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My Dogs Are Messing with my Groove
Rebecca Wallick with two of her three dogs in her 2007 online dating profile photo.

Confession: I’ve been looking for love online—Match.com, eHarmony—off and on for years. With little success. I’ve made several great friends, dated a few men for short periods, but have failed to find a true partner.

I now realize that my three dogs likely have a lot to do with my on-going singleness. The real question is: Did I create this situation subconsciously-on-purpose? Perhaps. Probably. I love my dog-centered lifestyle.

Many articles about dating bemoan single women’s relationships with their dogs, theorizing that we’re replacing men with our canine companions. After all, what man could possibly be as adoring, forgiving, trustworthy and unconditionally loving as our dogs? No issues regarding toilet seats, either.

Most of us diving into the online dating seas have a list of deal-breakers. Mine include smoking and young kids at home. As I scroll through online profiles, I realize that I also often screen out men who have dogs. Why? I want a dog-loving man; indeed, a lack of affinity for dogs is another of my deal-breakers. But because two of my dogs are aging females, one somewhat reactive to other large female dogs, I’m skipping profiles that show a man smiling beside a large breed dog. If a man has a small dog, I keep reading, but warily. If he has more than one dog, I move on because I can’t imagine trying to combine my three dog household with more than one additional small dog. These are men who in all other respects appear to be good prospects. But if I can’t imagine adding their dogs to my current pack, why bother even making contact? So I don’t.

Then I have an aha moment, putting myself in the men’s shoes: Coming upon my profile with photos of me posing beside two huge wolf-like Malamutes and other photos with my Aussie, they must be thinking….no way! Too many dogs! A dog nut! Deal-breaker!

And they’re right. Dogs—and trail running—are my lifestyle. If a man doesn’t like at least one or the other, we won’t be spending much time together. He doesn’t have to be a runner, but he does have to love dogs, my dogs in particular. With three dogs, my ability to travel, even get away for a weekend or an overnight, is limited. Many men in my age group (50-65) are retiring and list travel as their top interest. Talk about a lifestyle disconnect.

Like many of the women profiled in those articles about the hazards of dating women with pets, I’m quite happy with my life and lifestyle. The thought of all the disruption and compromise required to incorporate someone new is frankly exhausting. Finding the right partner can’t be forced. It needs to happen naturally, with the right person—another dog-nut who accepts my dogs and me (although I’ll continue to hope he’s temporarily dog-less when I meet him).

I’ve decided to save my money; my Match.com subscription has expired. Nor will I try a pet-centric dating site like DateMyPet.com. I hope that the less I try to find the dog-loving partner I desire, the more likely it is I’ll bump into him in some random, casual way. It’s all about timing. Meanwhile, I share my space, time and love with my dogs, who happily reciprocate.

Rebecca Wallick is an attorney and a Bark contributing editor; she and her dogs live in Washington.
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Submitted by Amy | May 24 2012 |

I'm with you on this one! I have four small dogs ranging from 2yrs up to 7yrs old. In addition to my fuzzy kids, I'm very ill. I have been sick for almost three years and I'm on disability at 36. I loved my job and I worked a LOT for 20 years before my Lupus changed everything. My live in boyfriend, that I thought was the one for sure, left me a couple months after I got sick. He didn't want to change his lifestyle. I was very active before I got sick, so we camped, hiked, traveled, played tennis, walked my two dogs every day. This is the longest I have ever been single. I like my dog centric life and have completely given up on finding a boyfriend. I only leave my house to go to doctor's appointments or medical procedures. Because I'm on prednisone I have also gained 90LBS. I have been skinny all my life and never thought I would get fat. I can't imagine any guy out there that would want to be with an overweight sick woman and her 4 dogs!

My dogs help me cope with being sick. They give me a reason to get out of bed! I am so loved by my fuzzy kids. I feel blessed to have them in my life. I also can't have children because of my endometriosis. I have all this love and nurturing that I wanted to give to a baby. Now I have redirected that to my pups. I admit, they are super spoiled now, but they are happy and so am I. I've stopped looking for a relationship. Instead, I enjoy the little family/pack that I love so much.

Thank you for sharing your story :) I have a feeling you will bump into Mr. Right and he will love you and your pack!
Dog Bless You!

Submitted by Anonymous | May 30 2012 |

The only thing I would encourage you to let go of before you give up on the online option or dating men with dogs option is the necessity that you must combine all the dogs under one roof. People can be involved and maintain their separate residences - esp with aging dogs. Who's to say you couldn't hit it off with someone else with dogs, large or small, and limit your dogs connectivity. Dating doesn't always end up with living together dogs or no dogs, so seems like an unnecessary limitation.

Good luck with all of it. Beautiful dogs.

Submitted by Anonymous | May 26 2012 |

You care about what's good for your family!- I see many divorced singles w/ children who haven't given much thought to who they date as you have.

Submitted by Anonymous | May 29 2012 |

Don't jump too far ahead! It's possible to date, maintain separate households, integrate the furry kids slowly..... might be just the thing, frankly, for allowing a relationship to develop slowly, too..... The dogs' issues will work themselves out (one way or another), and it might be stressful... but there's another good test of whether your guy is compatible... how do you two deal with it as a team? You DO want someone who doesn't just look at you and say "what's up with the dogs?".... you want him to be dog savvy.... participating in whatever needs to be done to integrate the pack for potential long-term situation.

I dunno - having dogs might be just the thing for knowing the character of the guys you date!

Just sayin'

Submitted by Anonymous | May 29 2012 |

as a single woman who has 3 older dogs.. i can't agree more... i am not looking for a man however but the person who would be a good fit. I hear and concur with all you have to say it is an interesting situation for sure! you are not alone... and i learned by reading this i am not alone... thanks!

Submitted by Anonymous | May 31 2012 |

As a dog trainer I frequently see ppl meeting @ the dog park & wks or months later I see them there "together." It's usually a pretty great place 2 meet quality humans (after all, they're taking time out 2 mentally & physically enrich their dogs' lives) & more importantly...dog lovers. At the very least u get 2 meet new friends & ur dogs have a blast! :)

Submitted by Anonymous | September 9 2012 |

This is a very honest, insightful and self-reflective post. I am a 35 year old single (no pets, no kids) guy and I am very turned off at the idea of dating a woman with a dog. I like to give women 100% of my love and attention, and when I see a picture of a woman with her dog... I think "Well, she's already in a primary relationship with a canine" and I don't want to "compete" with her dog so I move on and look for a single, easy-to-get-to-know, unattached girl.

Submitted by mateo | December 22 2013 |

Just my opinion, but I often get the sense that the whole "must love dogs" thang, is really less about the animal(s) than it's an indication of someone who may have a conscious or unconscious problem forming close human attachments to begin with. So instead they become addicted to the emotional equivalent of "fast food", aka, creatures who aren't as complicated, independent, demanding, or as risky as humans can be. And after all, isn't the very definition of an addiction, when you become so dependent on something that it interferes with the rest of your life?

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