"Was/were" is far from the only option when it comes to translating the imperfect tense though. "Used to" is quite a good rendering in some cases, as well as "began to" when appropriate. You can even use "would" when it implies repeated action in the past ("Well, each morning I would get up at 6 a.m., I would wolf down some breakfast," etc.).
"meum canem amabam
" by the way.