Swipe Right if You Like My Mutt!


Swipe Right if You Like My Mutt!

Illustration: Akshita Monga

There’s something up with animals and Tinder.  

As I scan for prospects on a slow weekend, I am repeatedly offered photos of men posing with a variety of animals. What are these men posing with parakeets and tigers trying to say? Don’t look at me, look at this tiger in a Thailand pool whose butt I’m caressing? Or here is a kangaroo I’m sitting with in potty pose because hey… I can? Or I think I’ll let my cat’s testicles photobomb me here, because it will make you want me so bad?

Did you know that one in 10 profiles on Tinder apparently feature a selfie with a tiger? Why is everyone suddenly so hell-bent on cuddling, caressing, or smooching animals? I miss the old days when the average Tinder selfie would be of a person against a breathtaking view of Parvati Valley, standing like The Rock with blingy Ray-Ban shades, or posing in front of his gym mirrors, biceps gingerly flexed.

I’m not even trying to figure whether these gents are showing solidarity with “Dicks Out for Harambe”, or just assuming that the easiest way into a girl’s pants is by standing with a fierce gorilla buddy, their photos accompanied by obtuse captions like “Veni Vidi Vici”.

In the TV show F.R.I.E.N.D.S., Joey and Chandler try to pick up girls by carrying Ross’s baby into town. This cuteness-by-proxy is actually an old technique, now just transferred to the digital swamp. These guys would instead do so much better to memorise that golden rule of actors everywhere: Share screen time with a pet or an infant, and you’ll always lose.

Dogs seem to bring out the worst in these maniacs. Meet Dogfather, a dude I swiped right on who had just one word on his profile: #AnimalLover.

The fundamental danger of using animals as a connector is that the cuteness factor of puppies or ponies can make sex with their human owners less of a priority. Like the dude I agreed to go home with, but from the start was more interested in meeting his “little baby” golden retriever than getting it on with him. (A little like the time the guy with a Gibson les Paul asked me up to his soundproof room. He had sex on his mind, but I only had the guitar on mine.)

But the high chance of no sex is not even the main issue as much as guys using animals and birds on Tinder seem to be plain cuckoo. Take Mayukh, for instance. His profile photo was a collage of different flocks of pigeons, but as he informed my friend Santana, pigeons are only one of his many life interests. “Hi doll. U must have realised I like birds. I like bird watching too ;)” Another long-suffering friend, Anita K, had to endure ten minutes of a guy telling her how his penis closely resembled the elephant he was standing next to in Kaziranga National Park.

Dogs seem to bring out the worst in these maniacs. Meet Dogfather, a dude I swiped right on who had just one word on his profile: #AnimalLover. Hey, I like pets too. From the very first to the fourth beer, bro talked about his little baby dog. It seemed cute enough. But when we entered his flat, all I could notice was the overpowering stench. It was dog pee and poop that had been lying around. For days. A mangy and miserable dog was tied up and howling on the balcony outside. When I asked, the guy just shrugged and said it was his flat mate’s dog, so not his problem. And then invited me for a make-out session.

Like so much else, Tinder animals turn out to be a young-adult genre of our time. In Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, a human is always shadowed by his animal counterpart – his daemon – and if the two are ever torn apart, their souls rot. If Pullman had had the foresight of dating apps, his people would have swiped based on the magnificence of a snow leopard daemon, or the charm of a macaw with purple plumage.

Thankfully, though, we’re adults on Tinder. So to the otherwise-cute guy who feels the need to morph his face with a filter that adds dog-ears, whiskers and a Goofy-tongue, this is what I have to say: You do not need this pre-pubescent shit to get laid, dude. I am on Tinder because I might potentially have sex with you. But now I won’t, because you seem like a character out of a sci-fi book I have loved, and it’s just too freaky. Please won’t you show your real face, and we can get on with showing other things to each other?

Sometimes the animals themselves are a grotesque miss, like the guy holding an upside down shark. My friend Anahita used to think I was being a fusspot, until she herself stumbled upon a flurry of dudes linking arms and posing with a gorilla statue on Kolkata Tinder. At least now she admits there’s something freaky about the need to have a furry friend on your profile.

But while the women are clear on their verdict on this trend, the men hold out hope. They look upon women with dog pics as some sort of a cute moment waiting to happen. Like my friend Arjun: “Yaar, koi bhi match nahi karta, kya bataoon. So I just look at girls with puppies and do lots of wishful thinking. Shayad 101 Dalmatians wala scene ho jayega.”

But I’m not there yet. I don’t believe I will find my meet cute moment while getting my dog laid but I did find a Tinder profile of an eager-looking Shiba Inu spitz dog. The guy had written underneath: “If you’re into bad boys swipe left, because I’m a good boy.” I laughed.

But I did not swipe right.