Canine Connection: Online Match-Making ... for Pets

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In ten short minutes, Ollie changed my opinion of online matchmaking forever. If anyone asked me six months ago, I would have said that finding a true love through the Internet is as risky as buying a pair of jeans on the Web. It rarely fits exactly right, no matter how perfect the description or promising it may seem.

From 2001–2003, the chance of meeting a real, live, in-the-flesh being that held my interest for more than thirty seconds was one of the only reasons why I got out of bed in the morning. I doubt I was alone. Chemistry, and the great hope of it, has kept bartenders and lip-gloss salesmen in business, and forced people out of their hermit shells for years and years. But who knows for how much longer? Free time is getting scarcer, hours spent online longer, and the chances of a random meeting with a life-changing buddy are as slim as Nicole Richie. For so many of our interpersonal needs, we turn to the least intimate of all of our possessions: The computer.

At this point, I should say that Ollie is a dog…literally. He’s a two-year-old 25-pound shaggy Wheaten terrier mix, with a dash of poodle and a hundred-pound personality. And yes, I found him online. After months spent sifting through doggie photos and profiles on, an online resource of dogs and cats available for rescue from a network of animal shelters and humane societies across the country, I came across Ollie’s profile. While reading it, I had the same weird moment that I had when I saw my husband for the first time. It felt a lot like recognition, even though I hadn’t set eyes on either creature before. Then I read his doggie bio. As anyone who’s ever skimmed the personals or scanned through lists of postings on singles sites knows, the hard facts of an online profile are rarely hard or even factual. Apparently, exaggerating height and one’s own scorching wit is not a breach of ethics for most people. Weight? Why not round it down a notch? In the case of pets, age, fondness for children or other pets and energy level seem to be the categories that are subject to loose interpretation. “A spunky guy who needs lots of love and a patient family” could very well translate to “neurotic carpet shredder who will terrorize the neighbor’s cat and bury your car keys.”

The words that caught my attention were, “Life of the party. If there were a dog cocktail party and Ollie was there, everybody else would want to talk to him.” Who wouldn’t be attracted to that? Sure, that may mean an extra-long walk in the morning, but it seemed worth it to find a guy who greeted me with the same exuberantly wagging tail every day. I clicked past some perky collies, an adorable undersized yellow lab, and other lovable mutts within a ten-mile radius of our house, but none with Ollie’s undeniable charm—so undeniable that it made it through my DSL cable and a wireless transmission without being diluted one bit. The true test was to meet him in person.

One Saturday, after a couple of confusing highways and wrong turns, we made it to Ollie’s foster home. The gate opened, he burst through it, circled our feet, dropped to his back with his feet in the air (the perfect position for a vigorous belly rub) and I fell in love. His fur was sticky and rough from malnutrition and he had a shaved spot on his hindquarters where he had scratched himself bald from the stress of being on the street. But even after a month spent at the vet to straighten out his medical woes, he was as full of love as any creature I’d ever met. Who wouldn’t recognize that potential?

Now, six months later, Ollie’s as soft as a lamb and just as devoted. How he ever became a stray is a story I’d rather not contemplate. Every day, someone stops me to pet Ollie. “Where did you get him? What kind of dog is he?” they ask. And I say I met him online, he was my Internet matchmaking success story and, sorry folks, he’s one of a kind.


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