out that we got a dog right before we got into a lockdown and we just had to stay home all the time. My family is super into signs and symbols. My grandma didn’t even really like dogs that much before, but she's convinced that Bjork is a beacon of good, and my lucky charm.
When we got her in December 2019, she was so little. We weren't really taking her on walks because she didn't have all of her shots yet. She first started going out in March, which was right as everything was happening.
All of a sudden we would go on three walks a day, which I would not have done if I was at work, since she goes to work with Rafe. When summer happened, she was finally able to explore the outdoors, which was really cute to experience in tandem with her.
"A dog makes you slow down and actually interact with the world around you."
Heed: How did it change your perspective of Greenpoint?
Tara: A dog makes you slow down and actually interact with the world around you.
I feel like I'm always stressed or have a million things in my mind. Having Bjork has helped me set some boundaries and take 30 minute breaks in the middle of the day to say hi to all of these random store owners. It's actually been really nice to be part of this whole new community that I've lived in for two years now, but it feels brand new because of her.
She's become such a neighborhood staple. We’ve always said we want to move to a neighborhood and really be locals, but that didn't necessarily happen because of work and travel. Bjork will walk up to a bar and then all of a sudden we're in a conversation with someone, who then will recognize her every time we walk down Franklin.
I'm pretty sure nobody in our neighborhood knows my name but people love and know Bjork.
Prior to getting a dog, Rafe’s hesitation was about a dog hindering our social life. It actually added so much to our social lives. Socializing with a friend in Manhattan turned into socializing at the dog park, which just became so much easier and made more sense, because I see those people everyday and they make me feel at home in my neighborhood.
Heed Foods: Have you seen any changes in yourself?
Tara: I'm a very anxious person, I’m a perfectionist. I feel like I constantly overthink things, and that feels like my biggest flaw.
I have a really hard time slowing down, and it makes me feel anxious because it feels like I’m not doing anything. Especially during this time, there’s been so much time to dwell on what I’m not doing from a career/social perspective.
Having Bjork definitely gave me purpose and reframed some of that. Whenever we’re going on a walk, it really does feel like time well spent with her. I’m raising this creature, and that feels significant. It makes me feel less anxious, she’s just so cute.
Whenever I really start to panic about something, I just look at her, and she has no idea what's going on. It’s nice to have this living thing that's going throughout this entire episode with me, but without any idea or opinion. She never has any negative things to say! The time I spend training and playing with her took up a lot of time that I may have spent panicking.
Originally, I wanted to be a veterinarian and volunteered in hospitals for six years. I always loved spending time with animals, it always gave me peace and calm. I always felt like I needed a dog to calm down a little bit.
Heed Foods: How would you describe your relationship to Bjork?
Tara: I feel like I feel like she's my soul sister. I constantly think about all the circumstances that led up to me meeting her.
I really feel like we were meant to be. She's this little part of my soul.
[Speaking to Bjork] I wish you could comprehend English.
[Speaking to Heed again] Originally, Rafe and I were talking about getting a dog, and I joked that he was going to be a dog dad, or that she’s going to be our best friend. He said that I was being ridiculous and at most we would be pet owners.
I definitely feel like Bjork is more like my sister now, she’s a family member.
Heed Foods: What do you love about Bjork - what are the personality traits that stick out for you?
Tara: Where do I start? Oh my god. There’s so much. Firstly, I love that she’s so social. I’m a really social person myself, and what I love about her is that when we're walking down the street, she has to say hi to everybody. It takes me a really long time to get anywhere.
She’ll run up random steps to houses with the door open, and she’ll do the same at bars. When we go to the bakery, she’ll lay on the floor while I’m ordering something and start looking around for other people to interact with. I find it really endearing.
She’s also a really stubborn dog, which I also love about her. It's like she has a mind of her own, which was something I didn't anticipate with having a dog. Sometimes when we’re walking down the street, she wants to make a left and will sit down when I’m trying to make a right
She's really set in her ways, she has to have it her way or the highway, but she will also follow me all around the house and do everything that I do.
She’s also pretty sassy. Something that Rafe and I noticed right away when we got her is that she doesn't like to share, and she really loves her things. She’ll take her toys and hide them around the house and won’t want us to find them. Sometimes I’ll find them when I’m cleaning and she gets kind of mad at me. I looked under my bed the other day, and there was a pile of seven different things.
She's a sassy independent social butterfly.
Heed Foods: You have 30 seconds to speak to Bjork in the same language. What do you say to her?
Tara: I love you so much! Please let me clean your wrinkle, it's for your own good. Don't make noise when you're in your bag it means I'm trying to sneak you in somewhere. You need to stop yelling at skateboarders, they're your friends.