It seems that Valentine’s Day is no longer only about romance and red roses. It’s also about doggie drool and furry affection, because some women appear to prefer hot dogs to cool guys.
According to a new national survey of 1,000 American adults — 500 dog owners and 500 non-dog owners — conducted by the American Kennel Club (AKC), 34 percent of the women dog owners endorsed the statement, “If my dog was a man, he’d be my boyfriend.”
And an overwhelming majority — nearly 90 percent — agreed that their dog had at least one endearing quality that they’d like to see in their significant other.
So move over Mr. Right and make way for Rover!
People are so in love with their dogs, it even affects their interpersonal relationships with other people, says Gail Miller, a spokesperson for the AKC. “Dogs are so important to their owners that they can, in many instances, make or break a relationship.”
So what are the doggy traits that make the women surveyed sigh? Pooches have a perennial good mood. They are always willing to spend time together, and always up for a cuddle on the couch. They're keen to exercise, and rarely complain about what is served for dinner.
Other key qualities, says New York psychologist Joel Gavriele-Gold, are that "dogs don’t talk back and you don’t have to worry about their emotions."
"In fact, you don’t have to worry about what they are thinking either," says Gavriele-Gold, author of the best-selling book "When Pets Come Between Partners: How to Keep Love — and Romance — in the Human/Animal Kingdom of Your Home."
Dogs also shower their owners with total adoration, says Gavriele-Gold, who currently shares his home with a male and a female Bouvier des Flandres. “This has not always been the case in many of my human female relationships. Something gets lost when the significant other is capable of speech.”
It's not just women pining for undying love and a wagging tail, the AKC poll found. Men also wish their partners shared some canine qualities. Among them: Dogs are as content to hang around at home as to go out on the town, they always offer an enthusiastic welcome home at the end of a long day, and they couldn't care less if there’s always sports on TV.
The poll also determined that when it comes to meeting women, 58 percent of men said a puppy is a foolproof babe-magnet.
“That’s absolutely true,” says Robert Yau, founder of the San Francisco-based Datemypet.com, the online pet dating service that matches up people with pets. “We have found that a puppy really helps to break the ice."
Yau points out there are currently about 40 million single pet owners in the United States.
Someone with a cute puppy projects a nurturing, caring personality that attracts the opposite sex, says Yau. A person with a friendly dog comes across as friendly and responsible.
In many instances, people are drawn to a particular profile on the Web because of the "ahh factor" of the pet’s photograph, says Yau.
“When it comes to selecting profiles on the Internet, women and men seem to make certain judgments base on the dog's physical appearance and behavior. A people-friendly dog typically comes from a friendly environment. While an aggressive dog can be a direct reflection of its owner,” says Yau.
Different dog breeds are also known for particular personality traits. Anyone trying to find the perfect mate by relating the type of dog they have in their lives should take note that German shepherds, Norwegian elkhounds, labrador retrievers and golden retrievers are considered to be very loyal. Boston terriers and French bulldogs have a good sense of humor. Border collies and dobermans are the athletes of the dog world. For intelligence, there’s nothing like a wire fox terrier, while bulldogs and pomeranians make perfect couch-potato companions.
If you are planning to buy your dog a Valentine’s Day gift, you are not alone. According to the 2005-2006 American Pet Product Manufacturers Association national pet owners survey, this year more than 9 million pet owners will purchase a little something for the special pet in their lives.
Sandy Robins is an award-winning freelancer writer based in Irvine, Calif. Her work has appeared in numerous publications in the United States and internationally.