“I love long walks on the beach, the feel of the wind in my hair, and cuddling by a cozy fireplace.”
“Rock star type, young and lean with long, flowing hair, seeks mate for nature hikes and romps by the seaside.”
These personal ads could be seen on any online dating site, but the ones seeking partners nowadays often aren’t humans, but dogs. Thanks to the proliferation of matchmaking sites such as Petfinder.com and Adoptapet.com, it’s easier than ever to search for a canine companion, right from the comfort of home.
Just as with human personal ads, you’ve got to read between the lines. “Would love to be your one and only companion” might well be less a pledge of undying devotion than a hint that a dog doesn’t get along well with others. “Needs an experienced owner” is more straightforward, but could indicate anything from the dog being a wild, rowdy adolescent to a dog who’s got serious aggression issues.
It’s fine that some ads soften language in order to garner interest, but once you’ve made contact, you’ve got to become an investigator. The more specific your questions, the better. For example, asking, “Does Rocky get along well with other dogs?” is a good start. But it may be that Rocky is being fostered after having spent time in the shelter, and although he gets along with the dogs in the foster home—both of whom happen to be female—it’s not known whether he gets along with males.
When adopting an adolescent or adult dog, it’s not realistic to expect the dog to be completely free of bad habits or behavior issues, but you should be able to weed out the major ones. Be realistic, and decide beforehand on the intensity of behavior issues you’re willing to accept. Some people have no problem taking on fear or aggression issues that will take months to fix (trainers, you know who you are!). Others absolutely do not want to deal with any major issues, although minor ones are acceptable. Once you’ve decided, don’t be swayed by a pretty face. Just as with people, it’s all about what’s inside.