Finding Home – A Dog’s Tale

By Judy Bellack, Industry Principal, The Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative

Simon’s tail wagged eagerly as he watched his human, Emily, pace around the room with a worried expression. The scent of cardboard boxes filled the air, signaling change, and Simon could sense that something wasn’t quite right. He tilted his head and let out a soft whine, trying to comfort Emily in his own way.

For the past decade, Emily had been his person. He would never forget the day Emily and her pack took him home from the place with the kennels and all the other dogs. They had grown up together, becoming incredibly close along the way. He loved the way she called him all kinds of silly nicknames like Simon-dog, my pittie boy, and Si-Si. Now, as a recent college graduate, Emily faced a new challenge—finding an apartment of her own. Simon, with a heart as big as his 70-pound frame, knew he wasn’t just an integral part of Emily’s life—he was family. But in the world of rental homes, their bond was facing an unexpected hurdle.

The Search for Pet-Inclusive Housing: Simon Senses Desperation

The search for an apartment became a quest for the duo. Simon accompanied Emily to various places, his nose exploring every nook and cranny while his eyes observed the stress on his dog-mom’s face. Each time they inquired about a potential residence, Emily would anxiously ask about the pet policy, only to be met with apologetic shakes of the head and lots of words; Simon didn’t understand it all, but he did understand the word “no.”

Simon, with his keen sense of smell, could sense Emily’s frustration growing. He felt her distress as she spent hours in front of the lighted machine that she would tap on, becoming more and more upset. The bond they shared was unbreakable, and Simon couldn’t fathom the idea of staying with Mom and Dad (even though he loved them too) instead of going with Emily to her new home. And he knew Emily didn’t want that either, but she kept telling him he might have to stay.

As they navigated the challenging world of apartment hunting, Simon sensed Emily’s desperation.  He didn’t know that Emily considered compromising on location, amenities, price and even her own comfort just to find a place that would welcome him with open arms. But he could tell something wasn’t right and that Emily continued to be sad even when he did all his tricks and extra cuddles to cheer her up.

One day, as Emily sat on the floor of their childhood room with Simon nestled beside her, he could sense her exhaustion and that his dog-mom was reaching a breaking point.

Emily Finds Pet-Inclusive Housing

But then, Emily’s small light-up machine made that chime noise. Her mood seemed to change for the better as she tapped on the machine and then started talking on it. Suddenly, Emily shouted with joy and relief, and Simon’s heart and tail started thumping.

Over the next several days, there was such a flurry of activity and excitement, and then Simon and Emily took a short trip. The apartment, though not perfect, was a haven where Simon and Emily could continue their journey together. The sense of relief was palpable, not only for Emily but also for Simon, who had been witness to the emotional roller coaster of Emily’s search.

As they moved into their new home, Simon explored the unfamiliar territory with a wagging tail, secure in the knowledge that Emily was once again happy, and he was by her side. The walls echoed with the joyous barks and laughter, and the air was filled with the shared contentment of a dog-mom and her loyal companion, grateful for the home they had found against all odds.

If you’d like to know more about the lack of pet-inclusive rental housing – or how to make your pet policies more inclusive of all sizes and breeds of companion animals, please visit the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative. We have data and resources to help you in your journey toward creating space for the Simons and Emilys of the world.