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Fixing People Up With Dogs
Special to the Jewish Week
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Sarah Oren might be the only matchmaker who gets a kick out of setting guys up with dogs. But it’s part of her job. Ever since her family adopted a shelter dog when she was five, she’s been interested in dog adoption. Calling herself the dog matchmaker, she’s helped 40 dogs find homes with those seeking man’s best friend.

“I think dogs are easier to match than people,” she said.

Oren, 26, helped to organize an adoption show in June at 168 Bowery. The event showcased puppies and adult dogs under 40 pounds that will be euthanized if they didn’t find homes.

“With these dogs, it’s very sad because there is nothing wrong with them, it’s just that there’s no space for them in the shelters,” Oren said. “Sometimes the owner loses his job, gets sick or passes away.”

The Park Slope, Brooklyn, resident gets a thrill out of helping people find a suitable dog. She is now married, but when she had a profile on JDate, she wrote that she needed a man who loved dogs.

“It was definitely a pre-requisite,” she said.

Oren, who said she hasn’t heard of any other dog matchmakers, visited the Jerusalem Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Animals two years ago, and found inspiration.

“It’s an open air-shelter and a really special facility,” she said, adding that there are hundreds of dogs there.”

Oren got her dog Ozzie, a black lab mix, from a shelter in North Carolina. She’s currently filming a web series, “The Dog Matchmaker,” which will follow her as she sets up adoption events and talks with people about what they are looking for in a dog.

Oren designed a questionnaire to assess people’s preferences in a dog. It also assesses the home, including whether there are children and how many hours a day the potential owner is available. Once she makes an assessment, Oren directs potential adopters to shelters or adoption events. Like a human matchmaker who knows a lot of singles, Oren also can recommend individuals dogs who are out there looking for love.

“It’s really a labor of love,” she said. “A lot of people think that if you live in New York City, you can’t have a dog because the apartment is too small or because you don’t have a yard. But often, there is enough space and there are parks nearby. In a room of five people, I’d say there’s a good chance that three of them would be interested in getting a dog but thought it wasn’t a possibility or didn’t know how to go about it.”

“People need to keep an open mind,” she said. “Sometimes a specific dog might not be available but then it will be available a month later. I have my finger on the pulse on what kind of dogs are available.”

The SUNY Binghamton graduate works with rescue groups and serves as a liaison to shelters that hold events. She charges anywhere between $50 to $200, and the actual adoption can cost anywhere between $80 and $500.

With an increase in the number of available dog-walkers in recent years, many people who hesitated to get dogs because of work schedules are more likely to do so, she says.

Oren has one strict rule. She doesn’t support breeders because it results in dogs being euthanized. That means she’ll only work with people who are looking to adopt a dog as a pet, not for breeding purposes.

She is seeking nonprofit status for her organization, FosterDogs NYC. She also has a master’s degree in elementary education and works as a substitute teacher.

Having a dog is a responsibility but it brings rewards, she stresses. “People don’t realize that having a constant companion can be so easy and so rewarding.”

See Oren’s website at

Last Update:

12/16/2013 - 17:44
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I respect Jeff, he is a good guy but I view the issue a little differently. Though loneliness is unpleasant, individuals are still able to care for themselves. A pet often requires assistance, otherwise it is likely to experience displeasure or suffering. Obviously not all animals are in this category, but I feel dogs do and I think it is beneficial to be able to assist another living object and to attain the emotional benefits of the companionship and comfort from them. I feel marriage is a major decision in life that, for some, isn't appropriate, or perhaps may be so much later in life when they have the fiscal resources and the greater emotional confidence to be charged with assisting and perhaps taking care of another person. There should not be displeasure in avoiding foreseeable problems that one anticipates to occur for themselves when interacting with others, and perhaps a pet companion can be a positive aspect in life.

Isn't our "bonding" and commitment to community what we do in our synagogues and temples? Friday night services are fun and we get huge friendships from Torah study on Sat. We Jews have a wealth of support and community and we have some really interesting people like this lady. I'm moving to Brooklyn in a couple of years and I can't wait to help walk her dogs, or those of her clients. I could use the exercise.

This is what is marriage and unconditional embrace/commitment to a PERSON.

Won't we be this compassionate about, have as much of an open mind for, and labor and sacrifice this much for another HUMAN life in need (a date, a spouse, a family member, someone in our community)?

What does "dog matchmaking" indicate about our generation's level of fear, strength, and maturity; as well as our values and priorities?

It seems Mrs. Oren's efforts and resources are prioritizing stray animals over "stray" (re: single) PEOPLE. There are already too many single PEOPLE who are suffering and whose life potential is constrained by being alone (and/or with dog).

We should be working on strengthening and "bringing people up" to better prepare ourselves for marriage and "growing" human relationships, not on spending our chesed and time on some animal or other "object of distraction/escape" (similar to the "golden calf" fiasco).

What would Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Sarah, Rivka, and Leah say to "dog matchmaking" after all of their sacrifices made for us?

This also sounds like Purim... everything seems "upside-down":
"We live in a society where the absurd (commitment to a dog) is seen as normal, and where normal (commitment to a person) is seen as absurd."

Remember how much the egyptians loved/worshiped their animals - they even made special burials and sarcophagi for them. How did that work for them?

G-d help the future of the Jewish people - may we bond and be strengthened!

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