The art of flirting may not be dead, but it has changed. Strangers on public transportation don’t talk anymore, let alone swap numbers. Approaching a woman at a bar feels creepier than it did ten years ago. Approaching a woman on the street, even more so. But there is one meet-cute that is impervious to the encroachment of technology on our hearts and our groins, and it involves a dog.
Maybe this is what brought you here, O Googling Maxim Man searching for “girls and pets.” (If you’re just looking for photos, may I remind you of the Google Image tab. Please don’t do anything creepy with them.) Maybe you’re wondering: Is it true that women love things that are adorable and fluffy and occasionally drool? If I acquire a pet, will I acquire a woman? If I foster a dog, will every woman on the street want to foster me? If you know what I mean?
What you’ve heard is true: Many of us like dogs! A lot of men do, too. And even if we don’t, they’re an easy entry point for conversation with a stranger. “Wow, cute dog!” is a much less awkward icebreaker than an observation about the weather or a fumbling attempt at cleverness. I have a friend—we’ll call him Garrett—who has had great luck with loaners. Once a month or so, he dogsits his brother’s “goddamn adorable” one-year-old goldendoodle. “Literally every time I take that pup out for a walk I end up with someone's phone number,” he tells me. It makes sense, really, that man’s best friend is also man’s best wingman.
But you shouldn’t buy a dog if you’re not ready for the commitment—it’s a serious one. Julio Lopez, an LA-based veterinarian, reminds us that there’s a lower-risk option: “If you’re not ready to adopt,” he says, “you can always foster; it’s not a full-time commitment.” Petfinder even has its own fostering section. Be sure to have that site open when the hottie in your office is walking past your desk, and explain to her that you “really want to make a difference in a dog’s life,” but you don’t want to commit until you’re really, truly ready. Good boy.
Or maybe you’ve come here because you know a girl with a pet. Maybe you’re dating her, or you want to be dating her, or you want to be naked inside her apartment and not get kicked out. And you want to know how to act around said pet in a way that will make said lady think you’re a good dude and an acceptable mate.
According to Lopez, there is some basic pet etiquette that everyone should observe. Remember that cats spook easily. Let them come to you, and when they do, extend a hand for them to inspect. They like to be petted around their head and face (same), so start there. Dogs tend to be more comfortable around strangers, but you should still greet them at their level—crouched or seated—and know that they like to be petted along their neck and chest (same). And never reprimand someone else’s pet! You’re likely to overstep a boundary there, and we all know that boundary-crossing is a huge turn-off.
You might have some boundaries of your own, though. Maybe your new gal’s cat, fluffy, likes to sleep in bed with her, and this makes you uncomfortable Maybe you feel creeped out when the dog watches you doing the horizontal limbo. Communication is essential here, Lopez explains. And it’s important to remember that this animal is extremely important to her. “This pet has probably been in their life for a long time before you,” he says, “and they probably have lots of attachments to that pet.” So make it clear that you care about this animal; it means that you care about her, too. Express your own boundaries and listen to hers. Remember that it may take some time for a pet to warm up to you, and vice versa. Also remember that bringing treats never hurts.
Or maybe you just hate pets, but you love the women who own them. It’s a sad fact of life and love that this is, very often, a dealbreaker: she’s more likely to dump you than her beloved Fluffy. Remember that there are plenty of women who don’t own pets and could potentially be interested in having sex with you. Try to find them. Or, I don’t know, get one of those little ferrets that people keep on leashes. They seem like sweet companions, and won’t kick you out of any room.
Still confused? Check out the other installments of You Asked here.