A few weeks ago, I got a facebook message from an owner of two Bernese Mountain Dogs who wanted to meet my Bernese Mountain Dog, Ilya. That led to a meet-up at East End Beach that ended in two new facebook friends and an exchange of numbers for future dog hangouts.

Then yesterday, I met a fluffy as hell four-month-old Berner (along with his humans) who played and romped around with my year-and-a-half Berner like they were long lost siblings.

This got me thinking: dogs are by far the easiest way to bond with strangers. But they're usually chance meetings on the beach or along the sidewalk, where you seem a little overeager if you ask for their number right then and there. When I lived in Boston, I knew of a facebook group called "Berners of Boston" that hosted all sorts of anecdotes, pictures, questions, and plans for giant meetups at the park. Imagine a sea of dogs that look identical, romping all fluffily around together. There's something magical about it.

After checking facebook for an existing Maine Berners group and finding nothing, I started a group and added the two friends I knew to it. Then I searched #maineberners, #mainebmd, and #bmdsofmaine to find others to reach out to. Somehow, people aren't the least bit weirded out when you compliment their choice in dog breed and offer a forum to connect with like-minded owners. Moral of the story: find friends for your dog, and the humans will follow.