When I work with parents seeking a San Francisco home, much of the focus is on fulfilling their children’s needs and wants. Can the kids each have a bedroom? How’s the commute to school? Is there a family room? (And don’t forget the seemingly inescapable question – from dads, mainly – “Can’t we get even a small patch of grass?”)
Yet the wishes of our canine family members are seldom heard, even in a town that has more dogs than children.
Luckily, my operations manager Mara Finley has come to the dog rescue (no pun intended). Her husband owns and operates a successful dog-walking business (check out his Instagram feed), and Mara herself is a dog-whispering wizard.
Whenever Mara and I visit homes with dogs, I’m the slightly allergic human who smiles and tries to hide a lingering nervousness (stemming from a scary childhood incident involving a pair of feral attack dogs.) Mara is the warm and trustworthy human who instantly and effortlessly befriends all canine critters.
So, I asked Mara to ask a few furry friends about what they are looking for when it comes to San Francisco real estate.
My western neighbor’s dog, Palucci, told Mara that his humans’ yard is plenty big enough for erecting an Accessory Doghouse Unit. He directed her to Ultra Modern Pet, where there’s a huge assortment of ADUs that match his modern sensibility. “My folks are architects,” he said, “I think they’ll be down with it if you’d just give them the URL.”
Ella, the aging pug who lives with our neighbors to the east, told Mara she is happy simply to be near her people, though she wishes they wouldn’t agree to babysit friends’ puppies. “That labradoodle that was here over Labor Day weekend was particularly obnoxious.”
Mara agreed to speak with her own dogs as well. Finley is a Lhasa Apso whom Mara and husband adopted after Finley’s former human passed away. A creature of refined sensibilities, Finley expressed his gratitude at being cared for so lovingly in his new home. But he let slip that he’s a bit dismayed at living in the Excelsior and having to put up with other, less sophisticated dogs. “I love you both. Really I do,” he said, “Yet won’t you please move to a penthouse condo in an elevator building on Russian Hill? Preferably one that prohibits pit bulls?”
The pit bull to whom Finley was obliquely referring is Mara’s beloved Gertie, a photogenic and athletic dog who shares space with Finley. Gertie and Finley couldn’t be more different, and Gertie isn’t too shy to be direct about what she wants in a home.
“The king sized bed is for dogs, but if humans feel like snuggling they can join too,” Gertie confided, “The dog room is the best room because it is the dirtiest and stinkiest. The mailman is the devil. The bamboo you just planted is delicious. And I’ll be your sous chef if you promise to drop as much food as possible.”
Asked if there were any improvements that could be made, Gertie said, “Could we get some dead seals and birds in here? A mud pit would be nice too. Plus there’s no need to keep my food locked up; I’d never eat more than one meal at a time. Oh. And giant yard would be nice. Or something on the beach. But, really, just wherever you are is where I want to be.”
(Obviously, Mara Finley gave me lots of help with this post. Thank you Mara!)
Photo Credit: Mysaell Armendariz
Cynthia Cummins is the founder of Kindred SF Homes and has been serving homeowners and homebuyers for 3 decades. For information on San Francisco Bay Area real estate visit KindredSFhomes.com. For my writing and mindfulness blog, visit WildHeartWriting.org.