Friday, February 18, 2011

Need some social networking? Get a dog!

For this cold winter weather, I have quite the appropriate guest blog: how dogs are the perfect ice breaker. Okay, so it's not that kind of ice breaker. But dogs can help us break the ice, socially, as guest blogger Heather Reynolds shares.

How Dogs are the Perfect Ice Breaker
Guest Post by Heather Reynolds

When I first moved to the Seattle area, I was right out of college and still a small town girl looking to make her way in a city. I lived on my own in a small apartment and while I had an internship three days a week, I was shy and didn’t really meet any real friends.

About six months into my life as a city girl, I decided to start looking for a canine companion. I had always been a pet lover and grew up with pets, and was excited to bring the first one into my life as an adult. I did a lot of research about the best pets for city life, and decided on the Italian Greyhound. As luck would have it, a friend of mine worked at the local humane society and alerted me to an Italian Greyhound that was brought in as a surrender. I immediately went to visit with her and brought her home that same day. (There she is in the photo, above!)

From that day on, I had an instant connection with several other people in the city. No longer was I ignored on my evening walks around my neighborhood. I was stopped several times by others walking their dogs to chat for a few seconds about how the neighborhood was so dog-friendly and did I see the new pet supply store that opened down the street?

And it wasn’t just other dog owners. Others out walking by themselves or sitting at outdoor cafes would stop me to ogle my cute little dog. This increased if I dressed her up in a coat or cute shirt – she was a celebrity!

I met new people every day and many of the same people who walked on our schedule. I got to know them and looked forward to chatting with them while we were out.

Dog parks also became a mecca for meeting new people. Pet owners trust other pet owners, of that I was starting to learn. I would discuss training techniques, health conditions, toys, crates, and clothes with complete strangers like we had known each other for years. I would pet their dog and my dog would jump up onto their lap for a snuggle. We would laugh as our dogs chased each other around the park, and look for other dogs like our own. It was an instant bond that I had never experienced before in my life.

I met some of my best friends by starting a conversation about our dogs and even now I have a job that is centered around my love of pets. Dogs are absolutely the best ice breaker if you are new to an area or simply a touch shy.

What has been your experience with using dogs as an ice breaker?

* Heather Reynolds is a pet lover and internet journalist at Trupanion. Feel free to contact her with any questions related to cat and dog insurance at heather.reynolds@trupanion.com.

33 comments:

georgia little pea said...

I've found it to be very true too. Better than babies.

My Other Half would particularly agree. He's often invited by his men friends to bring one of our dogs, Rufus, along to the pub for a pint. Rufus is the ultimate conversation starter. Women just love him and come over to say hi. I'm not sure I approve of this technique. But it's better than a cheesy pick up line :p

Kristine said...

So so so true. Before I had a dog, I never had the courage to walk up to someone and introduce myself. Now I find the dog connection gives me so much more confidence. It is always something to talk about. Most of the friends I have right now, I met through dog-related activities. Before Shiva, I was a wart-covered hermit.

Gloria said...

WHile walking, I have met some great friends. Everyone love a cute little pup!

Levi Mac said...

That is so very true! Mom has made MANY new furiends- four leggers and two leggers cuz of me. She does find though that those that don't have a pet- just don't get it and think she is silly sometimes. But she doesn't mind.

Can't wait to meet cha Sat!

Marg said...

I did kind of the same thing. But I took my puppy to Obedience school and met quite a few people. It was fun and it is a good idea to use a dog to meet other people. Blogging is also a way to make friends. Take care.

Priscilla said...

Dogs are amazing. Having dogs let me make more new friends.

jen said...

So true! and I have found that it works especially well with children, it is a great way to get them to interact.

Lori @ According to Gus said...

We agree 100%! Not only is walking, running and playing at the park great exercise, it's also how we've met many of our friends.

Just one more reason why dogs are so fantastic. :)

Corbin said...

Very true! I've brought mom together with many great people and this weekend, we'll be able to add YOU to the list!
-Corbin

Anny said...

Dogs are great ice breakers definitely. Walking my dog around the neighbourhood made me more friends. People were just friendlier if you have a dog with you and your dog is well behaved :D

Winnie said...

Other dog owners always speak to us on our walks.

The Lady Of The House says no-one she didn't already know ever spoke to her before I came along.

Dogs rule!!

Benny and Lily said...

Oh we like this post. We met lots of people. Mom knows all the doggies names and not the humans names. BOL
Benny & Lily

Heather @ Trupanion said...

It sounds like I'm not the only one who meets new friends because of her dog! Thanks for all the support. I also have found that Meetup groups focused around my particular dog breeds are a great place to meet like-minded people. Because you are right, @Levi, people without dogs just don't tend to get it. lol

Trixie, Lily, and Sammy-Joe said...

Its true! Mama is shy around people, but she will ALWAYS open up if someone has a dog she can pet, wants to pet one of us, OR is willing to talk about dogs with her! And cats too of course!

Maggie Mae said...

OoH yes! Mom and me has met so many wunderful new furiends because of ME and tomorrow you will be our newest, can't wait!

Woofs and Licks,
Maggie Mae

Karen Friesecke said...

When Jersey was a puppy I got a little TOO much attention :O I literally could not go anywhere without being stopped by atleast one person and the pet shop? Forget it! I would be in there for at least 10 minutes before I could actually get to what I came to buy. It could be annoying at times, but it was very good socialization for Jersey. She got to meet A LOT of new people!

LINDA FAULKNER said...

One of my daughters is single and lives in the city. She has a cat, but hasn't had a dog since moving out on her own - and misses them.

Just this week in fact, she called me when she was out on a walk and had to hang up and call me back because she wanted to introduce herself to a newcomer to the neighborhood ... a bulldog/beagle puppy!

This is NOT the first time I've been hung up on and postponed when she met a new "friend" and I think it's terrific.

LINDA FAULKNER said...

Benny and Lily - I just LOVE the BOL. :)

Peggy Frezon said...

@Georgia Little Pea How nice of Rufus to help those men!

@Amy good point about the dog being well behaved. Guess we wouldn't make be making many friends with the opposite!

Peggy Frezon said...

@Anny Sorry for the typo there, I guess I need to put on my glasses!

Peggy Frezon said...

@Karen That is an interesting take on the issue. Maybe Jersey needs to come with a timer. ding! Ok, time is up!

@Linda Oh, that must give a mom a wonderful peace of mind. I hope she meets a nice friend in the bulldog/beagle person!

Peggy Frezon said...

@Corbin, @Maggie Mae @Levi Mac Yes, these dogs are bringing us all together very soon!

K9friend said...

I've often heard it said that if a man wants to meet a good woman, all he needs to do is walk a dog. I believe it!

Pat
www.critteralley.blogspot.com

♥I am Holly♥ said...

I have found myself walking up to people with dogs and starting a conversation like we were old friends. I would never do that if they didn't have a dog. Going to the vet, everyone becomes instantly friendly and it's all talk and bark there. Blogging of course, with dogs or cats really let's you make lots of friends. I cannot imagine life without a dog or my cats. Lots of love, Debbie and Holly

Jessi said...

Soo many people at the dog park want to know what kind of dog Charlie is, that question alone has gotten people to talk to me more then any other.

Life Student said...

You have to have a heart of stone to resist an Italian greyhound. Three of our best dog park friends are Italian greyhounds, and those big soulful eyes make me melt every time!

I agree whole-heartedly that dogs are wonderful social bridges, and without my dog park experiences, I wouldn't even have a blog!

Jan Mader said...

Truer words were never spoken! Some neighbors don't know my name but they sure know the names of my dogs!!!

FiveSibesMom said...

Great post and oh how true! I've met some wonderful people through my canine social networking - including Peggy of Peggy's Pet Place! :-)

Lavi said...

Thanks for sharing this! Your guest writer is absolutely right. I'd never talked to other people in my neighbourhood until I started taking my dog for a walk. A lot of people stop us to pet Aschiuta or ask about her age, gender, name, breed etc.

I must say having a dog is good for getting a date too. I've had people ask me out.

I guess people want to talk to others, but they need a common ground and having a dog can be the basis of a good conversation. Plus, this trust comes from the idea that an animal lover has to be a good person.

Peggy Frezon said...

@FiveSibesMom Awww thank you! The feeling is mutual. I'm grateful for all my doggy bloggie friends.

Pup Fan said...

Definitely true... I don't know if I would have met as many of my neighbors without Bella to break the ice! Though I find that I know all of the dogs' names instead of the people's.

Heather @ Trupanion said...

I love reading through all your comments. It looks like we have a lot of social dogs represented here! I too find myself not only answering other people's questions about MY dog, but going up to complete strangers to talk about their dogs. It's just so easy and I tend to walk away remembering all these great things about the dogs and thinking.. wait, what was the owner's name again? lol

Kim said...

Hi Heather! Yes, it's so true - in fact the movie "Must Love Dogs" kinda proved your point I think. I'm generally an introvert so my dogs have really helped me be able to get to know lots of people socially. Wow, just another thing they give us without demanding anything in return :-)

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