An occasional survey of jobs both unusual and extraordinary, and the people who make them happen.
The national debate on gay marriage has challenged a number of institutions in 21st century America, from churches to municipal governments, from caterers to wedding photographers.
Also affected is the business of Lonnie “Luv” Campbell, a 33-year old “Pet Matchmaker” in the Southside’s Miller Well district.
“I think we all thrive on different kinds of love,” opines the blonde and blue-eyed Campbell , “Parental love, love of siblings, the love of close friends. But we all need romantic love in our lives, and our pets are no different.”
Since 2003, Campbell has played cupid for fidos and fifis around the city. Her services are available by private consultation, but she doesn’t limit herself to what she calls “just Doggy Dating.”
“I don’t discriminate,” adds Campbell, “I match cats, hamsters, canaries, iguanas, even spiders and snakes.” Campbell also doesn’t discriminate against a pet’s, er, preferences.
“When animals are kept as pets, their environment is shaped by the people around them. They eat human food, they keep human hours, they live in human homes and sometimes they learn to love the way that humans do.”
Campbell points to her own pair of matched tomcats, Fortinbras and Rimbaud, happily “married” since last year.
“My job is to help pet owners provide for all their pets’ needs, including their need to love and be loved,” explains Campbell as she gives us a tour of her photo wall, where literally dozens upon dozen of happy pet pictures describe a testament to her success in building lasting relationships in the tail-wagging set. “And if that means two cats or dogs of the same gender being matched, then who am I to say differently?”
Do only gay owners have gay pets? “Absolutely not,” Campbell laughs, “I have to admit, it’s made more than a few straight couples and small families uncomfortable at first to admit that their dog or cat might be gay, but I’ve found in the long run that it helps promote tolerance and understanding.”
“Not just among animals, among people too” she adds.
The cats are the only same-sex pairing among Campbell’s many pets, which include two “devoted” house rabbits, a pit bull terrier named “Malone” and his Lhasa Apso bride “Susan,” a quartet of polyamorous finches and a ferret named “Jingles” whom Campbell describes as “Still looking.”
- Jon Morris