City stories: Vanessa Rangel, 38, and Nelson Nustas, 43, in Jackson Heights, Queens

A sidewalk interview with two New Yorkers: "We don’t have kids, so our dogs are our kids”

Photograph: Jorge Quinteros

What brought you and your husband to New York?
Rangel [left]: We lost our jobs in Colombia. There, after you’re 25 years old, you’re too old to be able to work.

Tell me about your dogs.
Rangel: Lucas is eight, he’s the oldest. He is the father of Lulu, and Lola is the mother.

Why three?
Rangel: We don’t have kids, so they’re our kids. It's our family. Lucas was a gift from a friend who brought him from Colombia.

Did you ever want kids?
Rangel: Yeah, we really tried, but I can’t. For a while we had six puppies at home in a small studio—it was a huge mess. In the end, we decided to keep the little one [Lulu] because she never wanted to go.

Who’s your favorite?
Rangel: Um…

They won’t know.
Rangel: Well, they understand more than you know! [Laughs] Okay, it’s Lucas. He was the first dog I ever had—like my first kid. I taught him everything. He knows the hours, the days, everything.