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My Story: Dating as a Single Dog Mom — Here’s the Truth of the Matter

Stella the dog at a pumpkin patch
Angela Serednicki

Thanks to growing up as a big fan of early-2000s romantic comedies, I never imagined I’d be single at 28. Although my love life isn’t what I thought it would be, I’ve always known that I never wanted my relationship status to hold me back from leading the life I’ve always envisioned. Since I was lucky enough to grow up with the sweetest dog a kid could ask for, becoming a dog mom in adulthood was always part of the dream. So, once I felt financially stable and established in my career, I jumped headfirst into single pet parenthood. 

We were always meant to be a family.

I brought Stella home on October 16, 2021. That day will forever be one of my happiest memories. My beloved childhood dog, Happy, passed away due to old age earlier that year. The first moment I held Stella in my arms, I felt she was sent from Happy to be my new best friend in this chapter of my life. We were always meant to be a family. 

Related: Must love dogs? How to date someone who isn’t a ‘pet person.’

Angela holding Stella the dog as a puppy
Image courtesy of Chris Basalo

Stella was a ball of energy who, at times, was truly tireless. Since I live alone, it was always just the two of us in my cozy 325-square-foot studio in downtown Toronto. Despite growing up with pets, nothing could have prepared me for the reality of having a puppy all by myself. Raising a teething, potty-training puppy is nothing like you see on social media. (It’s lucky they’re incredibly cute.) Training a puppy in those first few months of a dog’s life takes so much time and effort, especially while dealing with the cold weather. 

I would feel fortune if I slept three or four hours a night during those first few months after bringing Stella home. Little by little, it would get better — but there was no way of knowing how much that small puppy would change everything — especially my love life.


See also: Dogs can help people through the grieving process: research,

Here are five ways that becoming a dog mom has changed my dating game.

Stella the dog in the snow
Image courtesy of Chris Basalo

My schedule revolves around my dog

Even though she’s a year old now, most of my schedule still revolves around Stella and everything she needs. As a single dog parent, all of her exercise, feeding and bathroom breaks are my responsibility. And since she’s a high-energy dog, she needs multiple walks or times where she can run around the park with her dog friends. 

Stella relies on me for everything, so no matter how well a date is going, I know I’ll likely have to cut the date short at a reasonable hour because Stella is waiting for me. 

And, since Stella sleeps with me on my bed, I’m not too eager to host someone new at my place either. Goodbye, spontaneous sleepovers! 

Related: Need another reason to adopt a pet? Long-term pet owners may have slower cognitive decline.

Angela and her childhood dog, Happy
Image courtesy of Angela Serednicki

He must love dogs, too

After losing my childhood dog, I see each day I have with Stella as a gift. If you’ve ever loved an animal, you know there’s no such thing as having enough time with your four-legged best friend. No matter their lifespan, their time on earth will always feel too short. Every moment counts. This means that sometimes I’d rather order takeout and stay in at my place or look for a dog-friendly patio so that Stella can come, too. 

A few years ago (before Stella was in the picture), I casually dated a guy who mentioned that he never walked a dog before. I laughed and said that he can practice with Happy and jokingly said that I’ll even let him pick up after her, too. He looked so grossed out at the thought of cleaning up her business and told me he’d never want to do that. And while I’m not looking for a partner to become my dog walker, he’s got to be OK with the less glamorous side of pet parenthood.


Related: Dogs may tear up (with joy) when reunited with owners: research

Stella needs to approve

If I ever hit it off with a date, I try to get them to meet Stella as soon as possible. It’s less about seeing if he likes her, but rather how she reacts to him. 

Even though Stella pretty much loves everybody, I trust her judgement when it comes to other people’s energies. It turns out I have a pretty good reason for thinking this way. A 2015 Japanese study found that dogs can make social and emotional evaluations that help them understand when humans mistreat their owner. Stella is used to being around a lot of different men when we visit the dog park, and she definitely reacts warmer to some guys than others. 

On the other hand, Stella attracts a lot of attention wherever she is. I like seeing how patient my date is with people who come up to say hi to Stella (both by themselves and with other dogs) or how he talks with little kids that want to play with her. 

You may also like: My story: I can’t stop grieving my dog, and that’s OK

Stella the dog snuggling
Image courtesy of Chris Basalo


Dating single dog dads isn’t easy

So many people in their twenties and thirties have pets in downtown Toronto, but dating another dog dad isn’t as simple as it sounds. Being outside with your dog a lot makes it easy to meet new people. But there have been so many times that I chat with a cute guy only to find myself cursing that I just rolled out of bed to take Stella out and realize I’m wearing my baggiest pair of sweats. 

the unceasing love she has for me has helped me find a confidence and self-assurance in myself that I never knew was possible. 

Meanwhile, when I match with another dog owner on a dating app, the conversation quickly turns to our fur babies (obviously). Most of the time someone will bring up the idea of meeting up with our dogs — but only after a few questions first. Is she good off-leash? Is he OK with smaller dogs? The chat eventually centres around our dogs’ personalities and habits to see if they would mesh well together during a potential coffee and walk/park date. 

Factor in my bad allergy to dog hair (Stella doesn’t shed), and the thought of dating another pet parent feels pretty slim.

Related: The cutest hypoallergenic dog breeds for the allergy-prone.

Stella makes my standards higher

Although dating as a single dog mom is challenging, I wouldn’t change anything about raising a dog by myself. Dogs love unconditionally, and Stella is no exception. Her eyes light up when I walk into a room. She embodies the joy-filled meaning of having golden retriever energy. And the unceasing love she has for me has helped me find a confidence and self-assurance in myself that I never knew was possible. 

Although I hope Mr. Right is just around the corner, I only want to be with someone who brings that same happiness into my life. Why settle for anything less?

See also: The top 7 predicted dating trends of 2023, according to Bumble.


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