I’m a very proud dog mom. I always had pups growing up in India, even though we moved every two years, because my dad was in the army – a home is not a home without a dog.
Diana was the first pup that I fully took care of. She’s from North Shore Rescue in New York, and she chose me. It was four years ago, at a time in my life where I was really low: I had just moved to the States, I was mourning my father’s death, I didn’t know anybody – I was working on Quantico for ABC and going back home on my own. One day, I was doing an interview with BuzzFeed, and they unleashed all these puppies on me and I was supposed to answer questions when I was handling them. Diana kind of hid under my arm. I just fell in love with her and had to take her home.
Diana had been rescued from the streets of Atlanta. She’s a chihuahua-terrier mix, I think, but we’re not completely sure. I had no idea what to do with a pup, but it was she and I, alone in New York City. It was Diana I snuggled into, and Diana who barked whenever the door opened. With Diana, I had somebody to take care of and, in return, she took care of me. I feel that about my pups in such a big way. If you look after them, they really look after you; they heal your heart. They make us more human.
Panda was a more recent pandemic adoption from Hollywood Huskies, a rescue shelter in LA for big pups. His mother was found on Ventura Boulevard, pregnant and abandoned. I don’t understand people who abandon dogs. She had a collar and everything. So Panda was born in the shelter; he was a really cute pup with one blue eye and one brown – a Husky crossed with Australian shepherd. He’s still a baby now, but he’s a complete punk. An adorable punk.
Everybody wants a pup at the moment, because they are at home, but they don’t always realise how much work it is. So a lot of dogs get abandoned on the streets, not even at a rescue centre. House dogs who are used to living in a home, and being fed, are left to fend for themselves. It’s crazy. Inhuman. Some humans don’t deserve dogs. When you are adopting, the rescue centre come and vet you as well. They want to know if you are committed.
I don’t think going forward I would ever again want to get a dog that’s bred. A year or so ago I got my husband [Nick Jonas] a German shepherd pup, Gino, from a breeder, for our anniversary. But I bought him specifically because Nick is diabetic, and German shepherds can smell low blood sugar. Gino has a bark that could wake up someone from the grave, but his eyes are soft, and he has a gentle heart. In any other circumstances, I think the only way to have dogs is to adopt them. But it can be challenging. Diana had separation anxiety; she was really scared because she was so little when she was taken from her mom – three weeks or so. I don’t think she saw a lot of love. She didn’t like to be left alone, even in another room. She’d scratch the door up. She’s gotten much better, but I still can’t leave her. She has to come to film sets with me. But she’s small, so it’s OK. Now she travels with me most places; she’s grown up on film sets, so she knows when to be quiet – she’s super-clever.
Panda, on the other hand, was born in the shelter – I think that’s why he’s so spoilt. He just looks into my eyes – and pees wherever he wants.
But I’m a sucker for my pups. Nick and I are obsessed. They even have their own Instagram accounts. All three of them have completely different personalities, and Nick and I play characters with their socials. I love imagining what’s going on in their brains and putting dialogue to it. And I spoil them so much: bones, toys, clothes. Diana is very into wearing sweaters and feeling cozy. So she and I match a lot. We both wore white tiger print for the release of The White Tiger on Netflix. She was named Vogue’s most fashionable dog in Hollywood.
I have so much gratitude to rescue centres for doing the work that they do. And for my own furbabies. And I do feel like that about them. I’m not a mom, so I can’t claim to understand the feeling, but they’re the closest I have. I wake up when they’re troubled. I’m concerned if they’re warm, if they’re feeling OK, if they are hungry. They’re part of our family.
And they are a part of everything. Sometimes too much! Every time I workout on a Zoom call with my trainer, whenever I’m doing crunches, Diana comes and sits on my stomach. It’s like having 30 extra pounds. And Gino follows me everywhere – including the bathroom. He just sits there, and stares. Initially it was a little weird, but now I’m just like: whatever floats your boat.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ memoir, Unfinished, is published by Michael Joseph at £20. The White Tiger is on Netflix