It's no secret that the coasts have long seemed intent to leave Chicago in their respective wakes, and one area we probably didn't even know we were lagging in is social networking sites for dogs.
New York just got matchpuppy.com, which is currently still in beta and has been described as the "OKCupid for dogs." It's the Manhattanite equivalent of San Francisco's spotwag.com. To clarify, these are both sites that allow non-furry mammals to set up play dates for their non-furry companions. Both sites are startups, which made me wonder why Chicago doesn't have a similar service here. There are Meetups and sites that let you drop your dogs off somewhere, but those aren't really the same thing.
These are sites that let you find people you can trust with animals you can trust your dogs with. Does Chicago even need this sort of thing? What advantages might it bring to other markets in town if we had it?
"Since Chicago does have some terrific dog parks and dog-friendly beaches, this social networking could blossom into a group of people that get together in pairs or in larger groups." said Amy Robinson, who back in 1991 started A Dog's Life, both one of the nation's and Chicago's first doggy day care centers. "Socializing benefits dogs of all ages, although not every dog is ready for it."
However, Jim Snediker, the co-founder of Chicago web-based startup and leftoftrend.com and the owner of a nine-month-old puppy says "there is really [not] any type of business that Chicago would not be 'ready' for." Snediker spent a chunk of time on both sites and says he feels "this is kind of a superfluous app that may not have any real, useful functionality… most people [in Chicago] walk their dogs when it is convenient to their schedule, and due to the amount of parks available, as well as people that own dogs, there is never really a shortage of friends your pup can play with when you're out and about."
Snediker also added that non-walking cities like LA or Cincinnati would be a better fit for this service, but he "can't see it catching on in Chicago.
I see his point.
Maybe Chicago is ready, but maybe this is also filling a need nobody really has.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.