Tinder for Dogs — Finding a Best Friend Requires More Than “Swipe Right”
With online dating commonplace for human singles, is it no wonder that someone is now applying a similar “swipe right” approach to pairing people with Man’s Best Friend.
An East Village Shelter and ad agency recently stirred up quite a bit of attention by using Tinder and Facebook to spur pet adoption. And in Silicon Valley, it’s only fitting that one company has developed an App to search for dogs.
Now my whole mission — my whole professional passion — is to match people with the perfect dog — shelter, purebred, you name it. So while I applaud efforts that might help make selection easier, I am concerned that our society sometimes gets over-reliant on pure technology and math alone to solve problems or totally automate solutions that really do require a very personal touch. Granted, Project Wag’s mission is made much easier by technology and allows us to communicate much more effectively, but there’s no substitute for a high touch, human approach when it comes to any kind of personal matchmaking, whether it’s pairing humans with the perfect pooch or a single person with their soul mate.
When it comes to figuring out what kind of dog to bring into a home, services like Petfinder can be a tool to start the process and maybe develop a pool of ideas. But taking this to a more social media, hot-or-not, swipe right platform when it comes to finding a dog gets me concerned. It’s an over-simplified path to what needs to be a careful selection process. While algorithims can certainly help narrow down a universe of possible candidates (people or dogs), it’s still really key to have an objective, knowledgeable third party step back and analyze the bigger issues at play. When it comes to the people who ask me to help them determine the best dog for them, there are so many factors at play: Is their lifestyle urban? Suburban? What kind of energy level does the would-be owner possess, and what kind of energy level could he or she be looking for in a canine? Does the family have children? Infants? Teenagers?
On the dog’s end, it’s also important to ask the right questions — ones that ‘swiping right’ apps don’t permit: What’s the dog’s behavioral history? If we’re looking at a breeder as a source, what’s that breeder’s track record and philosophy? If the dog in question is at a shelter, what’s the back-story on how that pooch arrived there?
When looking at bringing a dog into a home, you’re looking at establishing a relationship that comes with about a two-decade long commitment. For the same reason that specialized matchmakers are still flourishing (and growing!) against a backdrop of automated dating services, there is still ample need for expertise and guidance when it comes to picking out a pup. At this point, Tinder seems to be hand-picking reputable rescue groups and shelters. However, if this idea — I’m sure which was originally intended out of purely good will — were to expand to a pure tech-platform, I’d be concerned that many dog-seekers don’t realize that all rescues and shelters are not created equal.
Don’t get me wrong— like Petfinder and Adopt a Pet, Tinder-for-dogs has the potential to make a huge impact in the rescue and adoption landscape. However, every pet-seeker should still approach the process with an educated and informed methodology. Do your homework. Rely on the experts. After all, when it comes to human dating, you wouldn’t expect someone to make a long-term commitment decision based off of a first date, right? Same with canine-human connections: perspective, knowledge, experience and a network all come into play.