It sounds crazy, but it’s true: There are more dogs than kids in Seattle. And when you’re trying to get to know people in this hectic city of ours, dogs can really be your best friend.
Rachael Kloek knows all about that. She’s a professional matchmaker, and her 8-year-old mastiff, Sookie, has introduced her to all kinds of locals since she moved here from Colorado six years ago.
We met up with Rachael and Sookie at Gas Works Park, where Sookie chased down goose poop (true story!) and Rachael gave us some tips on how our dogs can melt the so-called Seattle Freeze.
» Here’s the video from a gorgeous day at Gas Works (apologies for the wind noise!), and, below, some tips:
LET THE DOG LEAD THE WAY. Dogs are a heck of a conversation starter anywhere you go. They’re happy, they’re adorable, and it can be easier for people to approach them than their humans. “It’s definitely easier for me to meet people every day just by walking [Sookie],” Rachael said.
TALK ABOUT MORE THAN JUST DOGS. If you want to get to know the person behind a pup, you can’t just pet the dog, say it’s cute, and move on. You’ve got to segue the conversation into something you might share in common. The trick, Rachael said, is to ask specific questions that get you to talk about more than just the dog. “Do you live in this neighborhood?” is a good one to start with. Then keep going. “People enjoy talking about themselves,” Rachael said. “I know that sounds bad, but they do.”
TELL A WHITE LIE. Looking for someone who can be more than just a friend? Dogs are an excellent springboard, Rachael said. Even when they otherwise, um, wouldn’t be. “If you see someone with a dog or someone approaches you that has a dog, that’s a really great icebreaker, even if you don’t think the dog is that cute, and you wouldn’t normally stop to pet it,” she said. “You think the owner is cute? Then stop, pet the dog, give a white lie.”
AND IF YOU’RE A CAT OWNER? “When I see a cat on a leash I do think it’s a little strange,” Rachael said. “But there are cat cafes popping up all over Seattle right now [like Seattle Meowtropolitan and Neko: A Cat Cafe], so that is a good place to make that feline connection.”