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May 01, 2004

Using Fido to Break the Ice

By: Mark Edmund

Some consider it the ultimate icebreaker:
Talking about pets.

You’re in the park, on the beach, or at the pet supply store with your canine companion. You’re minding your own business, but before you know it, you’ve struck up a conversation with a complete stranger. And you can’t stop talking about four-legged friends – and more.

Realizing how easy conversations like this can happen, a local event organizer coupled this concept with her involvement with 8minuteDating, a speed-dating event that looks to make connections among single people.

The result? A packed house of more than 30 people – and a handful of dogs – at the Wisconsin Humane Society, 4500 W. Wisconsin Ave., on a cold March night in the middle of the week – with a waiting list of more than dozen ready to participate in this unique dating event.

“We’ve had tons and tons of calls,” said Kristyn Greenfield, a local organizer who planned the event. Because of the overwhelming response, Greenfield has coordinated another similar event on May 19 for single people from the ages of 35 to 47.

Throughout the evening, the room buzzed with conversations and music as the singles rotated from date-to-date (eight random meetings that lasted exactly eight minutes) and exchanged stories about their dogs or cats. Singles wore nametags that included small dog and/or cat stickers, designating the animal that the single owned.

Dogs were not required to attend. Organizers asked that the singles with dogs having any aggression issues toward other dogs, for example, keep the pet at home for the evening.

After each random meeting, singles were asked to make notes on each other. They were asked to visit the dating web site later and enter information on whether they were interested in meeting the person again for a second date. From there, if the request matched from both sides, a date could be arranged.

Most all the singles agreed about the ease they had to start conversations using the topic of dogs or cats.

“Otherwise you could be standing there, just reaching to try and start a conversation,” said Liz, a single from Milwaukee who has owned dogs in the past and dog-sits for a friend’s yellow lab.

From her meetings throughout the evening, Laura, another cat-owner from Milwaukee, made what could be a telling observation about cat-owners and dog-owners.

“The guys with dogs just seemed more outgoing,” she said.

Wade, a single cat-owner from Milwaukee, said the unique event piqued his interest enough to give it a try. He was keeping an open mind and interested in meeting both dog- and cat-lovers.

“This was just really convenient for me and I thought I’d definitely need to check it out,” he said.

For those interested in the May 19 event, you can find out more information and register online at 8minuteDating.com. The cost of the event is $35.

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