Dating the Dogs of Instagram

Leslie Phelan on the dog dating scene of Instagram

By Leslie Phelan

Photo credit:

I picked up a guy on Instagram. Well, I guess my pugs did, and as it goes in the world of instant photo shares and the resulting ‘Likes’ accrued, he liked a recent #dogsofinstagram pic I posted, commented with “I know where that park is!” and then sent me a Follow request. I couldn’t decide whether the comment was cute or stalker-ish, so I followed him back to check him out.

As it happens, the guy was gorgeous! He had a ton of very original ROFL-worthy pet memes and was rich in frame-worthy pics of him and his Rottweiler Atticus. I was Insta-attracted! His profile read like photo grid proving the fiercest kind of canine love.


Days later, he posted a pic of Atticus in the same spot as where mine was taken, sopping wet from a swim. He tagged me: “@lesliephelan: come out and play?”

I slipped on my sandals and finger-combed my hair, in disbelief that I was actually thinking of going out to meet him. THIS was the move of a stalker, right? He was definitely a social media creeper, right?!

I put the pugs in their harnesses and leashed ‘em up. I dabbed on a bit of lip gloss. What? The guy was clearly snap-happy and I wasn’t going to be caught unprepared next to my photogenic furry friends. I commented back that we were just on our way out there, reasoning with myself that online guys are not necessarily more likely to be axe murderers than guys met in real life.

I spotted him easily among the trees and grass. He wore cuffed khakis and boat shoes – my fave summertime man look – and his hair was nicely coiffed but at that sweet spot between trims. Yum! As yummy as in his photos, if not more.

Just as we stepped closer and my mind drifted to how cute all three of our dogs would look curled up on our future shag rug in front of our future fireplace, Atticus ran forward, tongue wagging, to greet the pugs. I smiled and looked up just in time to see my guy’s face twist into an angry grimace while he yelled “HEEL, ASSHOLE!”

The abruptness of his rude command singed my spirit for a sec. Asshole? Really? The dog was just saying Hi.

Atticus got low and whimpered until his owner gave him the signal that he was now allowed to continue. I didn’t see what the point of that was, except to exert ownership and dominance. I just found it unpleasant.


“Hi beautiful!” said the guy brightly as he turned to me. “It’s so nice to be meeting you right now!”

“It’s nice to meet you,” I replied, leaning in for that handshake-hug people do when they feel bonded enough through remote banter but are still technically in their first rendez-vous. The dark character I’d just witnessed had gone and the hottie from the pics emerged. But before I could comment on the lovely weather, he was at it again, this time shouting over my shoulder, “ATTICUS, GET BACK HERE! USELESS PRICK.”

I was in shock! I definitely didn’t expect the eloquent Instagrammer I’d been politely flirting with to drop two nasty word bombs on me within the first five seconds of meeting. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, more scathing language: “STUPID SHIT SMEAR! GET AWAY FROM THERE!” Atticus was sniffing around the garbage cans and the guy ran to apprehend him. I had heard enough. As he loudly cursed for all to hear, the pugs and I made a stealthy exit.

Moral of the story: be the kind of person your dog thinks you are. But if your dog knows you’re an aggressive blowhard, maybe don’t be that – it’s not hot, even if your pics are.