Love Me, Love My Pet

Dating sites for animal lovers seeking the PURRfect partner.

By Rona Cherry

 

Miles, a 48-year-old real estate developer, and Trina, his 45-year-old wife, were just embarking on a new marriage and a long, happy life together—or so they thought. But when they got home to their Fifth Avenue apartment from a romantic wedding trip to Europe, they found that the honeymoon was truly over.

Night after night, Trina’s two cats (who’d just moved in from Trina’s old place) would climb into the sack with them for their own 40 winks. “She didn’t mind if the cats slept on the bed, and I couldn’t stand it,” Miles says. Heated arguments ensued. Finally, to save her fledgling marriage, Trina gave the cats away, but this left her so heartbroken that the marriage broke up anyway three months later. Trina says she may never be able to forgive Miles for pressuring her into what she did. “Those cats were my heart,” she says.

Trina and Miles could have avoided their breakup if they’d known each other’s feelings about animals before their very first date. (They might not have gone on it.) Let’s face it: Animal lovers are a different breed. They are willing to pay well to ensure that their pet has a great life. Based on new data from the American Pet Products Association (APPA) overall spending on pets is expected to increase by 5.1 percent and exceed $50 billion this year. Owners embrace their pets with everything from monogrammed sweaters and personalized food and water bowls to gifts on special occasions. The National Retail Federation estimated that more than 18 percent of American consumers would buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets this year. A 2002 Gallup survey found that majority of American pet-owners would not be willing to trade their dog or cat for $1 million. Almost a decade later, and in a tough economy, odds are they still would turn down the cash. Cheryl Renn, a New York nurse, said: “I wouldn’t even take a million dollars for my 21-year old cat, who is pissing all over the house.”

Because of countless sad stories like Miles and Trina’s, a host of dating sites have sprung up in recent years for single pet-owners committed to their animals. The founder of DateMyPet.com, Robert Yau, has written that after speaking with singles he was surprised to find out how many dates and relationships ended because the other person was not compatible with their love for their pets. “These range from ‘She hated my dog’s drooling’ to the classic ‘He thinks I’m crazy because I treat them like babies’,” he said. Sheryl Matthys, founder of LeashesandLovers.com, a site “where dog lovers meet,” says that “when you talk about your dog, it reveals a lot about you. Those first conversations usually include how your pet fits into your life. And in most cases, if you don’t like someone’s dog, there usually isn’t a second date.”

A number of dating web sites have been launched on the premise that pet owners share a special sensibility that they seek in a partner. At AnimalPeople.com, one member wrote that when she joined the site she had searched for men in their 50s and received numerous replies. “But one shined through.” He was a veterinarian. “We had an immediate connection. We exchanged pictures and a lot of email for a couple of months. He finally asked if he could meet me in person,” she wrote. As it turned out, he was looking for a woman who liked animals and wanted a “forever” relationship. The couple is now happily married and live with their dogs, horses, and goats.

Another woman, “Allie” (her screen name), joined EquestrianSingles.com “with a broken heart and no expectations.” She e-chatted with a number of men who owned or showed horses, but knew she wanted to be with someone who rode every day. Then she connected with a “good-looking and sweet” rancher/trainer. “I liked him from the start, until I saw where he lived—in Australia,” Allie wrote. “I emailed him thinking maybe we could swap training tips or he would just be someone I could talk horses with. Well, let me tell you from the first moment he called me ‘darlin’ I knew he was the one. We have been talking for four months now and I am moving to Australia.”

If you’re interested in finding a kindred, animal-loving spirit, or if you’re like Trina—and would like to steer clear of a relationship with your own version of Miles—here are some popular sites:

PURRsonals.com. This site can help you meet someone who assumes the cats WILL be on the bed; who sees nothing odd in buying furniture in fur-hiding colors; or who’ll gladly volunteer to help you bathe Sylvester or keep Elvira from bolting while you’re popping that pill down her throat. Members get to chat about their cats, view videos, get the latest news about felines and “meet other cat lovers who really match your PURRsonality.” Another plus: it’s free. The company says it has a “growing” number of members, but wanted to keep the information private.

Leashesandlovers.com. If you already enjoy canine companionship, but would like to find a human love, this New York site could be for you. Mixers, dog-friendly cocktail parties, and online chats with other members are some membership benefits. This site also helps connect dog-lovers and provide them with a sense of community where they can compare notes about their four-legged friends, set up doggie play dates, and get involved in animal charity events. Membership is $9.97 a month or one year at a discounted $59.88. About 3,500 dog lovers are club members, and 10,000 receive its e-newsletter. Dues support animal charity.

Animalpeople.com. The motto of this international personals service for animal lovers is, “Pets bring people closer.” You can join for a free three-day trial; then you must sign up for membership through its partner, Match.com. Fees run from $34.99 for one month to $16.99 per month with a six-month subscription. “Thousands” join temporarily for the free trial, but about 500 actually sign up through the site each year, company officials say. In addition, there are “hundreds of thousands of animal lovers” who are already part of Match.com, and this gives subscribers an even better opportunity to meet other animal lovers, they add.

DateMyPet.com. Looking for a life partner, a buddy for your pet, or just a pet-loving friend? All are possible with this site. You can post your profile and photo, as well as your pet’s, and read advice columns such as “Yappily Ever After.” Registration and browsing are free. A paid membership of $14.95 for one month or $29.95 for three months allows you (or your pet) to contact or chat with other members.

EquestrianSingles.com. This dating site caters to singles with a passion for horses—and includes information about singles events, expos, and best areas to ride. Singles can create a photo profile, connect in the chat rooms, and maybe even find the romance of a lifetime. A one-month membership $24.95, but check out the site’s message board for “premium packages,” which knock down the monthly rate for longer sign-ups. The site serves “more than 100,000 users in 20 countries.”

Horseloversconnection.com. Another place for the equine set to find romantic trail partners. Personal profiles on this site include information about the horseperson’s riding style and riding type. A standard 31-day “try-out” membership is $15, while the 540-day (18 months) membership is $65.

MustLovePets.com. Members get to read and respond to personals, post photos, or talk with other pet lovers in the chat room. Basic membership, during which you can create a profile and post pictures of you and your pet, is free. If you want to contact someone who interests you, sign up for a premium membership, which costs a one-time fee of $44.95.

The bottom line: Knowing that someone is as passionate about pets as you are could make the road to romance (or friendship) a lot smoother. “People are tired of going on great dates and then finding out the person doesn’t like animals,” says Stephanie Keys, a Long Islander who lives with several cats. “‘Love me, love my pet’ is my motto. After all, potential partners have to accept the fact that your pets were in your heart first.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Wondering what people say when they sign up with a pet dating site? Here, some comments from new members looking for love on PURRsonals.com:
“Could you be my Purrfect mate, because I’m Feline lonely. Don’t paws for thought, I want someone to whisker me off my feet! Bye for Meow!”
“I am a dog person seeking the companionship of a cat person because people like Tyra Banks and the authors of the self-help books I’ve been reading told me that opposites attract.”
“Looking for friends to share the love for animals and nature and (the) spiritual, running after butterflies, following rainbows.”
“I absolutely love cats. I only am interested if you have more cats then I do….I have 12, do you have 13?”
. . . . . . . . . . . .

Rona Cherry has written about health and wellness for The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Ladies’ Home Journal, Vegetarian Times, and many other publications. She was the editor-in-chief of several national magazines, including Fitness and Longevity. She is currently an editorial and PR consultant with regional publications and nonprofits.

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