Finding Your Perfect Match – How Much Can You Put Up With?

Like most of you, I read descriptions of dogs looking for homes. In their effort to make sure the dogs go to the right homes, these descriptions are, at the same time, celebratory (cuddly, smart, energetic) and cautionary (best to a home without children, prefers to be only dog, needs lots of exercise).

I’ve never done online dating. But that form of matchmaking is about enticing you with the good characteristics of a prospective mate. Maybe it would be better if they took the same approach as pet adoption sites. After all, everyone has some good qualities. But can you stand to live with their bad ones?

You see, that’s my pet theory about relationships. The most successful ones are when you find the person whose bad habits you can tolerate the best. I could probably find other men who would appreciate my quirky sense of humor and ability to whip up a good meal in fifteen minutes or less using fresh ingredients. But how many people would tolerate my little pieces of paper with cryptic notes gathering all over the house and my pathological need to be reassured every ten minutes that I’ve done something well? I think I found the only one.

Old Mixed Breed Dogs, Agatha and Christie

They look harmless and cute, don't they?

Ok, back to dogs. My first dogs, Agatha and Christie, did a lot of damage around the house. They found one small slit in the kitchen vinyl floor and managed turn it into a seven foot long hole. They tore the stuffing out of not one, but two, couches–one was an antique. Oh, and my cookbook collection? They ruthlessly tore the bindings off them. No, not all of them. Only the expensive ones–the $60 Julia Child baking book and the Italian cookbook with lots of beautiful photographs.

For some people that behavior would have meant a quick trip to the pound. But I just assumed that’s the way dogs behaved and I shouldn’t mind so much.

Of course, I also could have practiced some management, explored crating, and started working on more exercise and training but I wasn’t that smart then.

If your dog is shy or possessive or destructive and you’re working with her, you might have just found your match–the dog whose bad habits you’re able to handle (even if it’s not easy). Some people could never handle a shy dog; they’d be too impatient. And we’ve probably all met someone who got a Jack Russell terrier thinking it was a lap dog but couldn’t tolerate the energy levels and mischief.

Agatha and Christie’s destructiveness was a good match for me. I’m a sloppy housekeeper and I’m not terribly attached to “things.” But if they had been “biters,” I might not have been such a good match. That’s one bad habit that really scares me. I don’t think I’m the person who can work with that issue.

So if you’re not perfect (and if you are, please tell me so; I want to learn how you did it) appreciate the people who love you. It’s probably not that you’re such a great person but that they can tolerate your weaknesses.

And if your dog isn’t perfect, and you love him anyway, appreciate yourself for being the right person to handle her weaknesses. You’ve made a good match.

This is a blog hop. Hop on…


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  1. Of Pitbulls and Patience says:

    Well put! I had recently been thinking about how lucky it was that Skye came to live with me, as many of her issues didn’t show up right away, and many adopters would not be able to handle it. Also, if I ever try online dating, I’m giving myself an adoptable dog profile- good advice!

  2. I’ve always felt extremely lucky that I found and married a guy (not through the internet) who not only puts up with me and my odd ball ways of doing things, but he adores my dog. Not only that, he liked him so much we added another (internet) dog to the family.

  3. As always, a great post. I know that I must have a high tolerance level. My mom always says if I had been you I would have gotten rid of that cat (Nick is a challenge all of the time.) She doesn’t really mean it, but it’s her way of saying that she could never handle him. I don’t doubt it!

    I may not have that special human someone in my life, but I have to say that I am glad I have my two dogs. Yes. Jasper is obsessed with me throwing his tennis ball. Yes. Daisy was a lot of work at the beginning. But, getting past the hard stuff (or their not so appealing qualities) is what makes a relationship stronger. Right?

  4. Lol, I did a LOT of on-line dating after I became single. After all, you’re not a whole person unless you’re attached to another one, right? And it was something to do, helped me become less shy and I did meet the odd nice man. But I did learn that you don’t have to be attached to another person to be a whole person and also that my dogs are more important to me than being with the wrong person.

    As for the perfect dog, no, mine aren’t perfect but their faults are ones I can live and cope with, they’re minor. In fact I can’t really think of any, lol, maybe they are perfect! Oh, I really wouldn’t mind if they never dug another hole in the lawn. I’m very lucky with my 2 kids:)

  5. What well-spoken words! I tend to agree with you. I haven’t had an issue yet with a dog that I couldn’t work with, but some are a lot easier than others. I think you do have to know your limits and what you can and can’t deal with, and be honest about it if you want to find a really good match.

  6. Good post! I totally agree with you. Oscar’s not the perfect dog, and I know I’m not the perfect owner. Oscar is rambunctious, chews many things (including our house), and barks like mad. But he’s also playful, loyal, protective, and social. We dog sat briefly for a dog this weekend who was quite timid. She spent a lot of time shying away from us and hiding under a bed. I hadn’t ever dealt with a dog like that, and I don’t think I’d have the patience to on a long-term basis. As much as Oscar sometimes drives us batty, he fits us and we can’t imagine life without him!

  7. Hi, I’m Jackie! I found you through the Dogtipper bloggie hop. My mom loves the names Agatha and Christie, Agatha Christie is her favorite author! I am a Jack Russell Terrier and I’m actually a perfect doggie in every way! (Wait…Mom started snorting with laughies when I said that…) Well, I guess I do have a tiny bit of a problem with barking, I will shout at anything outside – peoples, kittycats (grrr!), cars, visitors, Daddy, etc. So far (after 10 years) Mom still hasn’t been able to help me much with that. But my family luvs me and puts up with me. My brother Dillon is pretty easygoing, though, but Mom says he mostly just came that way! We agree that it is a good idea to understand someone’s bad qualities and whether you can live with them or not. But it’s a good thing Daddy didn’t know my bad qualities before I was adopted or he might have said no, BOL! But once he got to know me he luved me lots!

    Barks and Wiggles,


  8. Great post! And it got me thinking about what’s a “no go” for me. I definitely know I can’t deal with seperation anxiety. Working 9-5, 5 days a week just wouldn’t work! I short-term fostered an SA dog and it was stressful for everyone.

    I give a big “kudos” to all those with SA dogs!!!

  9. Wow! Great post! Thanks for sharing!
    I am here through the Saturday Blog hop. Its tough, but I try to go to at least half the sites and leave a post.
    This is Sam’s Mom speaking here. Yes, I to have had to deal with difficult animals (we have a cat, Penelope and she has her own blog – thecatfromhell dot blogspot dot come). I can’t tell you what dealing with difficult animals ca do! But you know, I think that if your dogs had a biting problem, you would have dealt with it! You seem to be that kind of person!
    Rock on!

  10. Knowing what you can and can’t handle I think is very important. However, before Shiva, there was a lot I didn’t think I was ready to take on. Separation anxiety, human reactivity, dog reactivity, the destruction of my favourite books, a dog that doesn’t get along with my cat, territorial barking… Those were all areas we thought we would have to draw the line. It turns out there is nothing we haven’t been able to manage, overcome, or at least learn to tolerate!
    Resource guarding and actual aggression may be a lot different, I don’t know. Shiva has never bit anyone to my knowledge. But I have no doubt with the right trainer on our team, we could learn how to handle (or just live with) these issues as well.

    In a dog, there isn’t much I won’t put up with. In a human partner, well, that’s another story completely! 😉 Great post!

  11. Oh, how I wish my brain would grant my desire to leave a smart (and not smart-*ssed) comment regarding your insightful words, but alas, it’s not to be. So all I can come up with in response is that Jon Farleigh and Dewi clearly needed to liberate me from my former neat-freaky ways. And not only that, they aptly recognized my narrow-mindedness in the area of interior decorating. Imagine how uptight I might still be without their intervention.

  12. Great post! I love the way you think. Boy you could really dig deep with that one. I don’t even know where to begin, but it’s got me thinking. You make an excellent point. Where will you draw the line? Maybe that’s how people should really be thinking, instead of looks or breed or what the dog can do, but how much they will really tolerate of a dog.

    I think we have a very high tolerance with our dogs, but there certain issues I never thought I could never tolerate, like aggression, and yet I’ve been learning how stop it before it starts, but I also have a greater appreciation on dealing with my worst fears about it. So not only am I learning about it I am also facing it and beginning to have an understanding of it. If I had ever known that Brut was agressive, I would have never got him, but then again look at the relationship I would have missed out on. He’s like my right hand man.

    Excellent question! You’ve got my wheels turning. BOL!

  13. i think my perfect match [dog] at the moment would be one who sleeps in late, knows how to feed herself, clean up after herself, walk herself and, while she’s at it, bring home the groceries and bring me coffee in bed.

    ditto with the perfect match [man].

    do you think i expect too much of my relationships?

  14. Excellent post! I definitely agree that compatibility is in large part about finding the person whose bad habits you can tolerate. Or I guess another way I could put it – that the bad habits are something you’re willing to deal with because on the whole the good that you get out of the relationship makes it worth it. :) I’d never thought of it this way with pups, but it’s an interesting point! Now to ponder…