In the meet-cute fantasy of my dreams, a hot guy approaches me as I'm picnicking in Central Park, reading a book at a coffee shop, or some other Meg Ryan fairy tale activity. And yet, after seven years in New York, this has never happened! Sure, I don't often picnic or read in cafes while looking capital-C Cute, but is it still wrong of me to feel bitter?
Plus, my schedule's been tougher to date around since I got a French bulldog puppy six months ago. Weekends are now filled with multiple walks, trips to the park, vet appointments, languidly browsing on dog shops for 36 hours, etc. And while my weeknights are packed with watching my pup strain to poop, don't I also deserve love? Or maybe I was just secretly hoping that if I build the life I want for myself (read: dog mom), the rest would follow. But so far, no such luck.
I decided to see if the latter had any chance of still becoming true. Could I use my dog to meet men in New York City? Now that I've found true puppy happiness, wouldn't those ~vibes~ help transform me into the sparkling creature I’ve always truly known myself to be? Read on to find out what happened when I tried making my 14-pound bulldog my wingwoman.
I started the experiment naively, almost too naively. I hit up the dog run near my apartment, assuming it'd be full of hot young singletons like myself looking to merge pet families with like-minded individuals. Not the case! Nearly everyone there was with a partner or in a group. There was a group of Whippets with their chic yoga moms who already looked like they knew each other very well, so not only did I remain SINGLE, I also remained INTIMIDATED! Not the best mindset to make a good impression.
My pup was very sociable, though, and even managed to roll around in the dirt so much that I had to bathe her afterwards. More than once, I heard some of the Cool Whippet Girls remarking that my Bao Bao was such a ham, and my heart swelled with pride for my funny bun.
I tried taking Bao Bao on a Hinge date, but she got diarrhea on the way, stepped in it, and then jumped on my leg with fully-liquid-poo stamping my favorite white jeans. Chic! I had to run home and change before meeting the guy, which not only made me late, but also worried that I'd missed a spot on my ankle or something.
We wound up having to go back to my apartment to drop her off, too, because it started raining and my date wanted to get food. Since dogs aren't usually allowed in restaurants in NYC, I had to pop home and get her settled in. Having to show him my apartment at its worst really threw me off.
The rest of dinner was fine, but I couldn't keep my mind from wandering to my tiny soup dumpling of a dog at home. By leaving her while I went out on a date without her, was I breaking the cardinal rule of canine wingmanning? Did she want to be with us? Would she like the guy or hate him? I knew she was probably just sleeping and farting at home, but STILL, I had too many questions to let myself relax completely.
I was halfway relieved when we mutually agreed that there wasn't much chemistry at the end of the night.
In an effort to undo the previous day's lose-lose situation, I scheduled another Hinge date for the afternoon. Bao Bao and I headed to the park first and played fetch, and I had the guy meet me nearby when she was done playing.
Having her there on the actual date was kind of anxiety-inducing. Like yes, it was so comforting to hold her and sniff her lil' head, but I was also pretty sure I wasn't making the best impression possible because I was trying to contain her wiggly body.
As for the actual company, he was nicer than the previous date! We chatted, and I liked talking to him, but alas, he ghosted me shortly afterward.
After my disappointing two dates, I decided to give dog parks another shot. But this time, I called in some reinforcements, AKA my dog-sitter and friend Nina. I figured she'd know all the poppin' puppy spots in town so I was hopeful that having a guide would help. We went to a different area, but again, everyone was coupled off!
Sometimes a lone guy would approach with his dog, I'd make small talk...and a minute later his girlfriend would join him, two iced coffees in her hand. But seriously, there was not one straight single guy around, and we sat there, like lions waiting for prey, for THREE hours.
Off to the dog park again. I started off with a leisurely walk around the neighborhood—making sure to go earphone-less in case any cuties wanted to ask for my hand in marriage—smiled shyly, conversed with other dog owners, and overall tried to project an, "I'm here and taking applications for Bao Bao's father figure!" vibe. No such luck. Nothing beyond polite small talk, and definitely no single straight guys at the dog run afterward either.
With the experiment officially over, I was nearly ready to sit in my own sadness and relegate myself to a life of silent dog park interactions. I had the day off, so I took Bao Bao to the (human) park and settled in to read a book when I decided to give it one more try. I texted a guy I'd been out with the night before—dog-less—to see if he wanted to join us.
I initially hadn't suggested putting in a Bao Bao visit on our first date—because look where TF that had gotten me all week—but after he told me about the 28 in-limbo rescue dog applications he'd sent into the ether, I knew she'd have to make an appearance on our second date.
He came over after work, and the three of us wound up hanging out on my picnic blanket for eight hours. Bao Bao was as wiggly as ever, but thankfully, this guy didn't seem to mind. He even offered to help me carry her chunky self several times as I struggled under the weight of her squishy bean body on the walk home.
I'd been feeling pretty "meh" about this guy before our dog date, but watching him fawn over Bao Bao and keep offering to hold her leash or her poop bags or whatever was a huge turn-on. Plus, the conversation was obviously good enough to keep me in the park for eight hours. We made soft plans to see each other in a few weeks but then he ended up coming over like two days later because I fully hate myself and don't know what I want.
Did It Work?
Yes and no. No, it's not like anyone hit on me at the dog parks or on our walks, but having Bao Bao on dates with me was actually pretty fun, especially when I loosened up to the point of no longer being embarrassed by her hyperactive self. Plus, despite being totally bare-faced, sweaty, and not even subtly picking dandruff from my hair on the sixth day, I still managed to hit it off with a hot guy. We've had a record four dates so far, and I've already sent him photos of engagement rings I like. I guess Bao Bao really pulled through!
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.