Navigating the dating world is already difficult. And for those with a Service Dog it becomes even more complicated — but don’t be daunted. Here are some helpful tips on dating with a Service Dog.
1. Must Love Dogs.
You probably already know that the only way this is going to work is if you can find someone who loves dogs as much as you do. Although this may seem like common sense it’s worth mentioning right up front. It used to be that online dating was unusual. These days it’s how most people meet, and for those who are disabled and have a Service Dog it can be a blessing and a challenge. While it’s not necessary to openly disclose that you’re disabled or that you have a Service Dog in your dating profile it can be beneficial to at least mention that you are a dog lover and perhaps include a picture of you and your partner in or out of gear. This makes it more likely that someone who likes dogs will send you a message.
As a handler you already know that for better or worse, dogs are an excellent icebreaker — and you can use this to your advantage. Look for someone who mentions that they love dogs or has a picture of themselves with their dog on their profile. Break the ice by asking them questions about their dog (ex. “what is your dog’s name?” or “how long have you had your dog?”, etc.). This is a great way to get the conversation going.
There are even online dating sites dedicated to partnering up pet-friendly people:
- Date My Pet
- You Must Love Dogs Dating (YMLDD)–Click here to see Ellen Degeneres talk about YMLDD.
- Fetch a Date
2. If you are not comfortable, don’t disclose right away.
Like we said above, don’t feel that you have to disclose right away that you are disabled or that you have a Service Dog. If possible, find other things that you have in common with the person. One of the most surprising things you may learn is that people won’t mind that you have a Service Dog, but they may think it means it will restrict or limit them from experiencing or doing certain things. If someone is able to see that you have many interests, hobbies, and talents and are able to do all of them with a Service Dog by your side, this will ease their mind of this concern.
In the case of a friend or family member setting you up, tell them that you would prefer that they not disclose the fact that you have a Service Dog right away, but rather talk about the other things that make you unique and interesting. This way you can tell your potential partner about your Service Dog yourself, when you feel comfortable.
3. Step outside of your comfort zone.
Go to the park, pet festivals, and other locations where there are likely to be other dog lovers around. By placing yourself in these environments, you are more likely to find someone with the same interests as you. Truthfully though, visiting any new place makes it more likely that you will meet new people. Explore somewhere new and see what happens!
4. Avoid showing up on a first date with your Service Dog without telling them.
The person you’re meeting is likely nervous too. Don’t surprise them by showing up with your dog. It’s really just common sense, but don’t catch your date off guard. Also, while you know that fully-trained Service Dogs should be welcome everywhere, you might have an easier first date if you call the restaurant or other venue ahead of time and let them know you’ll be bringina a Service Dog. Ask for a quiet and romantic table off to the side. This way if the location has any concerns you can deal with them before hand and just enjoy your date when the time comes, free of additional worries.
5. Embrace being single.
Always remember that you do not need a partner to define you and that you already have the best companion around, your Service Dog. Go out and enjoy life, volunteer, start a new hobby, etc. If it is meant to be, someone will come around when the time is right. Good luck!