Finding that special someone to spend your life with can be a drag. Everyone’s telling you what worked for them while making wild guess about what might work for you. You might be thinking that no one can really compete with your last love, or shivering through flashbacks of a mismatched relationship gone wrong. Then there are those f*cking Sarah McLachlan commercials which add guilt into the equation.
Obviously, we’re talking about dog adoption. How do you make sure you bring the right dog home?
In today’s increasingly pet-friendly world, people are doing their best to find the right pet for their families — putting in research and using technology to aid the process. A surge in the pet industry has seen more people looking at pets as family members as opposed to property. But even the most well-intentioned of prospective pet owners, can end up choosing an animal that doesn’t mesh well with the family. While basic breed traits can absolutely be useful, they don’t always tell the full story of the individual animal. Add to that the fact that a large percentage of the animals in shelters and rescues aren’t a specific breed at all, and the likelihood of choosing the perfect new canine family member starts to feel a lot like a roll of the dice.
Enter PawsLikeMe, the Match.com of your pet search. Founded by Elizabeth Holmes and Marianna Benko — whose backgrounds in tech, dog rescue, and animal behavior serve them well — the site works by recognizing that “dogs and other animals are individuals just like people,” says Elizabeth, and that “the individual personalities of humans and canines are the biggest influence in establishing successful long-lasting relationships.”
HOW IT WORKS: Once you’re on the site, take a five minute Pet Compatibility Quiz, answering questions like, “Which describes you best? Rule oriented or tolerant?” and, “My friends would describe me as someone who exercises often. Agree or disagree?” The questions are easy to answer and kind of fun; it’s a little like an abbreviated, fur-covered version of the Myers and Briggs, with the huge bonus/incentive of dog pictures at the end.
The answers to your questions create a “pet matching score” for you by combining four core personality quadrants for canines and humans: energy, confidence, focus, and independence. If this is starting to make you sweat (why do I always lie to computers on quizzes that ask if I prefer parties to staying home alone? DON’T JUDGE ME, COMPUTER! I HAVE A RICH INTERIOR LIFE!), don’t worry. You’re not making a personality profile of you, but of you-as-a-dog-owner. The questions are geared toward seeing how you interact with your pet, because who you are as a dog owner doesn’t always parallel you in other aspects of your life. A self-described social butterfly doesn’t necessarily mesh well with a dog that is the same; she might prefer a pet with a higher degree of independence because she’ll be out more often. A dedicated marathoner might not want a canine running partner — what if he wants to come home to a couch potato?
The scores have weights applied that are based on environmental and special factors, and the results you receive are filtered through your specific needs, so if you need a cat-friendly dog, you won’t be tortured by photos of adorable dogs that would rather see kitty sleeping with the fishes. In other words, the dogs went through their own set of compatibility questions, to see what types of people would match up the best with them. After a long day of chewing on a Nylabone and monitoring the backyard for squirrel infiltrators, do they want someone to meet them at the door with a leash and a Frisbee, or a bowl of kibble and the promise of a cuddly night in?
Being that dogs don’t have opposable thumbs and lack reliable transportation, it’s up to you, after looking through the pictures and profiles of your matches, to message them (or uhh, the rescue/owner/foster) and set up the first “date,” to see if the chemistry is really there and if you might have something. You know, like these two clearly have.
Says Marianna Benko, “our matching system is all about supporting positive outcomes, so that people and pets find each other and live happier lives together. The feeling of finding the right canine companion when you are a first-time adopter can be a life-changing experience. The result… unconditional love!”
It makes sense. Anyone who’s been single and tried online dating knows that the reasons the relationships work (or don’t) boil down to compatibility. Is this someone you could spend your life with? Do you share interests and ideals, or are you basically two strangers sharing a house? Do you have habits that drive each other crazy, or are they just quirks that you see as endearing?
Not everyone is compatible with everyone, and that’s true of non-romantic relationships, too. When you’re bringing a dog home, in the end, you’re still looking for a satisfying relationship that makes both of you happy.
It’s also worth noting that PawsLikeMe recognizes that it can be a really difficult decision to re-home a beloved pet; in fact, the site was built with this in mind. Having spent eight years running a dog rescue, Holmes discovered that 30 percent of the dog owners looking to re-home were willing to foster their own dogs while the rescue staff worked on finding the right family. That’s why PawsLikeMe encourages and supports owners making this decision to post their pet, build a profile, and take an active role in deciding on the adoptive home. There’s no worry or what-ifs involved, and once the new adoptive family is approved, up to half of the adoption fee goes toward non-profit rescues or shelters — which means even more dogs will be rescued.
And finally, cat lovers, you haven’t been forgotten. PawsLikeMe is currently developing an algorithm for cats too.
Did we troll Instagram for cute puppy pictures? You’d better believe it!
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