Barberton resident Debbie Wallet Smallwood, pictured with her basset hounds Lola and Journey Girl, back up a recent study about how dog ownership can impact your love life.
Herald Staff Writer
It’s hard to admit, but if you’re a dog owner, look deep inside your heart and ask yourself: Is it possible you love your canine more than your crush?
According to a survey commissioned by dog food company Ollie, 42 percent of those who are in a relationship or married say they love their dog the most, compared to 31 percent for their partner.
For those who are dating, 90 percent say it’s “very important” to date someone who also loves their dog. All but 4 percent of those asked wouldn’t go on a date with someone who doesn’t like dogs.
Barberton resident and BHS graduate Debbie Wallet Smallwood can definitely relate. She has two basset hounds, Lola and Journey Girl, gregarious dogs who love everyone they meet. That wasn’t reciprocated by a guy she dated about a year ago. “He didn’t like my dogs. I could tell when he came over there was an issue. I have never seen him since.”
The survey also found 34 percent of singles have used their dogs to try to meet someone. Smallwood admitted, “When I got Journey as a puppy, I took her everywhere with me.” She laughed. “I got a lot of attention, but it was female attention, so it didn’t work.”
When taking her dogs to the veterinarian’s office or doggie daycare, she keeps her options open. Her philosophy? “If I see someone who has a dog, and the dog is well taken care of, you know they have priorities. If they’re taking good care of their dog, they’re taking good care of themselves.”
Profile pictures on dating apps provide clues to someone’s views on furry friends. The survey found that 70 percent of singles say it’s a “turn-on” when someone’s dating profile has a photo of a dog. Smallwood agrees. “If I see that they have a dog, then I think, this will work.”
Fitting her dogs inside a relationship is a challenge, she said. “When you own a pet and you’re trying to date someone and they don’t have a pet, it’s very hard to go somewhere. It’s very expensive to board a dog. If they want to take a long weekend, I can’t. I have my dog.” However, if a date has their own dog, “We can buddy up with all our dogs and go somewhere.”
If you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day date, the numbers are challenging: 33 percent of men and 19 percent of women would rather spend Valentine’s Day with their dog than on a date.
The survey also found that 49 percent love their dog the most, and 51 percent say their dog is the best listener in their life. “My kids all testify to it,” said Smallwood. “They say, ‘You love the dogs more than us!’ I like to tell them my dogs don’t mouth off, my dogs don’t talk back, my dogs listen.”
The Ollie Dogs and Love Survey was conducted during the months of October and November, 2018. Nearly 400 respondents who own dogs were surveyed. Ollie is a national service that delivers freshly cooked, human-grade food tailored to each dog’s nutritional needs.