Side By Side With a Real Trooper
Elizabeth Catherine Wessel is definitely a love-me-love-my-dog person. So she couldn’t be happier when Trooper upstaged her in February 2017 after Matthew Stephen Ross spotted their photo on the dating app Hinge.
“That’s not even fair how cute she is,” messaged Mr. Ross, smitten with Trooper, her Cavapoo, in all her Muppet-like glory.
Mr. Ross, 33, a product manager in Manhattan for video ads at Google, graduated from University of California, Los Angeles, and received an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan.
“His profile was full of witty comments that made me laugh,” said Ms. Wessel, 31, the chief executive and a founder of WayUp, a Manhattan-based venture-backed technology start-up company that helps underrepresented minority candidates find jobs and start their careers. She graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania.
Ms. Wessel, who goes by Liz, and typically clocked in 16-hour work days back then, got right to the point. “I work a lot of hours,” she said. “Here’s my number. I don’t like texting. Why don’t we just grab a drink.”
Mr. Ross suggested they meet at a Midtown jazz club in Manhattan the day after Valentine’s Day. She was determined to meet him no matter what, and alerting him ahead of time, showed up with a bout of food poisoning.
“What’s your favorite Disney movie,” he asked about 30 minutes into the date, but at that moment she had to excuse herself from the table.
“I thought maybe I shouldn’t ask about Disney movies,” he said with a laugh.
When she returned, she announced she felt sick and had to leave, which he thought might have been a handy excuse, but minutes later she texted him.
“Flubber,” she said during the cab ride home to Chelsea, and thanked him for the half drink before her stomach gave in.
Within the week they met at a downtown jazz bar, and the next weekend for brunch, with Trooper, at Cafe Mogador in the East Village.
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“We spoke about natural language processing in technology, and all kinds of geeky tech stuff,” she said.
They walked around Tompkins Square Park, and later, after he walked her home, they had their first kiss. (He lived on the Lower East Side).
They began dating regularly, and Trooper soon accompanied him to work, and when Mr. Ross joined Google in 2019 she became a Doogler, an official employee dog. In October 2018, Mr. Ross had moved in with them, and a month later they got a bigger place nearby.
On Oct. 19, 2019, he proposed on the way to the Halloween Dog Festival in Bushwick, Brooklyn. They went as a lion (Trooper), tiger (Ms. Wessel) and bear (Mr. Ross) from “The Wizard of Oz.” As Mr. Ross led them through Bushwick Inlet Park, a trumpeter he had hired, approached playing “La Vie en Rose.” Mr. Ross then got down on one knee.
“‘Let’s call our parents,’” he recalled her then saying, but he insisted they first go to the dog festival. Waiting inside were their parents — his from Calabasas, Calif., and hers from Manhattan and Westchester — also dressed as Oz characters.
They planned to get married in May 2020 at Rivermere on the Hudson, an event space in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., with 250 guests, but when Covid hit they postponed their plans, and hit the road.
“We wanted to make it the best year we could,” he said.
They gave up their apartment, flew to Los Angeles to pick up a Mazda S.U.V. they bought, and then spent seven months at various Airbnbs — in Sedona, Ariz.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Boulder, Colo.; Nashville; Tycee Island, Ga.; and Charleston, S.C.
“Trooper barked at coyotes in Santa Fe and javelina huge pigs in Sedona,” she said. “She went on every single hike with us,” and then they got a short-term rental back in Manhattan.
On Sept. 5, Rabbi Shmuel Lynn officiated before 150 vaccinated and tested guests, at the Angel Orensanz Foundation, an event space on Manhattan’s Lower East Side,where the flower girl threw white petals as she walked down the aisle with Trooper on a gold leash.