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Did You Buy a House With Your Dogs in Mind? I Just Did!

After our co-op building in NYC adopted a restrictive dog policy, we decided to buy a house so that our dogs would be happy and safe.

Sassafras Lowrey  |  Dec 30th 2016


I am a lifelong dog nut. I train dogs as a hobby, have competed in canine sports, and have dog tattoos all over my body, but I might have just outdone myself: My partner and I just bought a house for our two pups. I don’t mean a little plywood doghouse for the backyard. I mean an honest to goodness, three-story home with a mortgage we will be paying for the next 30 years.

We live in New York City, and I had always assumed we would always be apartment people. We liked the convenience of it, and our dogs, Charlotte and Mercury, liked living in our spacious two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, just blocks from the biggest park in the borough.

Operation get a house for the dogs was a success!

Operation get a house for the dogs was a success! (Photo by Sassafras Lowrey)

We had owned the apartment for eight years. It’s in a fantastic location, and when we bought, the building was very dog friendly. It was a great place to live until six months ago, when our co-op board made some significant updates to the “house rules.”

Our building’s dog policy went from being one sentence saying that any breed/size of dog could live in the building to four pages of rules that seemed like they were designed to make living with dogs as miserable as possible. The new rules suggested that all breeds of dogs over 50 pounds should be muzzled when in common areas of the building. Also, if anyone felt uncomfortable with a dog (no incident need to have taken place), they could complain to the board and the dog would need to be removed from the building. Dogs were discouraged from riding with their owners in the elevators, and the board needed to approve all dogs before they would be permitted to live in or even visit the building. 

First thing I did when we got these new rules was panic, then cry, then we started to organize. Our dog-owning neighbors were irritated but not interested in mobilizing. My partner and I lobbied the board, and much to our relief were allowed to rework some of the dog policies. What we end up with is much more restrictive than the previous policy (a huge reason we had initially bought in that building), but it at allowed dogs to use elevators, not be muzzled, and it protected them from being kicked out because they barked once in the lobby or someone didn’t like how they looked.

Although we were able to revise the dog polices, my partner and I were shaken up at the realization of how easy it was for our building to legislate against our furry kids in their own home. So, being complete dog nuts, the only logical thing to do was check our credit, hire a real estate broker, and purchase a house a little farther out in Brooklyn. Top requirements: single-family home with a backyard for the dogs to play in.

Driving the dogs to visit their new house for the first time

Driving the dogs to visit their new house for the first time. (Photo by Sassafras Lowrey)

We saw 14 houses before we found our dream home: close(ish) to the subway, hardwood floors, nicely maintained, and a HUGE (by Brooklyn standards) fenced backyard for our dogs. We were in love with the house and THRILLED when despite two other offers, ours was accepted. It’s been a long couple of months telling the dogs about their new home, but we closed two weeks ago and finally the dogs could go see our new home!

It was snowing when we drove the dogs to the house. One of Charlotte’s favorite things in the world is snow, so not only was she getting to see her very own yard, where she could play off leash (for the first time since she was rescued from the streets ), but she got to frolic in snow! The abandoned soccer ball she found in a corner of the yard was much more exciting than the toys I had carefully packed.

Both dogs are loving the house we bought them — the mortgage is totally worth it. Did you buy a house for your dogs? Please share in the comments.

About the author: Sassafras Lowrey is a straight-edge queer punk who grew up to become the 2013 winner of the Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award. Her books—Kicked Out, Roving Pack, and Leather Ever After—have been honored by organizations ranging from the National Leather Association to the American Library Association.  Her latest novel Lost Boi, a queer/punk retelling of Peter Pan, was released from Arsenal Pulp Press in April 2015.  Sassafras is a certified Trick Dog Instructor, and she assists with dog agility classes. Sassafras lives and writes in Brooklyn with her partner, two dogs of dramatically different sizes, two bossy cats, and a semi-feral kitten. Follow her at www.SassafrasLowrey.com.