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Having trouble finding a partner for you and a parent for your dog? You’re not alone! You’d think going through a divorce after 20 years of marriage was the most hellish thing I’d been through, but no. Dating afterward has been even worse: the anxiety of getting ready for a first date, finding the meeting place, introducing yourself, and wondering what to talk about.
That last one is easy for us dog lovers. You talk about your dog, of course. The trick is not to limit your conversation to how cute your dog looks in his sweater and how smart he is (he can count to five!). Showing your date one picture on your phone of your remarkable pooch: fine. Going through the whole gallery of Fido’s pictures: not fine.
I’ve learned these sorts of rules after dating for two-plus years in New York City. Needless to say, my heart is still healing, my dating skills are lacking, and I grasp onto the subject of my Pit Bull, Bunch, as a crutch in those anxiety-filled dating moments.
One thing’s for sure: Within three minutes of meeting me, the guy knows I love dogs. But the question is … does he?
I’ve found that there’s no sense in going on a first date with someone who doesn’t at least claim to love dogs. In the less-than-truthful world of dating, we’ve all run into that guy who, when you mention your dog, exclaims, “I love dogs!” Yet, in reality, while he’s willing to pat a passing pooch on the head, the thought of walking one himself (especially every day) is frightening. So I now take any initial enthusiasm lightly.
The way I get out of any dates with such guys: I look at my phone and exclaim, “Oh. My. GOD! It’s my pet sitter texting me. Bunch is throwing up!” and exit quickly. What can he say?
So, I have begun perusing dog-specific dating sites and going to dog-related events. My thought is: Surely the guys on these sites, at these events, and at the dog park can at least tolerate dogs and may even, truthfully, love them.
Has this worked for me? Sort of. Bunch is a Pit Bull, and it’s tougher for a lot of people to be immediately comfortable with her than, say, a Golden Retriever. In New York City, small dogs are the norm, as well as pocket-size pooches, so guys here often think that a dog more than 25 pounds is more like a horse and should be approached cautiously.
Not every guy I’ve dated is skittish around Bunch, and if he is at first, it doesn’t mean it’s a total no-go. Take Dan (not his real name). We met at a dog event. He had a very mellow spaniel mix. When Dan met the exuberant Bunch, he involuntarily moved behind me.
Then take Steve (also not his real name). I met Steve online at a pet dating site. He had a tiny Yorkie, and when he met Bunch, he ogled her size and said he’d never seen such a big dog (Bunch weighs 60 pounds).
But Dan and Steve, being true dog lovers, adjusted to Bunch after a short while. (For reasons unrelated to their dog-loving natures, I no longer date Dan or Steve, though I’m sure they will make some pooches great doggie daddies.)
So, what’s my point? Dating sucks. And dating when looking for the right doggie daddy (or mommy) for your pooch is even tougher. And sometimes I wonder if I’ve always been overly harsh when it comes to picking a guy for my dog. After all, my first bumper sticker at the age of 16 read: “The more men I meet, the more I love my dog.”
But while I may be too picky in general when dating, the truth is that we dog lovers cannot be too picky when it comes to finding a co-parent for our dogs.
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About Kelly Pulley: Longtime dog owner and Pit Bull guru, Kelly has been a writer for Dogster for many years. She now tackles everything from controversial topics such as Pit Bulls to loving itty-bitty dogs despite their size. Catch her at www.petwriter.com and www.pitbullguru.com.