The dog owner
This man has many demands, but they all relate to pleasing his pup
The garden must have both sun and shade, and be a proper size. I don’t want one of those subterranean lightwells dressed with trellises and one pot plant. Bertie isn’t a mole, it would send him over the edge,” so decrees my client, with a shudder at the mere prospect. “He has needs.”
“I’m sure,” I say swiftly.
The British have an affiliation with their pets; it’s the love that dare demonstrate open affection and general soppiness. What we often fail to offer our fellow humans, we lavish upon our pet. My client (a successful man in his 30s) could not think more highly of Bertie, his wire-haired dachshund. Bertie takes it as his due and has a stately manner; he comes to viewings and mounts steps at a languid pace. I swear that I’ve seen him shoot me a disdainful glance once or twice.
We all have our priorities when it comes to a property search – whether it’s natural light, room proportions, location, gadgetry, parking, condition of the property…whatever our particular penchant may be, the list goes on. And yet, inevitably, most buyers will compromise on one aspect or another when it comes to making their purchase. However, the most intransigent of buyers that I’ve ever dealt with is the pet owner. If they want a 100 sq ft garden for their dog that’s what they mean and 95 sq ft positively won’t do.
I should clarify that Bertie is not a child substitute. My client has a girlfriend and has indicated – in the way that those people who’ve followed a carefully plotted life of spreadsheet-like exactitude can do – that the couple will be breeding. In fact it shows a prejudice on my part that I could even imagine such a thing, which I confess I did at first, as I couldn’t understand that the criteria for the dog’s happiness superseded the owner’s. My client doesn’t seem the type of person you’d expect to be gooey over their dog, but then perhaps there isn’t a type. He just loves his dog very much, as do many.
The garden, I’ve been told, must lead out from the kitchen. The kitchen must be equipped with an Aga; or at least the installation of one should prove easy. Apparently Bertie very much enjoyed curling up beside one during a country weekend. The Aga is easy enough to accommodate but finding that size of garden within the central London area, without an unlimited budget, will always be a challenge.
Eventually, I find a maisonette in Little Venice. It’s on the canal and has a private 100-foot garden of 40-foot width. It’s the ground and lower-ground floor of a grand detached house; late Victorian with wonderful volumes, three bedrooms (which could accommodate any future offspring) and a kitchen that gives on to the magisterial spread of lawn. Bertie appears pleased. And so, naturally, we all are.