Twenty years ago, Mary Ann Zeman was looking to adopt a brave and energetic pup that could handle her New York City life. She’d heard dachshunds had a good temperament for urban environments, so she found a pair of siblings and brought them home. George was a perfect fit, but the other wasn’t: Gracie was shy and timid, which made Zeman feel guilty about forcing her to live in the city. She kept both pups but wished there had been a way for her to better know their personalities before adopting—for her sake and the dogs’.
Fast-forward 15 years: Zeman teamed up with her business colleague Sharon Mosse and dog trainer Jodi Andersen and created How I Met My Dog to make the adoption process more transparent and reassuring. A would-be adopter fills out a 56-question survey about their personality and lifestyle, and animals shelters do the same thing on behalf of the dogs they’re creating profiles for. “We think it’s important to look at adoption from the dog’s point of view,” says Andersen. “If he needs to run a lot and you’re a couch potato, that’s not going to be a good match.” From there, the site aims to create a perfect match. “We call it ‘comPETibility,’” says Mosse.
Besides the obvious, PET stands for “personality, expectations, and training style.” Questions (developed by a team of shelter experts, vets, trainers, and behaviorists) suss out your lifestyle, the activities you look forward to doing with your dog, and what kind of trainer you think you’d be. For example, “I would describe myself as (a) generally unorganized, (b) somewhat orderly, or (c) very organized,” or “When I imagine my dog sitting or lying on my couch, I feel (a) happy, (b) annoyed, or (c) indifferent.” One thing you won’t be asked about? Breed. The team believes that breed has very little to do with whether or not you and a pooch will be a match made in doggie heaven.
Once you complete your profile, the site’s algorithm works to find your new best friend— for free. You can view the dog’s profile and set up a “first date” through the shelter. If it’s not love at first sight, don’t worry! You’ll keep receiving matches until you find The One. You might be matched with a pup that you never considered your type, says Andersen: “We’ve found that the so-called bully breeds, like pit bulls, are often adopted first, even though a lot of people wouldn’t consider one otherwise. Now all dogs can find a home.”