Dom Dickinson hit the dating game hard when he split up with his girlfriend, signing up to Tinder, Hinge and Bumble.
But the 28-year-old didn’t have much luck when it came to the ladies, despite having his own business, owning a house and being a good looking chap.
However everything changed when he had a rethink and changed the photos on his profiles.
Dom, from Watford, added photos of him with his adorable poochon puppy Oscar – and it worked a treat.
He claims his likes have surged “tenfold”, but it’s left him wondering one thing – “Is it me or my dog that she’s attracted to?
He said: “I’ve used Tinder, Bumble and Hinge dating sites on-and-off for about three-and-a-half years, ever since I split up with my ex-girlfriend.
“Then, as soon as I uploaded pictures of me and Oscar to my profile when I first got him, the female attention went crazy.
“I ended up with about 10 times as many matches as I’d been getting before – which is great.
“Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the extra attention, but I do often wonder if it’s me or the dog women are after.
“It’s not me or my money that are attracting the women, it’s Oscar.”
Describing himself as a “single dad” to his poochon – a cross between a pedigree Bichon Frise and a pure-bred miniature poodle – he bought him from a breeder in Bradford, west Yorkshire, in 2017 and said it was “love at first sight” between them.
He said: “People underestimate how much you can bond with a dog – it terrifies me how much I love him – he’s my absolute life.
“He just gives me those puppy dog eyes, literally, and he knows he can get away with anything.
“I feel like he’s my son and I’m a single dad – we have an unbelievable bond.”
Dom’s love affair with dogs began after he split up with his girlfriend of more than two years and became slightly introverted, which worried his friends.
“We ended things amicably, but it was my first proper break-up, so I did find it a tough adjustment,” he said.
“Before we split up, I was always out for dinner and drinks, but after I just preferred my own company a bit more.
“Some of my friends noticed I wasn’t quite myself and told me I should go on Borrow My Doggy, an app that puts you in touch with people, so you can look after their dog for the day.”
After downloading the app, within weeks Dom was hooked up with a friendly poochon dog called Pablo.
“I looked after Pablo for one night and I loved it,” he said. “Then it became a regular thing and I’d look after him whenever his family was on holiday or out for the evening.”
And when, six months later, Dom was told that Pablo’s mum had given birth to a new litter, he knew he had to have one of the puppies.
Collecting Oscar, who he has professionally groomed at his local salon, Groomarts, every six weeks, he was instantly smitten.
“The timing was perfect, as I’d just left my job as a recruiter and was setting up my own business, so I was based at home,” Dom explained.
“It was a huge responsibility to have a dog that relied solely on me – it was like having a baby – but at least I was around to get him house trained.
“And Oscar brought me out of my shell again.
“He also made me mature as, while I used to love the social scene – and I still enjoy going out – now I’ve got someone I need to go home for. He’s given me a purpose.
“I don’t think anything of leaving a night out early now, because I need to let Oscar out.”
And it seems that Dom is not the only one to find Oscar’s charms irresistible – if the reaction from prospective online dates is anything to go by.
“Before I got Oscar, I’d usually upload selfies to dating sites, but as soon as I got him, I added pictures with him to my profile,” he said.
“There’s one particular picture of me with Oscar when he’s a baby and I’m holding him in a harness that women love. It’s a bit old now, but I’ve left it on my profile because it’s so cute.
“Having pictures of me with Oscar makes it easier for women to strike up a conversation, because immediately there’s something to talk about.
“It’s great because women approach me now. They always start off talking about Oscar and say things like, ‘Your dog is so cute.’ Some even say he’s the best-looking dog they’ve ever seen.
“I don’t get half as many compliments as Oscar.”
Including Oscar on his profile pictures also helps Dom to sort out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to dating.
He said: “It’s a good way to find out if a woman is into dogs or not as, if they’re not, I doubt they’d match with me.
“And, if after one date, I sussed that someone really wasn’t into animals, it would be a bit of a deal breaker for me.”
Dom, who says the longest he has been apart from Oscar was for five nights in New York, even claims women have asked if he can bring his four-legged friend along on dates.
He laughed: “At first I agreed, but then I found they were more concerned about Oscar and how he was getting on than about getting to know me.
“Nowadays I won’t take Oscar on the date unless we’re going for a dog walk.”
Still, Dom, who usually goes on two dates a month, admits he enjoys feeling something of a “sensation” since getting Oscar.
“As soon as I started taking Oscar out for walks, I was the centre of attention,” he said. “I felt as though I’d been reborn as David Beckham.
“Mothers, grandmas – anyone young or old – wanted to talk to me because of Oscar
“Men are definitely much more approachable with a dog.
“Let’s face it, if I went walking up to a stranger in a park without a dog on a lead then I’d look weird – but with a dog as cute as Oscar, everyone wants to have a chat.”
And, despite his newfound dating prowess, Dom, who did not have pets growing up, is quite happy, for now, to remain as “one man and his dog.”
He said: “I would love a girlfriend one day, but, because I’m so sorted – I’ve got my own flat, I’m a business owner and I have emotional support from Oscar – I don’t feel like I’m in a real rush to find one immediately.
“Right now, I’m happy with Oscar. I already have unconditional love from my pet and he’ll always be there waiting for me by the front door.
“So, unless a woman is going to really add to my life, I don’t need to entertain her just for the sake of it.
“But I’d love for Oscar to have a playmate, a little brother or sister puppy – and one day, if I do ever find a girlfriend, he’ll have a step-mum too.”
Laura Campanella, styling director and grooming expert at Groomarts says a survey of their customers found that 42 per cent of women are more impressed by someone with a dog.
She said of dating profiles: “A tongue in cheek photo with your dog is the perfect icebreaker.
“Seeing a potential match pictured with their pooch can indicate a high level of commitment and caring.
“Keeping their dog lovingly groomed, maintained and good looking shows that an owner takes pride in their dogs’ appearance and are also concerned with their overall health and wellbeing, as regular visits to the groomers can also help with overall physical health. ”
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