| Family Diary |

Close to Home: Chapter 18   

       We’d stepped outside and begun exploring the yard, when suddenly chaos broke out. Tucker had gotten loose from his leash



heila Porter was selling a sprawling three-story home that I thought Gavi and Hadassah Gutman would love. One Sunday, we headed over there together. I knew Sheila owned a little poodle and I also knew that Hadassah Gutman was terrified of dogs, so I called Sheila on our way over.

“No worries, Nicky,” she said breezily. “Tucker is out here with us in the backyard — I have some friends over. Let yourself in, see the house, and when you’re ready to view the yard, let me know and I’ll put my cutie on a leash.”

We slowly explored the house, Gavi and Hadassah exclaiming over the sun-drenched kitchen, the finished basement, and the spacious dining room. Finally, we’d seen everything, and the couple wanted to see the grounds and the pool.

I knocked on the window, gesturing to Sheila. She nodded, ambled over to her dog, and snapped a leash around his neck. A young boy, around ten, took the leash as he pet the dog.

We’d stepped outside and begun exploring the yard, when suddenly chaos broke out. Tucker had gotten loose from his leash.

Hadassah, seeing a huge dog amble up to her, panicked. She started shrieking and running, which, of course, made Tucker bark and run. Things got so frenzied that Hadassah nearly fell into the pool; I pulled her back just in time.

Sheila finally managed to grab the dog. She felt horrible. Rather than discussing the features of the house and the asking price, the conversation we had consisted solely of profuse apologies from Sheila, and a strangled goodbye from Hadassah.

Hadassah wasn’t the only one scared off by an animal. The Salazars owned a cat, a white Siamese named Luna. I wasn’t worried about it interfering, since cats generally do not like strangers; they usually slink off and hide when potential buyers arrive.

But Luna apparently was an atypical cat. As soon as I entered the house with the Blums, Luna attached herself to us, tail up in the air, every hair on her body showing disdain. I’m allergic to cats, so I did my best to shake her. We’d hurry up the stairs, she’d follow close behind us. I’d close the door firmly behind us — and turn around to see that Luna had slid in with us.

Mimi Blum couldn’t take it. Halfway through our tour, she said, “That’s it, I’m done. I cannot look at this house anymore. That cat is driving me crazy.”

“Come on,” I cajoled, “you haven’t even seen the playroom.”

“I’m being stalked and I cannot handle it.”

And that was that.

The owners, of course, feel very differently about their pets.

If you want to be a real estate agent when you grow up and you don’t like dogs, it’s going to be hard to succeed in this business. Dogs are often part of the family — occasionally treated even better than the kids. And it’s important to be very respectful toward homeowners’ pets.

I know two real estate agents who are petrified of dogs, and they actually went to pet therapy to get past this fear. If you can’t be around dogs, you can’t succeed in this business.

Walking down the block one day, I met a woman dressed in black with hot pink accents. She was walking a dog that had hot pink bows all over its fur.

“Your dog is adorable,” I said.

She immediately stopped and started talking with me, telling me that her dog is her life, the only family she has. She invited me into her house — which was just as eccentric as her dog’s get-up — and it turned out that she was looking to sell. Unfortunately, her dog ended up dying and it was deeply painful for her.

Jasmine, another client, also had a dog she was very connected to. She called me one day and sounded horrible.

“Is everything okay?” I asked.

“Remember my dog Bandit?” she asked. “Well, he’s been really sick, and we took him to the vet today. Turns out he had advanced cancer. We… we had to put Bandit to sleep.”

At this point she was sobbing. I murmured something sympathetic, while she continued.

“And on top of all that, I’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while, and finally did. But today, I lost that pregnancy. I mean, it’s nothing compared to the loss of Bandit, but both together are really awful.”

And my heart ached for a life in which the loss of a dog was more painful than the loss of a potential child.

Some encounters with animals are light-hearted.

The Walters had an enormous fish tank in their living room, filled with a variety of turtles. When I led George Parker and his teenage daughter through the room, he stopped in front of the tank, transfixed.

“When I grew up,” he told me, his voice nostalgic, “my father was a marine biologist. We lived near the coast in California and my little sister and I used to collect turtles for him to study. We’d go down to the beach together after school…”

He shared his memories, the middle-aged man suddenly a ten-year-old boy. His daughter asked questions, fascinated by these previously unknown details of her father’s and grandfather’s life, all triggered by the sight of a few turtles.

Then there was the time I was showing the Delgados around the Spencers’ home. While in the study, we heard a high-pitched voice say, “Excuse me, excuse me, hello.”

I startled. The Spencers’ agent had clearly told me that no one would be home. And I’d even knocked before entering to double check. Who could possibly be calling out to us?

I cautiously entered the next room — and came face to face with a large parrot.

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me,” he said.

“You’re excused,” I told him.

to be continued…


Keyed In

People take great pride in their pets, and love when others appreciate them. That said, don’t reach out to pet Fluffy too quickly. Some animals are fine with having strangers touch them, others are not; always ask permission before touching someone else’s pet.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 816)

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