How social networking has gone to the dogs
February 8, 2009
Britt Smith, with her Tibetan terrier, Bear, launched dogtree for dog owners seeking companionship for their pooches. Photo: Craig Sillitoe
"LOVING, outgoing but clingy Alsatian in need of an affectionate playmate for a lazy afternoon of slobbering, sniffing and digging."
"Needy, obsessive schnauzer with an outgoing personality seeks like-minded, companionable canine."
It sounds a bit like an online dating website for love-starved pooches. In fact, dogtree is a new social networking site for lonely dogs who fret during those long weekdays when their owners are at work.
With nothing to do and no one to play with, destroying the garden, ripping the washing off the line, relentlessly barking and eating an expensive pair of shoes are common ways for attention-seeking hounds to kill time.
Inspired by the success of Facebook, Britt Smith — who is a casual journalist with The Age online — founded the non-profit website after she placed a classified advertisement in a local newspaper to find a companion for Bear, her three-year-old Tibetan terrier.
"I got 20 phone calls and that's when I realised there needed to be a service offered to help dog owners," she said.
She found Stella, an anxious fox terrier who kept Bear company two days a week. When she moved house from Geelong to Kensington last year, Smith was quick to find another companion for Bear — this time, Sophie, a Maltese cross.
Bear was inconsolable on the days he was alone. "Usually I have to carry him outside and he scratches at the back door to get in, staring at me with sad eyes," Smith said.
"I was concerned that he was upset and bored throughout the day; being at home all that time is like solitary confinement."
She considered placing him in dog day care until she found out it costs between $30 and $60 a day.
The dogtree website was launched last week with 88 members. Owners post a picture of their dog and fill in a profile with breed type, age, size, vaccination history, personality and postcode.
Kane doesn't need to join a networking website, he has plenty of canine friends.