Choosing the dog that is right for you is very similar to choosing a spouse. When you arrive at the shelter you will see lots of dogs in kennels. You will be instantly attracted to some of them – others not so much. Once you’ve narrowed the list down to the few that you are drawn to, then you need to start looking at their characteristics and personality traits. You want a dog that has the same interests as you and one that will fit in with your lifestyle. Don’t you look for the same qualities in a mate?
Since dogs cannot talk, it makes it hard to get a feel for their personality and character without spending a significant amount of time with them. PawsLikeMe.com is trying to bridge the communication gap. The website is an online matchmaking service. Its goal is to match humans with adoptable dogs in a similar way to how sites like EHarmony match romantic partners.
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Site users have to spend about 2 minutes answering questions about themselves and then those answers are used to match them with dogs in need of a good home. Based on the answers given by the human, they receive a list of canines that are rated based on their proximity to the user and their compatibility.
Company co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes says:
“The two major issues I saw running a nonprofit dog rescue were one, people's assumption of what they needed weren't in line with what pet was best for them and second, a ton of people were wanting to surrender their pet without putting it in a shelter. We wanted to provide a way for people to connect on a national scale.”
The site was first developed in 2013, and over the next year an algorithm was created for matching people and animals using current pet owners as beta testers. The company partnered with animal shelters to feature their pets on the site. Paws Like Me was available to users in Florida in August, and they opened to the entire United States at the end of September.
There are two similar services offered by the site. The first allows users that are interested in a dog at a rescue organization to go through the organization itself. The adoption is handled through the shelter’s typical process, and Paws Like Me simply serves as the middle man. The website receives no money. The second is for private pet owners that use the site to rehome their dog. Paws Like Me charges a $75 adoption fee and they donate half of the money to a nonprofit animal rescue organization.
Co-founder and chief commercial officer Marianna Benko says that they are hoping to help people understand that one husky can be different from another husky based on each individual dog’s personality traits. She says that they are trying to get people to see rescue pets in a new light, because most smaller organizations have trouble connecting with a large audience.
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Since shelters rarely have purebred dogs, it is beneficial for potential pet parents to look for dogs that fit their lifestyles instead of searching for a certain breed. Canine personalities are not the same as breed characteristics. Although Labradors are known for being a social dog that enjoys being with people, there is the occasional Lab that keeps to himself and is overwhelmed with crowds.
When looking to adopt a pet you should focus on the individual dog and not breed generalizations for just this reason. If you select a breed based on these generalities you could end up with a unique dog that doesn’t fit the mold – and he may not fit your lifestyle as well as you anticipated either. It is harder for people to assess the personalities of cats, so the creators of Paws Like Me have plans to add felines to the site in about a year. They are thinking of adding horses to the site in the future as well.