This isn't your usual candidate on a dating reality television show. But Qi Qi is well-prepared. He's wearing a tuxedo and shades. He is waiting to meet his soul mate. Three-year-old Qi Qi is a Bichon Frise living in China. He is filming the TV program called Feichong Wurao, a dating program designed for dogs. The name of the program is a play on Jiangsu TV's popular matchmaking reality show Feicheng Wurao, which translates to, "If You Are the One."
Qi Qi, one of four male Bichons, is free to choose one lover from the eight female Bichons on stage. To be more accurate, the choice is made by Tang Xiaomin, Qi Qi's owner. "I liked one of the female Bichons but she wasn't fond of us," said Tang, somewhat mystified. Tang, a 33-year-old housewife in Jiangsu Province, has given a lot of thought to Qi Qi's first-ever breeding session. She wants to find a purebred Bichon female for him of a proper size, age and appearance. "I plan to have Qi Qi meet more dogs before we settle on the best one," she said. "I believe there is chemistry between two dogs, just like with human beings."
China's increasing number of pet owners has fueled a fast-growing pet services industry. This includes Internet-based pet dating and socializing. The proud dog owners seek to pass on their companions' good genes to the next generation.
Sun Yan, CEO of the app Smellme, a pet socializing platform that provides services such as pet profile postings and training information, recently designed a section for matchmaking. More than 300,000 users have registered their pets on the online community. There, they share their pets' photos and videos and interact with each other.
Sun was inspired to create the dating feature from personal experience. When his Beagle, Babe, was old enough to have her first litter, he posted an online notice seeking a mate but waited for half a year to find one. "I hope our fur friends won't have to wait too long for Mr Right," said Sun. Smellme allows users to locate other pets in the same city.
Some dog owners who have very specific requirements or high standards for their chosen breed can now expand the pool of potential mates, possibly by flying to other cities. Additionally, some pet owners in China are starting to have DNA screenings of dogs. This will be helpful in preventing dogs from suffering hereditary and genetic diseases.
Hopefully Babe the Beagle was presented with a rose, just like on the Bachelor!
Note: The Bichon we have pictured is actually customer photo of Cooper, submitted by Vicky. Sorry, ladies. Cooper is already taken by Miss Belinda Belle Brewer, a Yorkie.