When Dogs Play Cupid: 3 Couples Who Fell in Love Thanks to Their Furry Friends

These couples skipped the dating apps and found each other with a little help from their pups

sarah and derek douglass
Photo: Nikos Frazier/Journal & Courier/Imagn

PEOPLE's first-ever Love Issue is filled with heart-warming stories about humans falling in love, being in love, and staying in love — but there are some pawprints between the pages too.

Turns out animals, especially pets, can be pretty good matchmakers when you let them have a say in your dating life. The three couples below all found their perfect partners with some assistance from their canine companions.

Read on to see the sweet ways your furry best friend might be able to lend a paw when it comes to the search for your soul mate.

For more inspiring love stories, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now, or subscribe here.

Sarah and Derek Douglass and Rosco

love issue pets - derek and sarah douglass
Courtesy Havas PR

In March 2018, Sarah Trueb read a story on People.com about Derek Douglass, an electronics technician with drug-resistant epilepsy, who found relief thanks to his service dog Rosco and happened to live near her in Lafayette, Indiana. Living with drug-resistant epilepsy herself and looking to build a supportive community, Sarah, 36, reached out to Derek to learn more about him and his golden retriever.

Derek, 46, explained more about how service dogs like Rosco can be specially trained to use a magnet collar to activate an epilepsy patient's implanted medical device to help stop seizures. He also invited Sarah to one of Rosco's vet appointments. A friendship quickly formed between the humans, and within three months the pair began dating.

"He actually used Rosco to ask me out," recalls Sarah. "He said, 'Hey Rosco would like to take you out to dinner.'"

In November, the couple married in a small ceremony, with Rosco standing by.

"Our relationship grew because of Rosco," says Derek.

Chris and Mariesa Hughes and Their Rescues

love issue pets - Mr Mo Project
Courtesy Mariesa and Chris Hughes

In 2010, at 24, Chris Hughes had a "mid-midlife crisis" and quit his job working in a hotel and moved from Washington, D.C., back home to Avon, Ohio, to start his own animal rescue. Rowdy to the Rescue, the rescue's Facebook page, quickly developed a fan base.

"A friend of Mariesa's messaged me and told me I should meet her," recalls Chris, now 34.

At the time Mariesa, now 40, was working as an occupational therapist while fostering greyhounds and caring for two other rescue pooches in Clifton Park, N.Y.

"I loved him immediately," says Mariesa of their first face-to-face meeting. "He's just the kindest, gentlest giant."

In 2014, a year after they were married, the couple co-founded the Mr. Mo Project, a nonprofit (named after Moses, a beloved pit bull) dedicated to finding homes and paying medical bills for senior and disabled dogs. Currently, they're caring for 19 dogs in their home.

"Everybody says there's one person in the world for you," says Chris. "We were made to be together to save dogs' lives."

Hana Kim, Jared Brickman and Aslan

love issue pets - Hana Kim and Jared
Courtesy Hana Kim

When Hana Kim signed on to foster a pup from the Pullman, Washington chapter of Guide Dogs for the Blind in 2014, she knew her time with Amarillo, a yellow Lab, would be temporary. Volunteers typically help the dogs learn socialization skills and basic obedience, then the pups are assigned as service animals or — if they don't meet the requirements — adopted out.

After Amarillo found his forever home, Kim continued to attend weekly meetings at Guide Dogs for the Blind, where she got to know Aslan, Amarillo's littermate, who, after showing signs of cataracts, had been adopted out to Jared Brickman.

Still missing Amarillo, Kim asked Brickman if she could join him and Aslan for a walk. Brickman, now 31, and working in communications, was immediately touched by her warmth.

"She was just so extroverted and bubbly," he says.

That walk led to many others, and last year Brickman proposed outside a cabin overlooking Mouth Hood, as Aslan and the couple's other dogs — Gumbo, a retriever mix, and Maple, a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever — looked on.

"Jared is my rock, he always supports me," says Kim, 26, who is currently completing her nursing degree. "Aslan will be our ring bearer."

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