A Dog Friendly Neighborhood is No Joke

I often get mocking smiles when I tell people I am a dog friendly Realtor. Yesterday one of the agents in my office walked by my desk barking. However, most dog owners know that having a dog friendly Realtor and finding a dog friendly neighborhood is no joke. When I talk with dog owners about my business, I frequently hear stories about dog hating neighbors that ruin people’s lives. Just today I heard a story about a woman who was walking her dog in her neighborhood when she saw a pit bull behind a fence in a neighbor’s yard. Before she knew it the pit bull jumped the fence, ran over to her and began terrorizing her, her young son and older dog. Fortunately, there were no injuries (other than emotional) but now she is afraid to walk in her neighborhood. Other neighbors have told her that the owner is aware of the pit bull’s tendency to escape and has done nothing about it.

These are the kind of things you want to know before moving into a neighborhood.  As part of my dog friendly real estate services, I help my clients get the lay of the land before they put in an offer on a house.  I always recommend that my clients spend some time in the neighborhood walking their dog and talking to neighbors.  If there is a dog park near the home my clients are considering buying, I suggest they take their dogs there for a trial run.  You can get a pretty good idea of the personality of the neighborhood by spending some time at the local dog park. 

Dog parks are not created equal.  Some dog parks have rough dogs.  Some have aggressive small dogs.  Some are mellow.  Others are friendly.  At one dog park a man dropped his pit bull mix off at the gate and got back into his car to read the paper.  The dog ran wild through the park.  When approached about the unattended dog, the man said, “Oh, don’t worry.  He is friendly.”  This may not be the park you want to live next to if this is how the people handle their dogs. 

Dog owners have many unique considerations when buying a home.  Some of the things I help my clients determine is the suitability of the neighborhood for them and their dogs.  Does the home have an area where they can contain the dog when they are not at home?  Is the yard large enough and safe enough for the dog to be left unattended?  If they have an older dog, is there going to be an issue with a two story home?  If there are carpets, are they going to get ruined by a dog’s dirty feet? 

Dogs are the new children.  Just as you would want to move your children into a neighborhood with other children and good schools, if you have a dog you want to move into a dog friendly neighborhood with good dog parks.  Unlike schools there are no test scores to study, but a dog friendly Realtor can point you in the right direction. 

Looking for a downtown condo for you and your urban hound?

If you and your hound are looking for an urban lifestyle (as urban as life gets on the peninsula,) there are a couple of new condos on the market worth checking out. 

800 High Street #310, Palo Alto 
At the top of the list is 800 High Street #310. The building is only 2 years old and has a contemporary design. Located adjacent to Whole Foods and Peet’s Coffee, it is an easy walk to downtown and a dog friendly neighborhood for walks with your pooch. The condo allows pets but does have restrictions. The CC&Rs allow 1 cat and 1 dog but it can’t weigh over 60 lbs. 

There is a new townhome on the market off California Street in Palo Alto.  Located next to CalTrain and easy walking distance to restaurants and shops on California Street, 2583 Park Blvd. #W102 is a good place for central Palo Alto urban living.  The CC&Rs allow pets but restrict the number of pets to two per unit. 

If you are interested in living in Los Altos, a condo just came on the market at 444 Lassen Street #11 which is pet friendly.  Los Altos is one of the most dog friendly cities on the peninsula.  From this condo you can walk to The Barking Lot pet groomer, Five Paw dog bakery, Pet’s Delight dog boutique and most importantly Adobe Animal Hospital which is open 24 hours a day.  The CC&Rs allow dogs but restrict the breed.  You are not allowed to have a “fighting breed,” which includes Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Doberman, Mastiff, and Canaria Presa.

Published in: on January 26, 2008 at 7:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Overheard at Lake Lagunita

“What I love about dogs is they don’t talk. I never wake up the next morning wondering ‘What did he mean by that?’ with my dog.”

Woman to her friend while walking around Lake Lagunita with her dog.

Published in: on January 21, 2008 at 5:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dog Party at Kepler’s Books

On January 26 at 2:00 pm Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park is hosting a dog party in honor of an appearance by the editors of Bark magazine. Cameron Woo and Claudie Kawezynska recently published “Howl: A Collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit.” Kepler’s is located at 1010 El Camino Real in Menlo Park. Dogs on leash are welcome at the event. The management promises “free treats and other surprises for dogs and their companions.”

Published in: on January 19, 2008 at 6:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Letting Loose at Lake Lagunita

Lake Lagunita Palo Alto 
L
ake Lagunita is a hidden jewel on the Stanford campus. It is located on the western side of campus near the Stanford Golf Driving Range. The lake is artificial and is dry for most of the year. A dirt trail surrounds Lake Lagunita forming a .9 mile loop. It is a good walking trail for dogs and their owners. If you like to let your dog off leash, this is a great place to do so. Dogs can run through the dry lake bed and get a good romp while you walk the path. A group of primarily Vizsla dog owners meet in the center of the lake in the early evening. The group welcomes dogs of all breeds to join them. Since Lake Lagunita is on the Stanford campus you have to pay for parking. However, if you arrive after 4:00 pm the parking is free. 

To search for homes near Lake Lagunita in Palo Alto, go to Lake Lagunita Property Search under Search for Homes Near Dog Parks on www.peninsulahousehound.com.

Published in: on January 19, 2008 at 6:31 am  Comments (2)  
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Overheard at Nealon Dog Park

“This is a gym not a deli,” said a woman to another woman who asked if she could give her dog a treat.

Published in: on January 18, 2008 at 2:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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Willow Oaks dog park is open

Willow Oaks Dog Park

Willow Oaks Dog Park is open.  It has been a long haul.  According to the city of Menlo Park, the process of seeding and re-establishing turf normally takes about 8 weeks. Due to the unusually cold temperatures in November and December, the first batch of grass seed did not germinate well so a second application was required. With the heavy rain over the weekend they left the park closed so it could dry out to prevent deterioration of the new grass.

It is great that it is open but it doesn’t seem ready.  The grass is patchy and muddy.  It seems like it could use even more time to dry out.  I will probably wait at least a week before going back.  Bucky was covered with mud after our adventure. Willow Oaks is open from 7 am – 9 am & 4 pm – Dusk.  Parking is a challenge due to soccer games and other park activities.  Although Willow Oaks is located on Willow Road & Coleman Avenue, I suggest parking on Gilbert and walking down the paved path to the park. There are three dog friendly condos on the market right now that are walking distance to Willow Oaks. To search for property near Willow Oaks dog park, go to the Search Property Near Dog Parks guide at www.peninsulahousehound.com.  You will see all of the property on the market near the dog park.  Living near a dog park is a major quality of life issue.  Most of the people at Willow Oaks today walked to the park.  They said they are so grateful that the park has reopened because they didn’t know what to do with their dogs while it was closed.  It makes a dog owner’s life easier having a local dog park.

Published in: on January 17, 2008 at 5:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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Caltrain is not dog friendly

I was out with some clients today looking at a dog friendly condo near the Caltrain stop in Menlo Park.  One of the clients, who works in the city, asked me if he could take his dog to work with him on the train.  Unfortunately, Caltrain (and BART) are dog unfriendly.  Service animals, such as guide dogs, may accompany persons with disabilities on Caltrain if the animals are on a lead that does not interfere with passengers and the animal is under the constant supervision and control of the owner. No other animals are permitted.

Published in: on January 14, 2008 at 12:37 am  Comments (1)  
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10 poisonous plants to be aware of when purchasing a new home

Just because a home has a big backyard does not mean it is dog friendly. Sometimes there are hidden toxins lurking in the landscape. Before you let your dog loose in the backyard of your new home, make sure that none of the following plants are present.According to Jill Richardson,DVM, of the ASPCA the following are the top 10 poisonous plants to pups:  

Autumn crocus (Colchicum):  Its active ingredient, colchicines, triggers an anti-metabolic effect that can cause rapidly dividing cells, shedding of the gastrointestinal tract, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.

Azalea (Rhododendron): This popular plant can harm a dog’s cardiovascular system and trigger vomiting or gastrointestinal upset.Daffodil (Narcissus): Toxic ingredients in the bulbs cause convulsions, tremors, lethargy, weakness, and upset stomachs.

Hyacinth (Hyacinth): This popular plant can cause severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea, depression, and tremors.

Japanese yew (Taxis): Extremely toxic to dogs, this group of ornamental plants can cause seizures or cardiac failure. The plant and red berries are toxic.

Lily of the valley (Convalaria): This plant can cause heart failure, coordination problems, and vomiting.

Oleander (Nerium): Extremely toxic, this popular outdoor plant contains cardiac glycosides that harm the heart, decrease body temperature, cause abnormal pulse rate, and can cause death. Beware: Even people have died from eating hot dogs roasted on an oleander twig.

Rhubarb (Rheum): Although the stalks are used to make pies, the leaves pack the potential to cause kidney damage.

Sago palm (Cycads): Resembling an upside down pineapple, this plant thrives in sandy soils, especially in warmer states such as California, Texas, and Florida. A few seeds can kill a dog.

Tomato (Lycopersicion):Surprisingly, the greenery of this common plant, not the tomato itself, contains solanine, a toxic ingredient that can prompt gastric upset, depression, weakness, and a decrease in heart rate.

Because of all the rainy weather I have noticed some large mushrooms growing in my backyard.  Dr. Richardson recommends keeping dogs away from all mushrooms just to be on the safe side. 

For more information on poisonous plants, tap into the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center or the American Veterinary Medical Association website.

Published in: on January 11, 2008 at 7:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Thomson Bill

One of the questions I frequently get from clients is about the legality of pet restrictions in CC&Rs. When searching for a dog friendly condo complex it is important to study the CC&Rs of the Homeowners Association. Look closely at when the CCR&S were adopted and if there are any revisions. According to the Thompson bill no common interest development governing document created, entered into, modified or renewed on or after January 1, 2001 may prohibit a homeowner from having one pet. Since this law is not retroactive, it is important to look for the date of adoption or modification. If the Homeowners Association had CC&Rs in place that have not been modified before January 1, 2001 they are legally able to restrict pet ownership.

Published in: on January 11, 2008 at 2:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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