Finally, Dating Apps For Single Pet Parents
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Sisters Leigh and Casey Isaacson had one mission when they started their dog-lovers dating app, Digopens in a new tab: separate the true dog lovers from the imposters. Three years and 100,000 users later, it’s clear their “must love dogs” mandate has been successful in attracting single pet parents to the app. Dig was so popular that they crossed the aisle to work with cat lovers for their new app, Tabbyopens in a new tab. We caught up with Leigh to talk about how she found out dog people want a dating app, while cat people need one.
First, I gotta ask, are you a cat person or a dog person?
Oh, I’m more of a dog person. But I can explain it: We started Dig before we started Tabby, on Valentine’s Day in 2018. It was inspired by my sister [co-founder, Casey Isaacson] who was dating a guy who tried to be a dog person for her. But by the end of the relationship, he was putting towels down on the couch so that the dog didn’t touch anything. He did not want that dog in his apartment. Casey said to me, “I wish I knew from the start that this wasn’t going to work because of my dog.” But what we learned over time was that while dog people really wanted their own dating app, cat people needed their own dating app.
So this experience led both you and your sister to want to help animal lovers everywhere?
Yes. Our hypothesis from the beginning was we want to help people fall in love, and we really believe that it’s going to benefit the animals in the long run. The idea is, you find two people who care so much about love in general — which is why they’ve brought animals into their homes — or are looking to do so in the future.
Love is the gateway drug to love?
Absolutely. If you’re going into it with that, you’re already bringing more of your human self. You’re talking about your dog or cat, but it’s more about who you really are — the things that matter to you. By talking about your animals, you’re talking about how you spend your money, how you spend your time, how clean you keep your house, how often you travel, etc. You can funnel those basic conversation starters through something you already love. And that helps people connect with you on a real level.
Dig was created to help connect true dog lovers and weed out the fakers, but there are non-dog owners on the app, so how would you spot a true dog lover from a wannabe dog lover?
Well, if you don’t identify as a dog person, you’re probably not going to go on Dig. But if you’re an aspiring dog person, that’s where the story gets a little iffy. A third of our users don’t have a dog yet — they want to date someone with a dog. But it’s still about compatibility: a dog owner in New York City might have a Chihuahua who fits in their purse, while a dog owner in Louisiana might have a Lab who jumps in the back of their pickup truck. So the work is not done when you get on Dig.
Does this thinking apply to cat lovers too? I feel like there are cat lovers and non-cat lovers, but less people who aspire to love cats.
I would have said that sounded true early on in the Tabby process. But the reason dog people hear that narrative is because people are so guarded about the idea of wanting to be a cat person. That’s why you hear cat lovers describing their cats as being like dogs. But the conversation around becoming a cat person is changing. And a big part of that is because we’re seeing more millennial pet parents who are more visible with their cat love.
You’ll have to forgive my next question for being so gossipy, but is it true that Casey met her boyfriend on Dig?
Yes! [Laughs] All right, shut the apps down. We’re fine, we did it. They’re in Paris meeting his family because he’s from France. But he works in New Jersey and was on Dig every morning on the train. He loved Layla [Casey’s dog] and he didn’t have his own dog, but it was very Tom from Myspace. She was like, “Oh, great, I’ve created my dream dating app. But I’m one of the co-founders and every guy I talk to is like, ‘What do you do?’ And I’m like, ‘I run this app.’”
So, what’s next for Dig and Tabby?
We recently launched a complete new look for both apps. We’re focusing on growth within the US before going anywhere else. And we get questions all the time about which animal we’re going to do next: bird, horse?
A horse app?!
It would be great because instead of swipe left or right, we could do Hay or Neigh [laughs]. But we’re not doing it because we have to have people on board who connect with that community. Because a bad dating app isn’t just bad business, it’s harmful to daters. So, if you know any potential bird team members…
Rebecca Caplan is a writer based in Brooklyn whose work has been featured in The New Yorker, Reductress, and Vulture. She lives in Brooklyn with her perfect, toothless dog Moose.