You Date Me, You Date My Dog: Finding Love as a Dog Owner

Dating can make anyone vulnerable, and I'm glad my dogs have helped me sort out the losers from the keepers.


It was a night with a full moon, and I should have known something would go awry. I had met up with a male friend for dinner, my first foray into dating since separating from my husband a year ago. Granted, I hadn’t finished filing my divorce papers, and perhaps my Pit Bulls somehow sensed my impropriety, but when Matt came inside my house to meet the dogs, all hell broke loose.

Other folks with Pit Bulls will understand when I say that Hudson and Falstaff were like charging elephants, with Matt as their target. Falstaff was a mix of kisses and loud barking, while Hudson slid into Matt, heavily bruising his knee, and then retreated to the rear to bark and look tough.

Granted, I could have made this introduction less painful, especially for my date’s knee, but then Matt wouldn’t really see the wonderful (I think it’s wonderful) chaos that is my world. As it was, this greeting was enough to scare off this man who went skydiving last year, his baseball cap flying off and forgotten as he scrambled through the door.

You’d be surprised at how meeting my Pit Bulls affects people, especially when they are prospective suitors. I feel sorry for any guy who has to face my canine committee, which helps sort out the losers from the keepers. I’m upfront about owning dogs and specifically pitties, but most people don’t really know what that entails. And guys (not to discriminate here) tend to think they can handle a Pit Bull with no problem, but don’t take into account the dog’s strength and protective qualities.

Other dates have ended less dramatically, but in the end, my dogs have only approved of one guy. Jake calmly ignored Hudson’s protests and Falstaff’s attempts to trip him by rolling onto his back into his path every few feet. They were both stunned when Jake sat down on the deck steps with a book and continued to ignore them further. Falstaff was forced to pull out his best tricks, such as almost standing on his head, and Hudson just looked dismayed. Sure enough, they both ended up liking this guy. I guess that’s playing hard to get.

But it’s also more than that: Dogs have great instincts about who people really are. They are naturally discerning. Jake was a dog person, so I imagine he smelled like his dog (a big hound) and that he gave off signals that he loved dogs. Matt was not a dog person. In fact, I realized later that he never talked about dogs. That’s a bad sign.

I’ve learned that, for dog lovers, the first question when you contact a potential significant other should be “Do you like dogs?” Then ramp it up and ask: “Do you love dogs?” Then: “Do you LOVE dogs?” Be persistent. If your would-be suitor can’t meet your dogs for whatever reason, test his reactions by stopping to pet a dog when you’re out, or sending an article about dogs and asking for feedback.

Before I even brought home any dates, I lost some potential connections because the guys weren’t dog-centric. I don’t mean they weren’t “dog-friendly.” I mean they weren’t “It’s okay that I let my dogs sleep in my bed and don’t go on long trips because I can’t be away from them.” Their world has to be focused on dogs, like mine is.

One guy was comfortable with little dogs, but upon hearing about Falstaff’s muscle-y 82 pounds, he flinched, and we never drank coffee together again. Some of my dates never happened at all because the guy was a) afraid of dogs, b) he had allergies and assumed the dog would make them worse, or c) he didn’t want to be expected to help take care of them. Also, one guy was so fussy that the thought of dog hair on his clothes was reprehensible. (Imagine if I had him over for dinner and he found a dog hair in it!)

I was enthusiastic, however, when I found out about sites such as Pet People Meet and Must Love Pets, which attempt to match dog people with dog people — a sort of eHarmony plus pets. These dating services are meant to ensure that once you actually meet the other participant, he won’t run screaming from the house with a dog stuck to his leg.

I signed up for Pet People Meet and immediately got some flirt messages. Woo-hoo! My profile was viewed nine times, though that’s not necessarily a good thing, since at least four of those views didn’t try to connect. (Maybe I need to change my photo.) It’s free to get your ego stroked, but there’s a fee to actually meet, and no guarantee that the hunky guy with the big mutt you see online is real.

After the few dates I’ve had since my husband broke it off, I’ve realized just how sensitive I am. Dating can make anyone vulnerable, though, and I’m glad my dogs have helped me sort out the losers from the keepers. I wonder what they’d think about a double date with a guy and his pooch?

Dogster readers, let me know what you think! Have you found dating is easier or harder because of your love of dogs? Has your dog ever “told” you that a potential partner was a loser and turned out to be right, or has he sniffed out the keepers? Leave a comment below.

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Photos via Shutterstock: Pit bull, dog with happy couple, couple with dog

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