No one is ever going to tell you that dating is easy. In fact, I think most people would tell you that the first date is even worse than a job interview. However, like a job interview, it’s something that you have to go through if you expect to have any hope of getting to the next level.
I expect that this post is likely going to require me to reveal a fair bit about myself, but what the heck, I do it all for dogs, right? So, let me start off by saying that right now, my dating life can be summed up in one word – nonexistent. Deader than the proverbial door nail. Of course some of that is by choice – I’ve had friends try to “fix me up,” but right now, I’m kind of enjoying being “off the menu.” I like my quiet times with Janice and Leroy, and I’m probably also a little too set in my ways to feel much like adjusting my routine, my habits – and yes, the way I live with my dogs – or to feel much like working on a relationship right now. My sister, Colleen, keeps harping on little cousins for Owen, but she’s just going to have to wait. Realistically, she might have to wait forever.
Now, let’s talk about dating dog people.
Here’s the thing – dog people have very little difficulty dating other dog people. They already have something in common – their dogs! So, if you’re a regular reader, you are a dog person, and you know how it goes. You have still have anxieties about that first date, but it’s not along the lines of “What if he hates the movie I’ve picked,” or “I wonder if this outfit is too slutty,” or “I really hope I don’t come back from the washroom with toilet paper stuck to my shoe.”
No, your anxieties are probably more like “Will he like mydog?” and “Will my dog like him?” Then, of course, there’s “If she comes back to my apartment, will she think I’m nuts because I have all these pictures of my dog all over the place? I mean, I know she’s a dog person, but will she think I’m, like, a crazy dog person?” And the ultimate date anxiety question when dog person dates dog person is, of course, “If we progress to a second date, and a third, and it looks like this could end up being an actual relationship, what if our dogs don’t like each other?”
Take it easy. You’re dating another dog person. You already know that this person likes dogs, and will probably like your dog. He or she probably also has a lot of pictures of their dog on display at their place, and won’t likely flag you as being irredeemably nuts. And as to the “relationship,” if this is your first date, then please, please, just slow down! And besides, most of the time, dogs get along with one another. If you both have intact males or unspayed bitches, though, it might take a bit of work. Just cross that bridge when you come to it, okay?
Now, I’m going to take a leap here and assume that you’re not a regular reader. Otherwise, why would you be wondering what you have to know to date a dog person? But you know what? Good for you! You obviously care enough about the person you want to date that you also want to understand what it takes to be with a dog person. Perhaps you love dogs, but you just don’t have one right now. If that’s the case, then the battle is already about half won.
On the other hand, if you don’t like dogs, why are you even thinking about dating a dog person? Trust me, it’s not going to work, so you can just bail out of this post right now and go back to playing Minecraft. Oh, and cancel the date, because you’re dead in the water, my friend.
If you just don’t know much about dogs because you haven’t been exposed to them all that much, there’s still hope for you, and you can keep reading. The person you’re dating will be happy to fill you in, and introduce you to his or her dog. What happens after that is going to be largely up to you, so with that in mind, let’s dive into the 9 things you need to know about dating a dog person.
Okay. This is going to be a learning process for you if you’re not already totally enraptured by dogs. If you want your dates to go well, here are the 9 things you need to know.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (yes, he is the guy they named the dog breed after) said it best: “Who loves me must also love my dog.” It’s not negotiable.
I remember a date, back in the day when I still had Gloria (the dog who inspired in me a love of all things Boxer that led to my adopting Janice and Leroy). This person was pretty good dating material – steady job, good manners, well-educated, and able to converse intelligently on any number of topics. The problem? Gloria hated my date, and my date made no effort – I mean, absolutely zero effort – to bring her around. Now, if it had been me, and I really wanted to impress someone whose dog didn’t seem to like me all that much, I’d have pulled out all the stops, with treats, and toys, and baby talk. I’d probably even have stuck my hands in ground meat and let his dog lick it off if I thought that it would mean I could be friends with the dog. With this person, though, it was zip. Zilch. Nada. No. Effort. At. All. In the end, I decided that this was No. Relationship. At. All.
So, why wouldn’t I want to be bothered with someone who would have been perfect for a non-dog person? Because I am a dog person. And it was a deal breaker. If you don’t care about what your date’s dog thinks of you, then you don’t care about your date. So just end it and go home. Love me, love my dog. It’s a no-brainer.
See above. The reality is that, at least early on, we are going to favor our dogs over you. Even later on, that might not change. In the early stages, though, for sure, you are going to take second place. And if you can’t deal with that, we are likely to dump you. As I said to Debbie down at the dog park when she asked me how things were going with my new romantic interest, “Sometimes things don’t work out. I can always get another date. Plenty of fish in the sea, and all that. It’s harder to find a really good dog.”
So, we’ve done dinner, and a movie, and now you want to go out for a nightcap. But here’s the thing – my dog has been left alone for the last four hours, and it’s time for a walk, or at least a potty break. Don’t take it personally – I’ve enjoyed your company, and I really hope that we can do this again soon, but I have responsibilities. If I really, really like you, though, and you seem like a “dog person,” I might invite you to come along when my dog and I do our tour of the neighborhood. If I don’t, I’m still evaluating where this might go.
Okay, you with your 401(k) and your investments, and your savings account and so on and so forth, here’s the thing. I spend money on my dogs. I spent probably the equivalent of a car purchase having chain link fencing installed so that Janice and Leroy could have a huge back yard to run around in. And yes, I did buy them custom leather collars. And yes, I do throw away furniture regularly because I want them to be comfortable – there’s no such thing as “You sleep on your mat on the floor” in my house.
Here’s the thing – that’s my way of living. I spoil my dogs rotten. Not in the sense that they’re not properly trained, but in that they’re allowed the run of the house. If that bothers you, then you don’t need to be in my house. And you also have no right to tell me that I’m wasting money. Unless we’re married or in a committed, live-in relationship, you have absolutely no say on where my money goes. If it goes to spoil my dogs, that’s my business, not yours. And if you question how I spend money on my dogs, the chances of us ever being in a position where you actually do have any sort of right to tell me what I should and should not do with my moneyare slim to none.
Can you hold his leash? No. No, you can’t. Not until we’ve been dating for a long, long time. It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s just that – well, yes, it’s that I don’t trust you. Holding the end of the leash is how I keep my dog safe, and right now, we haven’t known each other for long enough that I’ll feel okay turning him over to you. Maybe later.
Can you babysit my dog? No. I’m not comfortable leaving him with you at this stage. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings. You seem like a nice person, and probably no harm will come to my dog while he’s in your care, but no. Not just yet. I’m sure that this will offend you, but if you want to date me, you’re just going to have to live with it.
You know that horrible, irritating, patronizing voice people use when talking to toddlers? I hate it. I mean, can’t people just speak to their kids in a normal tone of voice? And why do they do it in the third person, like “Mommy wants you to come over here,” or “Come with Mommy,” or “Mommy wants you to use the toilet like a big girl instead of dumping in your pants”? I hate it. But I use that same horrible tone with my dogs. “Who’s the bestest little boy? Hmmmm? Who’s the bestest boy? HIM is bestest boy, isn’t him? Isn’t him just the most perfectest little boy? Him want treats? Oh, him does! Then him can HAVE treats cuz him bestest little boy!”
I will do this. And you will have to live with it.
Okay, now assuming that we’ve actually gotten beyond dating, and we’ve moved in together (which is something that I am very unlikely ever to do, but over the course of my life I have learned to never say “never”), I will probably yell out, “I’m home” just to let you know that I have arrived, and then I will take it down a notch with, “Where’s my bestest boy! Where’s my good little man? Oh, there him is! There’s my man! There’s my little doodums! Him is so glad to see me, isn’t him?”
Again, suck it up. You’re not going to change me, so don’t even try.
This is the biggie. The one question you should never ask. Because if you do, and the person you’re dating is honest, you are going to get this answer: “My dog.”
The question is, of course, “Who do you love more? Me or your dog?”
One of my longest-lasting relationships actually rested on the answer to this question. My partner posed it first, and I answered honestly with, “My dog.” Then I tossed the question back. My partner thought for a moment, and then said, “My dog.” At that moment, I think I loved that person more than I ever had before. It seemed as though we were soulmates – two people who loved their dogs more than they could ever love a human.
Ultimately, we broke up. Why? Not because either of us loved our dogs more than we loved each other. Just because we realized that we didn’t love each other enough to make a relationship work. Hey, sometimes stuff happens.
I was happy with the answer I got. I wanted to be with someone who loved their dog to distraction, even more than they loved me, and I was fortunate at the time to have found someone who felt the same way.
But here’s the thing – if you don’t want the answer, then for God’s sake, don’t ask the question. If you want to be the be-all and the end-all for someone, you probably won’t get that with a dog person. I think this is one scenario where “don’t ask and don’t tell” makes a lot of sense. It takes a very secure person to take second place to a dog, and those types of people are few and far between.
You are not likely ever to be number one in a dog person’s life. And if you’re not a dog person yourself, you’re going to have to work really, really hard to have any place at all.
So, that’s how it is. Dating a dog person isn’t going to be easy, unless you’re another dog person. If you’re not a dog person, then I have to tell you unequivocally that it’s never going to work. If you’re a person who likes dogs but doesn’t have one, there is hope for the relationship. But one thing that you are always going to have to understand is that if you are dealing with a real dog person (like me), then you will probably always, always be in second place.
I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. If you’re dating a dog person, then you know that this is someone who knows how to love unconditionally, deeply and completely, and from my perspective, that’s exactly the kind of person you want in your life. So allow them their eccentricities. Embrace their loving nature. And get to know their dog.