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Dogs And Dating


What happens when a man starts dating a woman with a somewhat possessive canine? Find out here.

By Alan Goldsher

couple of years ago, a well-meaning coworker set me up on a blind date with his wife’s friend, Christine. Christine and I clicked almost immediately—it was like at first sight. Not love. Like. From a physical perspective, things progressed at what could be considered a normal pace: First date, peck on the cheek. Second date, a
She couldn’t go out on a work night without finding a dog-sitter.
short good-night kiss. Third date, a long good-night kiss. Fourth date, she invites me upstairs.

So we get inside Christine’s apartment and are met by Sydney, her hyper Airedale/Collie mix who takes an immediate liking to my calf. While Christine does her I-just-got-home stuff, I give the pooch a couple cursory scratches behind her ears, head into the living room and park myself on the couch. Sydney, meanwhile, tootles off to find her mommy. After a few minutes, Christine — who had changed into a comfy, if somewhat provocative outfit — saunters into the room, Sydney nipping at her ankles.

Christine plops down next to me. Sydney plops down next to Christine. Christine leans in to kiss me. Sydney leans in to… I don’t know what. Christine kisses my neck. Sydney kisses both of our faces. Christine pulls away, stares angrily at the dog for, like, three seconds, and then breaks into a goofy grin. “Sydney, you’re a bad girl, but I could never stay mad at you!” She eventually shooed the dog away, but the mood was most definitely broken.

I learned after a month of dating Christine that this woman — this intelligent, capable, attractive woman — was psychotically attached to her dog, and vice-versa. She couldn’t go out on a work night without finding a dog-sitter — Sydney, it turned out, would bark non-stop if she was alone for more than 10 hours — and if no sitters were available, she’d bring Sydney along. This was difficult if she came to my apartment, because the dog petrified my cat. After six weeks of tweaking our social schedule to suit the dog’s needs, I bowed out gracefully. I dug Christine, and I dig dogs—I just didn’t dig Christine with her dog.

Shockingly, Christine was willing to speak to me on the record for this article. “First of all,” she said, after I reminded her about the aborted make-out session at her apartment, “you’re exaggerating. That night at my place, Sydney never licked our faces.” (Yes, she sure did.) “All she did was curl up next to me on the couch.” (Yeah, after she licked
A really good boy- or girlfriend will offer to walk and feed his or her partner’s pooch.
our faces.) “Second of all, I didn’t take her with us on all of our dates.” (No, just most of them.) “And third of all, I didn’t like your cat.”

Ouch.

In retrospect, Christine and I never could have worked—her neurotic dog would always be a major priority in her life, and if I were to be her honest-to-goodness boyfriend, I would have had to realize, accept, and embrace that, which, at that point in my life, fair or unfair, I wasn’t prepared to do. But if I was in love with her — not like, but love — and was willing to make it work with her and her pet, I’d have done these three things:

Bonding
“It would have made Sydney so happy if you’d have played with her,” Christine said. “She liked you.” I’m not sure about that—I think the dog was jealous. But what Christine was really saying is that it would have made her happy if I’d have played with Sydney. Unless you’re a pooch-a-phobe, playing with canines is pretty darn fun, so if getting into a tug-of-war match with your girlfriend’s dog pleases both her and the pet, then get tugging. You’ll probably enjoy it.

Caretaking
A really good boy- or girlfriend will offer to walk and feed his or her partner’s pooch. If my playing with Sydney would have made Christine happy, imagine how thrilled she would have been if I took her out for a jog, gave her a bath, and cleaned up her poop.

Studying
There are zillions of excellent books on dogs—and I’m not referring to the children’s book, Walter the Farting Dog. For example, I’d recommend Katz on Dogs: A Commonsense Guide to Training and Living with Dogs by mystery writer and pet-lover Jon Katz. It’s charming and informative and will help you better understand the bond between pet and owner.

The story has a happy ending: Christine is now married to, believe it or not, a guy who has a cat. The foursome — Christine, her husband, Sydney, and the kitty — are currently living in fur-covered bliss.

My own cat, needless to say, is relieved beyond words.


Alan Goldsher is the author of Modest Mouse: A Pretty Good Read.
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