A few years ago, I said goodbye to my childhood dog. She’d been my faithful companion for the majority of my life, always there when I needed her. It was hard to let go.
At that time, I was living in a rental house with two other girls and no fencing. Even before my dog had passed away, I looked forward to one day having a dog of my own, in my own space, but the time wasn’t right.
Still, I wanted to be around dogs. I let all my friends know that I was up for watching theirs when they went out of town. As I borrowed these dogs, I started noticing a lot of similarities to dating.
When I watched my friend’s Greater Swiss Mountain dog, I realized that I wasn’t interested in getting a puppy. She was a sweetheart, but she chewed on my calf muscles while I cooked and chewed on my shoes when I tried to walk her. I loved her big, expressive eyes and the way she’d let me give her pills when needed. She was cute as anything, but needed to grow up a little.
My friend’s older Husky and I hit it off swimmingly. She was happy to walk with me, or just lay at my feet while I read a book. She let me know when she needed to go out and ate when she was hungry, just the sort of dog I was hoping for.
I don’t always think of dating as an opportunity to put two people together and see how they do, but of course, that’s what it is. I have characteristics that make me who I am, and so does the person I’m going out with.
When I don’t click with a dog, I don’t think any less of the dog, or of me—I just realize it’s not the best fit. Maybe I should inject some of that feeling into the way I date. When things don’t work out, it’s not because I’m too picky or not attractive enough, it’s just that we aren’t the best fit.
I’ve been loving dog-sitting because I have the opportunity to spend time with a dog one on one. I learn what is specific to certain dogs and what is common to many. I learn that it’s possible to love lots of them, all at once.
Before I get my dog (hopefully soon), I’m planning to spend a little time. I want to find out what I can about his or her history as well as just being together to see how we do. I want to talk to people who know my dog to get a sense of how we’ll do together. This is common sense for adopting a dog, and not filled with emotional peril like dating can be. But what if it wasn’t? What if dating was just an opportunity? What if I believed that there were so many wonderful people out there that I might click with, just as I believe that there are so many wonderful dogs out there for me to love?
It just might change the way I look at dating for good.
Cara Strickland writes about food and drink, mental health, faith and being single from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys hot tea, good wine, and deep conversations. She will always want to play with your dog. Connect with her on Twitter @anxiouscook.