Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Happy Valentine's Day... Fluffy!

Don't forget that you have unconditional love at home with your four-legged friend

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If your pet didn't tell you this personally, Happy Valentine's Day! If your pet did say something, I want to know! I'd be great to find a dog that could bark Love Me Tender or a cat meow the melody of Killing Me Softly With His Song.

Personally, I've never been one for getting too excited about Valentine's Day. When I was single, friends of mine would act shocked that roses or diamonds weren't sent to them at work by their significant others. I quickly figured out that I could buy chocolates for myself, and I didn't have to poke through the tops of them to find the ones I liked.

After 20 years of marriage, Valentine's Day isn't about the stuff. In fact, it never has been. During our dating years, a favourite romantic date included walking my husband's Samoyed, Shamoo, through winter trails. It would give us time to hold hands while we got to know each other and talk about our dreams.

So when I received an email about investigating Valentine options for pet lovers, I was a bit uneasy. The last time I dated was before the Berlin Wall fell. I'm about as equipped to offer advice on how to break into the dating scene as the Greek prime minister is on how to balance a cheque book.

I suspect it isn't easy to date. But I've always wondered what the computer sites were like. Before I got married computer dating was a phrase we used for the local geek who was doing his homework on a Friday night.

Despite my rusty dating skills, I ventured into the untamed land of the dating scene -- the Internet.

After checking through two different sites, I learned quickly to be careful. If you type the words "single dating and pet lovers," dating websites aren't the only results you'll get. Even blogs can be misleading. An L.A. Times blog sounded like it would help me with this research, until the words pet lover were taken literally. I've never back-spaced that quickly.

My favourite site, if I had to pick one, is linked to Match.com. It's called PetPeopleMeet.com. The service is geared to real pet lovers and animal enthusiasts. One successful client was quoted saying, "I found a great guy with a cute puppy."

It makes sense to look for a date this way. Who would want to spend time and money only to discover the person they fell in love with was allergic to your cat or has an intense fear of Chihuahuas? Also, it gives you something to chat about from the start. For proof, head off to a dog park and you can see complete strangers talking for hours while their pups play.

I wish I had other tips for you. But I didn't spend a lot of time on these dating sites. A few minutes after I left my computer on the table to start dinner, my teenage daughter asked if she could borrow it. In a worried voice she yelled, "Mom, can you come here? Why are you on a dating website?" Before I could answer, her twin added "Is there something you need to tell me about you and Dad?"

After reassuring my girls that Daddy and I weren't about to divvy up household assets and repeat the plot of The Parent Trap, I double checked my emails. Rather than investigating ideas for single pet lovers looking for love, the email offered tips on what owners could do with their pets on Valentine's Day.

This was more my style. A few ideas immediately come to mind. They're not much different that things you can do with a friend or spouse.

You could treat yourself to a nice bottle of wine and curl up with a good book and an even better cat.

Perhaps you could lavish your pet with a day at the spa and when your pet is done, you can get a pedicure yourself.

There's always the option of a movie night in with your special pet. Replace a romantic movie with a good comedy or even a classic that you've longed to watch. Instead of wishing you had a hand to hold, remember that no one is asking you what the plot is about or mocking the star. If you had a human date instead of that perfect pet, he or she might nag you to watch Keeping up with the Kardashians or a movie with enough sex to earn an R-rating. One downside? Don't expect your pet to stay awake. Mind you, my husband falls asleep at movies, too.

Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love. If you have a pet, you already have a companion with which to share the day.

char.adam@mts.net

twitter.com/charspetpage

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 14, 2012 C5

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