Finding a Fido-friendly condo? I've lost sleep (and my sanity)

June 6, 2011

Welcome to Girl Seeks Dog, a biweekly column where Amberly McAteer embarks on a quest for her first pup

Frazzled isn't a word I'd use to describe myself. But I haven't had a good night's rest in weeks. Sleep isn't an option - the wee hours of the morning are spent frantically Googling everything my new life needs: downtown condo, dog crate, toaster, TV, spatulas, apartment-friendly dog.

A spreadsheet comparing my monthly salary with condo rent and expenses makes my eyes burn. In theory, I can afford a new place. Yet I'm hardly rolling in cash now. Of course, last month's bank statement explains it: $345 at Lululemon, $217 on new shoes, $187 in cabs. Right.

My pup will likely take $150 a month for food, toys and vet care, after the up-front costs. Totally doable on paper, but it could be a challenge in practice.

To start on my condo hunt, I enlist the help of Danielle Demerino, a fierce real-estate agent and dog lover. My first pick is the spanking new, over-the-top trendy building that neighbours the Air Canada Centre. Sure, the units are a little out of budget, insanely small - but the kicker? No dogs allowed.

In my second choice, the building across the street from my office, a man straight out of GQ holds the door with a brindle greyhound at his side. As the pair saunter across the lobby, my jaw drops - at the beautiful dog, of course. And then suddenly they're everywhere: a French bulldog waits patiently on the tan leather couch for a young woman on her phone. A schnauzer looks up at a young couple speaking to the concierge.

In the elevator, I'm sandwiched between a bouncy terrier and a stoic Great Dane - and instantly begin speaking like a toddler. "Who's a pretty boy?" I ask the towering horse of a dog, completely expecting an answer. (Fact: my common sense is directly related to the proximity of a canine.)

With sexy dark floors and a square layout perfect for parties - the first unit I saw had me swooning. "Those floors aren't going to look so hot with the dog hair, you know," Danielle points out.

I decide to sign my life away for a long narrow unit - perfect for endless hours of ball throwing - with light coloured, laminate floors.

At about 600 square feet, it's most definitely a shoebox in the sky. But with an eight-acre green space across the street, a rooftop pool, and a glorious four-minute walk to my office, this building has "happy girl, happy dog" written all over it.

The neighbouring dog park is a canine party: Dozens frolic and wrestle, toppling over each other then running in circles at full speed. Owner Becky Macgee tells me that Porter, her Chinese Shar Pei, loves the condo life. "He's no less happy here than if he lived in the country. Look at him!" she exclaims as the wrinkly, chocolate-brown flash darts by us, just missing my knees.

I'm sold, but I freeze at the landlord's only question: "Does this tenant come with a pet?" I answer honestly - no, I don't - and pray he doesn't read this newspaper.

I feel like a nesting, expectant mother: This baby is coming soon. Sleep-deprived and Craigslist-obsessed, I now own kitchen island stools - but no island. And dog bowls from a "blowout" sale at 3:30 a.m - with no dog. But it all brings me one step closer to my new adventure. I'm thrilled, but I'm pooched.

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