And They Called It Puppy Love
Theresia Lee had tried online dating once before, without much luck. Several years after her first foray into the world of virtual matchmaking with services like PlentyOfFish (POF), OkCupid, Match.com, eHarmony, and others, the senior communications and public affairs adviser from Vancouver, Canada, was ready for round two—only this time she was bringing her dog, a German Shorthaired Pointer named Nigel, along for the ride.
“I was looking for another dog lover this time, whereas that hadn’t been so much of a priority before,” she explains. “As a pet owner you have habits or a routine that revolve around your dog. For example, I can’t go out for drinks right after work because I have to go feed and walk Nigel. Men who don’t have a dog might not understand that.” Lee crafted her POF profile carefully in order to reflect exactly what she was looking for, and opted to keep it “hidden” so that she could contact bachelors who met her requirements.
“On a whim, the first thing I did was an advanced search—the age range I was interested in, distance from me…you can even search specifically for users that own a dog, so I did” she says. “Keith was the very first person who popped up.” The owner of an eco-tourism company called West Coast Aquatic Safaris, Keith Phillips had included images of his own dog, Henry, in his POF profile. And Henry just happened to be a German Shorthaired Pointer, like Nigel.
“I was totally blown away,” Lee recalls. “Not only was he a great-looking guy with all these amazing attributes, but he also had the same kind of dog as me! It isn’t the most common breed, either.”
Without hesitation, she sent Phillips a message introducing herself and Nigel. “I think I asked him if his pup is as crazy as mine,” she laughs. “They’re a very neurotic, high-energy dog—a ‘Velcro’ breed because they’re very attached to their people.” Phillips responded, and the two decided to meet—with GSPs in tow, of course.
“Right off the bat we were struck by how similar Nigel and Henry looked,” Lee says. “They also had eerily similar mannerisms—they both have this habit of spinning in the same direction…and they both get easily depressed.”
The dogs frolicked, the conversation flowed, and a relationship flourished. Phillips and Lee eventually discovered that their pooches were, in fact, siblings, with a local breeder in common. “I love Henry as if he were my own—knowing that they’re brothers makes it even more special,” says Lee, who celebrated her first anniversary with Phillips in June. “I would have fallen in love with Keith whether he had a dog or not, but the fact that he does and fully accepts my pet and everything that goes with that responsibility makes it sweeter.”
While this couple’s story is particularly serendipitous, the odds of two dog lovers finding each other online are better than you think. According to a 2014 survey by PetSmart Charities and Match, which asked 1,000 singles a variety of questions around dating and pets, 80 percent or four out of five Match members have or like pets, and 66 percent of respondents wouldn’t date someone who didn’t like pets.
Those figures don’t surprise Jane Carstens of Matchmaker For Hire. Asked if, in her experience, dog lovers want to be matched with other dog lovers, she says, “Absolutely! They even made a movie about it! It’s something quite special, the bond between humans and dogs.”
An animal lover herself (Carstens’ beloved 17-year-old poodle, Ruby, recently passed away), she says dog owners who share similar lifestyles tend to gel well and seek each other out. She’s even matched a man and his dog with a woman who didn’t own pets but “wanted a dog as part of her life along with a partner. Well, she got the package deal—they had to make room for three in the bed when they moved in together!” Carstens lists “nurturing, outgoing, and responsible” among the personality traits commonly associated with dog owners, and a new POF survey conducted specially for Modern Dog magazine confirms it.
When 1,000 POF users identified as dog owners were asked what traits dog owners are more likely to possess over non-dog owners, 73 percent of POF respondents answered kind, 66 percent answered loyal, 80 percent answered responsible, 19 percent answered athletic, 31 percent answered outgoing, and 45 percent answered trustworthy—all desirable dating qualities. Having a dog may even improve your chances of meeting a mate online. According to the PetSmart/Match survey, 35 percent of single women have been more attracted to someone because of their pet, and men are four times more likely (22 percent versus 6 percent of women) to use their pet to attract a potential date. On POF, 45 percent of dog owners are more likely to date or get into a long-term relationship with other dog owners—but that doesn’t mean online daters who have pets are always perceived in a positive light.
“You have to make big changes when you own a dog— maybe you’re more active or less able to travel,” says POF advertising and PR co-ordinator Shannon Smith. “If owning a dog has a big impact on your personal time, or how much time you have to devote to dating and a relationship, that’s something to reveal up front. It’s best to be honest on your profile rather than have to tell someone later on down the line that you may be less mobile or less available than they originally thought.”
As it happens, most dog owners on POF are forthcoming. 77 percent of survey respondents mention their dog in their dating profile and 51 percent feature at least one image of their dog. As Smith says, “Dogs make really good conversation starters.”
Despite the fact that seeking out other “dog people” is as natural online as it is off, Carstens warns that a happy photo of a fellow single with pooch posted to a dating website does not a relationship make.
“The perfect match is best to be in front of you, not on your computer screen,” she says. “Don’t get caught up in the online back and forth. You can spend months chatting and being infatuated with a made-up person—and their dog—before you meet them…so get your leash and get to the dog park!”
Must Love Dogs...
A survey* of 1,000 singles in the U.S. and Canada conducted by PlentyOfFish specially for Modern Dog revealed the following:
53% of respondents would be extremely likely to break up with someone who didn’t like their dog; 32% would be somewhat likely.
48% of respondents would be not at all likely to date someone who their dog didn’t like; 42% would be somewhat likely.
77% of respondents mention their dog in their profile; 23% do not.
51% of respondents feature at least one image of their dog on their dating profile.
25% of respondents think that owning a dog is an asset to their dating life; 45% of people aren’t sure if owning a dog is an asset to their dating life;
6% answered that owning a dog makes dating more difficult.
33% have brought their dog on a date; 22% have cancelled a date to tend to their dog.
1% have hid the fact that they are a dog owner to a prospective date.
When asked which traits dog owners are more likely to possess over non-dog owners, 73% answered kind, 66% answered loyal, 80% answered responsible, 19% answered athletic, 31% answered outgoing and 45% answered trustworthy.