Have you ever considered getting hitched to your pet? Well, there is a place online where you can do just that, called Marry Your Pet. The remarkable lady behind this enterprise is Dominique Lesbirel. We caught up with her to have a chat about marrying your pet.
Dogster: Where did you get the idea of setting up a website where people could get married to their pets?
Dominique Lesbirel: These days, more and more people are single. Relationships are tricky, but our pets give us unconditional love. We never feel lonely with their happy faces waiting at the window. Plus the bond we have with them is so special it requires celebrating. There are too many animals without homes, too many abused. Marry Your Pet was a way to start a conversation about this while simultaneously putting a smile on everyone’s face.
How many people have gotten married to their pet via your website?
It’s about 100, but I accidentally drowned my old laptop in tea and lost a lot of the original records.
What is the strangest pet/human marriage you have come across?
It was a woman who married her pig, but mostly people get married to their cats and dogs. For me, it’s not an issue as long as there is love and respect, and that the animal qualifies as a pet (for example, no orangutans or lions).
What about divorce? Has anyone you have married ever asked for a divorce?
So far no one has asked, but if they did I’d refuse. I’m old school in this respect. You make a promise both to each other, but also to me, and I intend to make sure that people keep it.
Do you marry people to more than one pet?
As long as the pets are the priority, bigamy is fine with me. You can marry your pet if you’re already married to a human, and you can also marry more than one pet. Many people have several pets and love them equally (like Barbarella, the writer of this story, who got married to her tabby twins). Gender isn’t an issue either — it’s the love that counts.
Do you also marry pets to one another or only to humans?
I don’t do pet/pet marriages. It’s just not what the site is about. It’s about celebrating this incredible bond we have with our pets, and it’s also a metaphor for our responsibility to them. I don’t consider it a stretch to presume my pet will accept my proposal, because at the end of the day I am responsible for him or her. But I can’t begin to make these kind of assumptions about how my pet feels about another pet, and I certainly can’t make promises on their behalf.
Most people believe that a proper marriage has to be consummated. What are your thoughts on this in view of pet/human marriages?
For me, marriage is a promise that you’ll be there for someone for as long as you live. Bestiality is sick, and I welcome the opportunity to be clear about it. For a human to have sex with any animal other than a human is screwed [up]. Other than this, surely the details of any marriage are private. There are so many problems with this kind of thinking, it doesn’t actually bear thinking about.
Is it legal to marry your pet in any country in the world? Are the marriage certificates you hand out official?
A couple of years after I had launched the site, I decided to do things as properly as I could. I have been ordained online — I am a priest — and I am entitled to perform marriages. So the certificates are official, but they’re not recognized by the church. I don’t think it’s legal anywhere to marry your pet.
You were married to your cat Doerak, but sadly he passed away, bless him. Could you tell us about your marriage? And how did you meet?
I met Doerak at an animal shelter in the year 2000. I had recently moved to Holland, and he was a present from my boyfriend, Peter. I looked around the shelter for hours but couldn’t find my cat. I didn’t want a kitten, as older cats always need homes. I told the director I wanted one who would really be my buddy. A few minutes later, I was holding Doerak — then called Jan-Willem. He was 3 years old. She said he had been found in the snow and had a tough time, and that we were perfect for each other.
But when I got him home, he disappeared under a table and only came out when we were asleep. It was literally about three months before he’d come out during the day. He had been kicked around and wasn’t trusting anyone. Slowly he learned to trust me, but even years later he’d only cuddle Peter when he was asleep.
I married him shortly after I began Marry Your Pet in 2003.
A couple of years ago, he had a stroke and went a bit senile. Clearly we should all be aiming for senility, as from then on he totally enjoyed life and was no longer afraid.
In January this year, I had to have him put to sleep as he was suffering from kidney failure. When he stopped even drinking his milk (he was a milk junky), I knew it was time to let him go. He was 19. Although I miss him terribly, I’m happy he spent his last years lazing by the window, without a care in the world except for when his next bowl of milk would materialize!
Note: “Doerak” means “little trouble.” According to my boyfriend, I’m big trouble, and Doerak was the mini version.
You are now planning to marry your dog, Travis. How did you two meet? What’s the story behind this?
Travis found me when I was living in Greece. I used to swim in the sea every morning, and one day he just turned up. He was about 6 to 8 months old and scarily thin. From the back, he looked like he was wearing trousers several sizes too big! I think maybe he was thrown out of a hunting group, because he has an incredible nose but is terrified of gunshots.
Travis was hanging around by the bins, and he ran off as soon as he saw me, but I left him some dog biscuits and a tub with water (one of the biggest problems for strays in Greece is they have to drink seawater). The next day, he was waiting for me. I brought him bacon, and from that moment I was his “Wonder Woman.”
I actually tried not to take Travis home with me, but he stole my heart. I kept going to the beach to check on him, and after a while I spent more time there than at home.
Then he got really ill, which is a whole other story, but let’s just say we were really lucky. By the time he recovered, I didn’t know where my arm ended and his lead began. When I returned to Holland, I thought it might be difficult with Travis, as I work freelance and am always going to different companies. Amsterdam is pretty dog friendly, but people reacted like I was crazy when I said I wouldn’t work for them unless Travis could come too. However, he has impeccable manners and charms everyone. We go around in a “bak fiets” (a bike that mums use to ferry kids around), and he sits there like the Queen of England, and the Japanese tourists go wild!
I feel so fortunate that he found me. Travis has positivity in buckets. It’s impossible not to be “up” when he’s around. He has his own Facebook page called Travis Pointer, which is where I share his joy with the world.
What are the differences between being married to a human and being married to a cat or dog?
For me, having a pet means unconditional love. You’re there for them no matter what — there’s no “get out of jail free” card. Travis and I are a team. I never question it, he’s never going to walk out on me. It’s simple, and it’s joyful, and I’m the boss. Other than having kids, I guess there’s no purer love than the kind we have for our pets. The only difference is that these kids never grow up. It’s just sad that we don’t have similar lifespans.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
One of the nicest things about Marry Your Pet is the contact I have had with people all over the world. There’s nothing better than turning on my laptop to find the story of how someone met their pet and a goofy picture of them together. It never fails to put a smile on my face. Some people think that marrying your pet is mad, but the [pet/human] bonds that I get to tap into just a little make me feel a whole lot more generous about this crazy world.
Taking Marry Your Pet into the future — what are your plans?
I’m currently organizing a major update of the website as it’s so out of date. I have masses of ideas, including working with animal shelters, but Travis gets grumpy if I neglect him, so it’s slow going.
If you’re planning to tie the knot with your pet, head on over to marryyourpet.com. Let us know in the comments whether you have taken the plunge yourself or know of anyone who has!
Read more interviews on Dogster:
- We Chat With Roy Varga, the Dog-Loving Pinup Photographer
- We Chat With Emmylou Harris About Her “Shelter Me” Episode on PBS
- We Talk to “DWTS” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba About Remember Me Thursday
About the Author: Barbarella Buchner — Ailurophile. Geeky Goth Girl. Ex-Musician Singer/Songwriter. Photographer. Web Designer. Fibromyalgia + RA Sufferer. And totally mad. She originally hails from Hannover (Germany), then moved to London, and since 2004 has lived on the tropical island of Lanzarote, together with her tabby twins Lugosi & Spider, and ginger queen Ruby Akasha. Apart from being an avid hobby — and sometimes even paid — photographer, she works as a freelance web and graphic designer and occasional Catster/Dogster contributor.