(Posted originally on The Dog Diet, July 14th, 2009.)
Sadie and I sold our large house right in the center of Charleston over a year ago now. There really was no pressing reason to do so except that I had a poster with a message that haunted me for months. The poster was a scene of an ocean sunset with the scripted words...."Sometimes it is time to depart even when there is no certain place to go." So believing this was a sign for us to head to the coast, in a quick process and a down market, we sold the house at a decent profit to a government agency and moved into a friend's condo temporarily.
Thus the search began to find a place that would be suitable for both Sadie and me while we decided what to do next and that was no easy task. Reading the rentals in the newspaper and checking Craig's List became a daily obsession. Finding a vacation rental was a lot easier than this ordeal. All the pet friendly properties have a paw print next to the listing, but not so for apartment or house rentals. Overwhelmingly the notation at any decent sounding property was "NO PETS," which I would sadly relay to Sadie.
We found an apartment complex that actually said "Pets Welcome," and eagerly drove out to see it one Saturday. That trip was not only a waste of time as the complex was neglected and had the worst "dog park" I have ever seen, it was an eye opening disappointment. Turns out landlords have a preset notion about dog owners that includes lack of responsibility, lack of money, and lack of common sense. These landlords think they can provide substandard, over-priced properties and desperate dog parents will flock to them. Sadly, they are often right.
I have always been very disturbed when I see the reason listed for a pet being abandoned at the animal shelter as "owner moved." What kind of person would abandon their dog in order to find a place to live? Seems many people are forced to make this very difficult decision, but I knew it would never be me. I'd find a dog house that was big enough for both Sadie and me and would not settle for an unsafe, unclean, or unfriendly abode. As with other major decisions in my life, I prayed about this and began checking the classifieds and Craig's List in other cities....they might be more dog friendly.
We finally found a place here that was promising. It was a very nice condominium whose owner was a dog parent and immediately liked Sadie. The small condo would be perfect for us while we decided if we would stay in West Virginia or head south. It was in a great area for walking and convenient to everything. However, this building's condo board had ridiculous rules that made it impossible for a dog to actually live there. Turns out you had to carry your dog in and out of the building and hold them in your arms on the elevator too. Now Paris Hilton and her handbag hound might be able to manage this, but not me. Sadie is a strong, wriggly; face licking, healthy 30 pounder that would never go for this kind of arrangement. Other landlords had rules that I don't think even the dogs in The Dog Whisperer's pack could obey.
Thus with no clear direction, we began looking for a house to buy, with the help of the best real estate agent in the world, Nadia Hardy. Yep, I had to buy another house so I could live with my dog. After wearing Nadia out with looking at many overpriced houses that lacked the mandatory basic dog amenities such as a yard, I did the unthinkable and decided to look at a house nine miles out of the city. Mind you, I had walked a block and a half to work for 13 years then operated my own practice out of my home for almost three years. Commuting seemed impossible to me as I barely made it to work on time when all I had to do was walk down the stairs.
It was a rainy November day when we made the trek out to the house that looked interesting in the listing. The open house wasn't going to be until later hat day, but I wanted to at least see the exterior first and get Sadie's opinion. As we drove up the long and what seemed a very steep road, my mind kept telling me this too was a waste of time and how desperate was I becoming to even consider such a plan. And then the house appeared.
It was the last house on the street...a circle driveway...looking neglected and lonely...but like a once majestic woodland retreat...it was perfect. Sadie and I bounded out of the Jeep and walked through the carport to the yard on the other side of the house. I immediately noticed it was fenced and it was huge! I let Sadie off her leash and she ran around the yard in obvious delight. I slipped and fell on the wet leaves and she jumped on my and licked my face excitedly as I said..."Mommy doesn't even care if the house is a rat hole inside...if I can buy it for you just for this yard...I will."
Lucky for us it was not and now it's home and part of some plan greater than ours that has fulfilled our every need. We planted a garden, installed bird feeders, cleaned, polished, and put our familiar possessions in a new environment...but more than that....we have put down roots deeper than the large trees that surround us. When we drive up the not-so steep street every evening and open our door...we are content in this big dog house that I share with my dog-daughter and no one sets unreasonable rules or tells us our barks or music is too loud. Oh, and Sadie doesn't have to share the city squirrels any more...she has plenty of her own to keep her busy.
And so the old poster is in the new house...the message fulfilled....and duly noted with a notation that simply says..."We did." It was time to depart....we had no certain place to go...but through it all...we are here and we are home.
Causes Patti Lawson Supports
All causes that are kind to people and animals.
The Worthy Project
Animal Legal Defense Fund