Chris van der Oord found true love in the pages of his local newspaper.
It wasn't so much a personal ad, but rather a review for a coffee shop that had opened near where he lived in Amsterdam. Beyond a good cup of coffee, it mentioned an irresistible reason to visit: a charming puppy named Igor was often seen idling about the place.
"Since I'm really fond of dogs and coffee, I thought, well, why not check it out?" he told MNN.
But on his first visit, back in August 2013, van der Oord didn't see the puppy. So he pulled aside the cafe owner, Hanna, and popped the question:
"In the review, they mention this lovely little puppy," he said. "Where is he?"
It turned out, Igor was sleeping.
So patient van der Oord ordered another cup of coffee and picked up the newspaper. And when the puppy finally woke up, van der Oord got the natural sweetener he was looking for.
"He was a very clumsy, lovely little puppy," he recalls.
Van der Oord began frequenting the place, where he sipped coffee, read the paper and forged a potent bond with Igor. Until, one day, the coffee shop unexpectedly closed.
Fortunately, van der Oord had kept the owner's business card.
"We started texting and I said, ‘I really want to meet Igor — and you, of course'," he says. "Because I got to like her, too."
"We made a couple of appointments in the park, and we walked Igor together. Out of that, a relationship grew. (With Hanna, of course.)
But when the relationship ended a year later, van der Oord realized the hole in his heart was shaped like an English spaniel.
"I realized I missed Igor more than I missed Hanna."
Looking for a spaniel around every corner
Unable to get in touch with Hanna, van der Oord was left to wander the streets, a pale ghost, ever-aching for his beloved Igor.
"Every time I saw a black-and-white English spaniel, I would ask. I would jump off a bike. I would start start running. Whatever. I was always trying to find Igor," he recalls.
And he had a gnawing sense that Hanna wasn't giving Igor the care he so richly deserved.
"I was worried about him," he says. "I thought she's not the person to really take care of this dog. I was afraid that she either would neglect him or that she would pass him off to someone else who wouldn't take care of him either."
After three years without a trace of Igor, van der Oord was ready to give up the search.
But last May, while walking home from the supermarket, van der Ooort made a detour to a local dog park. He just wanted to pass by. You know ... just in case.
He saw a woman with an English spaniel. Could it be?
"And there I met Igor," van der Oort declares, flashing a wide grin at the memory.
"I met him and he recognized me."
More than that, Igor leapt into his old friend's arms.
It turned out Hanna had given the dog to someone else — someone who loved him and took special care of him.
"He was just visiting Amsterdam," van der Oord explains. "He's living in another city close by. I didn't meet him again. But I have her phone number. So I can call her and then I can meet Igor again."
And from there, who knows? Perhaps he'll have a cup of coffee with the woman ...
Alas, it turns out the new owner is married, so as van der Oord explains, there's "no option of dating Igor's new mother."