Back when I regularly worked a library service desk, I would often encounter children interested in animals. Sometimes, these children would be guided by parents who were teaching them how to research the appropriateness of a specific pet. Perhaps they were looking to get a dog and were trying to determine the right breed. Or maybe a little boy wanted a horse and his mom wanted him to discover on his own why the purchase would be impractical. These reference inquiries always interested me because it always struck me as a really cool way for a parent to approach a problem. Not only do kids get to learn about the pet of interest, they also get to actively participate in meaningful research.
Rightpet is the kind of resource that I wish had existed at that time. In fact, I find it hard to believe that such a thing took this long to become fully realized. The premise is pretty simple: gather the information of thousands (perhaps millions) of people and put it to work to build a comprehensive pet compatibility resource. Each user takes a personality profile, which is then compared to their experiences with the pets they’ve owned. From enough of that kind of data, a reliable pet compatibility score can eventually be generated. Kind of cool, eh?
So, for example, Julie goes to the library with her dad to figure out what kind of dog would be best suited to being her best friend for the next decade. As a librarian, I can point her to the dog books in the pet section or I can sit her down in front of a computer and deliver data that is better tailored to her inquiry. She’ll fill out her profile and will look through the database at every kind of dog she can imagine. By the end of her search, she may find that a chihuahua, contrary to her early opinions, is not exactly the dog that fits best with her. Instead, she may discover that a Chihuahua/Miniature Schnauzer mix offers the right degree of cuteness and emotional stability she’s looking for in an animal.
This site isn’t geared specifically toward children. In fact, it might be a bit complex for young ones. For families, though, it’s on its way to becoming a top notch resource. All it needs is data. If you get a chance, check it out. Fill out the profile, review a pet or two, and do your part in fleshing out this incredibly useful tool. And, at present, there are no ads and nothing for sale, which makes it a pretty safe resource to add to your institution’s selected websites. Maybe your dog will get to be as famous as mine; Max hasn’t been the same since she was named “Featured” chihuahua.