Online dating has gone mainstream. I’ve dabbled—at one point I would have even said “successfully”— but that is neither here nor there. At this point we all know the gist, even if you haven’t personally taken the plunge. You post a few photos, try your best to encompass your awesomeness into three paragraphs or less, and hope that a Ryan Reynolds look-alike who is new to town nudges, winks, or pokes you. I prefer the poke, personally. Perhaps that’s an overshare.
So when I decided (before my trip) that I wanted to adopt a dog while volunteering at Lanta Animal Welfare, I did what came naturally—hopped online to check out the “available dogs” section of the website. There I found photos and bios for approximately 40 dogs, all looking for permanent homes. There were instant front-runners based solely on looks. Now isn’t that always the case? Sure, Booper eats cats and his own feces and was once a trained fighting dog… but look at that silky coat and well-built physique. Soon my mind wandered to Booper and I frolicking hand-in-leash on the beach, sharing my apartment in San Francisco, and spending every day together for the next 10-15 years. The territory felt uncomfortably familiar, but I wasn’t deterred.
It is important to note that unlike online dating, the dogs here at Lanta Animal Welfare don’t get the luxury of posting 16 profile photos that display their love of the beach, desire to travel internationally, how great they are with kids (er, puppies), or an instagramed close-up of their beautiful gold eyes. No, they get one photo. Sometimes it’s good, often decent, and occasionally terrible to the tune of a chupacabra. When it comes down to it, the dogs here are the exact opposite of 99% of online dating profiles—they’re way better in person.
Which brings me to how I selected the newest love of my life, LADY. For those of you who have met or read about Sinco, my initial attraction to Lady was obvious. I had seen her profile online, but just like when you come across someone that looks just like your ex , it felt strange to picture her as my dog. With the exception of a small mokawk on the back of her neck (thought to be a sign of good luck in Thailand), her anatomy, and something known as a “tail,” she is Sinco’s doppelganger. There were dozens of other dogs to choose from, in various sizes and colors, and no reason to try to repeat the past. However, the more time I spent with Lady (who’s original name was “Princess,” ugh) the harder it was to deny that she was meant to be my dog. While it took me a few days to accept the fact that her mannerisms would be different than Sinco’s, once I did, I quickly embraced her unique sweetness (she gives cheek kisses to kids during tours), intelligence, and quirks (she has a fascination with the kitchen and makes a run for it at least three times a day). We have a lot of training to do and will have to get used to a new lifestyle together, but hey, isn’t that a typical outlook after three or so successful dates? At least she doesn’t eat feces or chase cats. Starting strong right there.
If I have learned anything from this experience, it is that while encountering a potential partner (whether it be a man or a pet) online is a decent way to make a quick first impression, in-person chemistry will ultimately determine the success of the relationship. As is also the case with dating screen names (SF_Lover_Boy… no thank you), Lady’s official name doesn’t matter much (Princess, Lady, Rady, Lady Luck, Lady Boy, Lady in Red, Princess Long Beach Lady Boy…) as all that matters now is that I get to call her “mine.”