The Water Bowl
Breed & Health Resources

Looking For Love: Compatible Human-Canine Connections

By Lea Jaratz

Some pets seem to find us as though it’s kismet. We find ourselves in the right place, right time, and our new companion joins our world as though it was an arranged marriage. Other times, we find ourselves looking for the companionship, the motivation, the affection that can only be found with an animal. That’s when we find ourselves in the pet dating pool, looking for love, searching for that special someone. Just as in human dating, there can be anticipation, excitement, and sometimes disappointment. Let’s take a look at dog adoption as a courtship between man and man’s best friend, and ask ourselves some hard questions.

What are you looking for in a pet partner?

Do you fancy yourself the fit and active sort, looking for a hiking and jogging partner? Or do you prefer to spend your evenings curled up on the couch with a good book? The age, size and personality of your next pet should blend in well with your lifestyle. Start by looking around at breeds of dog that seem popular in your circle and ask if they are a good fit for you. Do your research, asking dog-savvy friends that might make a recommendation based on what they know about you.

Some of us are better suited to high-maintenance or low-maintenance companions and that’s where grooming plays a big role. Are you committed to daily brushing or cleaning, or are you a wash-and-go sort of person?

Dealbreaker: It’s time to be very realistic with yourself about what you can realistically do with a dog. Don’t bring a dog into your life expecting them to change your habits.

Does age matter?

In pet-human relationships it does. While puppies are “cute”, their training and exercise needs are much higher. Alternatively, adult and senior pets are less destructive, noisy, and rowdy. Training plays a big role, no matter the age, but ask yourself if your dream date is jogging to the dog park or if you’d prefer a quiet meal on a dog-friendly patio.

What will your friends and family think of your dog?

Once you’ve narrowed your search based on activity level and lifestyle, factor in your surroundings. If you have small children, avoid dogs that are delicate or that might be so large as to knock a child down. Apartment dwellers do well with very large (less active) dogs and small dogs, but may not be good for high-energy mid-sized pups.

Matchmaker, matchmaker...

Going to a shelter or adoptable pet webpage is a bit like speed-dating. You’ll see dozens of pets, one cuter than the next, but it can be hard to get to know the pet in a short time. Don’t be afraid to ask your local shelter or rescue group to make a recommendation for you. In fact, some rescue groups only make arranged adoptions, asking you to complete a questionnaire to help you be paired up with a dog that is compatible to your personality, needs, and lifestyle. Think of it like an online dating profile: tell them your likes and dislikes and let them set you up on a blind date.

In some cases, a rescue or foster parent will have insight to share on the quirks, personality and traits of a particular dog. Feel free to ask:

  • "What makes the dog happy, scared, or excited?" to get a sense of his personality.
  • How did the dog find himself up for adoption?
  • How well trained is he, particularly when it comes to housebreaking or crate training?
  • Does he have any special behavioral or medical needs?

Many rescues offer “foster to adopt” arrangements--sort of like shacking up before the wedding. Get to know each other before the commitment is finalized. If it doesn’t feel right, there’s no harm in calling it off.

Everyone has a past

While you can certainly go the breeder route, don’t pass on the shelter pet option because you’re worried about “baggage.” Dogs, unlike people, are quite willing to live in the moment.

Don’t rush into anything when it comes to adoption. It’s a life-long commitment, lasting potentially 15 to 20 years. And, like any relationship, it takes patience and communication by all parties. But don’t let a fear of commitment stop you from entering into one of the most rewarding times in your life.


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