Online Dating For Dogs

We had two dates set up for Wednesday evening.

The first was with a ten-month-old male. His owner needed to part ways with him after the trauma of a breakup and a cancer diagnosis. The other was with a young adult female who had been described by the animal control officer who picked her up as, “The best dog in the world.”

On the ninety-minute drive to meet the puppy, I mentioned to my husband that I was way more nervous about these dates than I had ever been about a date with a man. After all, on my human dates, the only thing at stake was the possibility of another date. A commitment that extended for a few hours and maybe made the decision to end things a little more messy.

But with a dog?

The stakes are much higher.

It’s less, “Hey, I think I like you and I would like to see you again” and more, “Well, you seem pretty cool. How about you move in with me for the next ten years?”

Other than that, the process is pretty similar, whether the companion sought is human or canine. The brief paragraphs describing the potential partner are read and re-read, carefully analyzing the words chosen. The pictures are scanned, trying to determine chemistry and attraction through a few static pixels. Memories of the former partner keep rising to the surface and with them, the inevitable comparisons that you keep swatting away in an attempt to keep your vision and perceptions clear.

Upon meeting, your senses are on high alert, trying to both take in your first impressions and also carefully monitoring for any red flags. There’s the usual awkwardness, as you’re trying to pair up rhythms and form tentative tendrils of nascent trust. There’s the exploratory dance with its unspoken questions: “Do you like me? Do you think we could make this thing work?” and its silent answers: “I do. I think so.”

There’s the strange mix of excitement for the rush of new love and trepidation for changing the status quo. The underlying and pervasion question of, “Am I doing the right thing?” And the fear, that sits heavy in the gut, of opening the heart again when the pain of loss is still so fresh.

We finally pulled up outside the address that was given to us for the first date. We sat in the car, waiting for the reply to the text saying that we had arrived.

I had conflicting emotions. On the one hand, I wanted the dog to clearly not be a good match so that the decision was already made for us. On the other hand, I wanted the dog to be a perfect fit for our family so that we could begin the process of sharing our lives with a pup again. Of course, what I wanted had no bearing on what we were going to find once we went through that door.

The date went well.

Very well.

Within a few minutes, he was responding to my husband’s corrections and a few minutes after that, he climbed into my lap and proceeded to initiate a make-out session.

Apparently, he had made his decision.

And a few minutes later, we made ours.

Welcome to the family, Kazh:)

So now we’re busy forming bonds, building trust and establishing expectations. So far, so good. This online date seems to be a success.

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