In matters of the heart, dogs — or any pet — can be relationship makers . . . or breakers. Dog lovers share a unique appreciation for what it really means to love dogs, and sharing that passion with others is a favorite pastime. So creating meetups for those who share the love of dogs makes sense. While connecting with others and developing relationships comes easy for some, others do better with a helping hand.
When the context is romance, today’s version of the dating dance can take a dog-loving single seeking [fill in the blank] through a blur of websites, events and “help” from well-meaning friends and relatives . . . only to discover the one special person they meet . . . doesn’t like dogs.
All great reasons to attend the Spot/Monaco Mutt Mixer Feb. 4. Pdxdog will be joining the fun with a special “must love dogs”-style activity for networking, and who knows! Maybe even romance.
Andrea Schneider, founder of pdxdog.com, refers to the activity as Must Love Dogs Speed Connect. “You never know who you might meet at this speed ‘meet and greet’ she says.
These days networking and relationship building have become part of our culture as more people recognize their value in helping find a job, make new friends, tap new resources and stay connected. To that end pdxdog.com “plays an online role of convener and collaborator,” says Schneider.
Those new to on-line social networks might not be familiar with pdxdog.com, but for people who love dogs, it’s a must-see online destination. Schneider says, “You can’t believe how many people visit from other places wanting to get the inside scoop on moving to Portland with their pooch. We roll out the welcome mat to Portland and the dog community. I can’t think of a better way to greet new people before they even get here — pdxdog is really friendly and inclusive.”
In late ’06, Schneider started working on the idea for pdxdog.com after realizing that having a dog with her (her first Golden Retriever Jake at that time) made her and others more open, and greatly increased her daily social interactions. As owner of The Pearl Retriever pet boutique at that time, she says, “I noticed how people loved just hanging out at the store, meeting others, and talking about dogs.”
Schneider connected this thought with the fact that, since the beginning of time, humankind has labored to communicate and maintain social connections — through smoke signals, carrier pigeons, stagecoaches, the telephone . . . and now the Internet.
Combining these two thoughts brought pdxdog.com to life in Spring 2007, one of the nation’s earliest online social networks made just for dog lovers.
Schneider says, “The new technology gives people more choices about how they live and participate in community. They can minimize or expand their contact and communications with others in ways not thought possible a few years ago.”
While Schneider points out that today people can conceivably “live, earn, shop and go about life without ever leaving your house,” the spirit of social networking is not that. “They actually allow us to connect and build community in profoundly new ways,” says Schneider. “It gives us another option to discover, re-discover and cultivate rich, reciprocal and lasting relationships. Successful online networking sites are increasingly popular and have become places where communities develop and grow,” she says.
Which is in fact the idea behind pdxdog.com: to build upon Portland’s already thriving dog community. Simply stated, says Schneider, “pdxdog.com is part of building a strong dog-loving community for our pets and each other, online.”
Humans have a basic need for connection and, Schneider says, “Social networking can to some extent mimic real-life groups and communities,” adding that like real life, “they rely entirely on participation, communication, sharing and involvement.”
Aptly described as the “Facebook for people with dogs,” what better home base than Portland, OR. Men’s Health Magazine ranked Portland second only to Colorado Springs, CO under Best Cities for Dogs. The Rose City also ranked second (again to Colorado Springs) in Forbes.com’s Most Pet-Friendly Cities poll.
While there are many online dog sites, Schneider says “pdxdog is the only [dog-related] social network here in Portland.” She describes it as a “meaningful network of like-minded, passionate individuals who share stories, exchange information, and collaborate on ideas.” When this writer searched for a similar website in Colorado Springs, there was none to be found.
pdxdog.com membership is free. To date, over 1,200 belong, over half from the Portland Metro area. Schneider purposely focused on the Portland, to allow for people to meet offline, as well as online. She says doesn’t judge the quality of pdxdog.com by the number of members, as they’re “not the whole story.” Non-members can and do enjoy the website as well. “In the last three months there have been over 25,000 visitors from over 100 different countries,” Schneider says. That’s just one statistic that places pdxdog.com high in the rankings of social media sites; pdxdog reports a web-ranking of 99% out of 100 for marketing effectiveness.
Similar to other on-line networking sites, pdxdog members have a profile page where they may reveal as much or as little as they like, upload photos, invite others to be their friends, and leave comments on one another’s pages. Here’s where it gets interesting: members can also get involved through events, activities, g videos, workshops, and over 80 special interest groups — running the gamut from specific breed groups to heath, behavior, grooming, business, travel, recreation, and more.
Don’t have a dog? Not a problem. There are members who share their lives with cats, birds, horses and frogs, to name a few. And most of us have had times in our lives when we were sans pet — which didn’t mean we stopped loving them.
As in the real world, Schneider says those who get the most out of the site are those who initiate and participate. “Members can start their own groups, but they’ll want to make sure they’re engaging,” she says. “It all about forming meaningful relationships and doing something with the relationships that are developed.”
Schneider says she hopes pdxdog “contributes to Portland life and its dog-loving community,” adding, “It takes effort and people to make it work; it’s a reciprocal relationship.”
Toward that end several new projects are in the works, like the upcoming Must Love Dogs speed-connect at Spot’s upcoming Mixer. Another activity, coming soon along with nicer weather, is new a group called Dog Dates, which encourages dog lovers to join in for hikes, walks, coffee meetups and the like.
“The pdxdog.com story continues to write itself,” says Schneider, “alongside the emerging world of social networking.”
Check it out at www.pdxdog.com.