Several years ago, Sheryl Matthys noticed that it was much easier to meet people when accompanied by her 11-and-a-half-year-old greyhound, Shiraz. These conversations with other dog lovers during her walks on the streets of New York led her to start a series of “Leashes and Lovers” events that she has been hosting since 2003 all over Manhattan.
Word travels around the dog community fast, and pretty soon Matthys had a website (leashesandlovers.com) with an online community connecting dog lovers from all over the country.
Matthys also started hearing great stories about how pets had affected owners’ relationships, in both good and bad ways. She started recording these stories and, three years ago, realized she had enough material to write a book.
Leashes and Lovers: What Your Dog Can Teach You About Love, Life, and Happiness (Leashes and Lovers L and L Media, $19.95), discusses the many ways in which dogs and other pets can affect human relationships, from friendships to dating.
“It’s all about starting new relationships and rekindling old ones,” Matthys said. “Dogs can help us do both.”
The book launched March 31, and Matthys held a special event at the venue BLVD on Bowery to mark the occasion. Raffle proceeds were donated to the American Humane Association.
Matthys also announced a new partnership with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a coalition of rescue groups and shelters that is working with Animal Care & Control of New York City to move city shelters toward a no-kill policy. Leashes and Lovers events during the spring and summer will feature dogs available for adoption, through the Mayor’s Alliance.
Matthys said one of the surprising things she discovered through her work is that little dogs aren’t always the best city dogs.
“It’s not about the size of the dog in the city. Great Danes and Mastiffs are great. Greyhounds are perfect apartment dogs,” Matthys said. “They are low maintenance and not high energy.”