When Tom and Bonnie Taylor were relocating from Attica, Ind., to Springfield, Ill., they did what most real estate agents prefer and moved their pets out of their home before they put it on the market.
Because Tom Taylor had already found employment in Illinois, he took both of their adopted greyhounds, Jolly and Marsha, and their grown daughter's cat, Frasier, to Springfield with him. Bonnie, meanwhile, was finishing up her last few weeks of work at Purdue University and getting the house ready to sell.
"It just worked out for us that I had to move to Springfield first, so I took the animals with me," says Tom, who is now ranger at Camp Widjiwagan, a large year-round Girl Scout camp. "It was easier for me to keep them with me because Bonnie was still working there and packing."
Tom drove with the dogs when he made several trips back and forth from Springfield to Indiana to help finish last-minute projects at the Attica house. Bonnie cleaned the carpets after the pets were no longer living there.
Mary Hession, a Realtor with Century 21 1st Choice in Indianapolis, says she understands that not every seller has the opportunity to move or board pets when their home is on the market. Still, Hession says it's best to "keep it low-key" where pets are involved.
"Some people literally remove the dog, pet bowls and everything from the home," Hession says. "Some will put the dogs in the garage or put them in crates. It just kind of depends on the demeanor of the dog — whether or not the dog will get worked up. Some people let their cats run free, but just leave a note."
Hession admits for everyone's sake, pets should ideally be kept from roaming the house.
"A pet could run away. I've been lucky and have never had an incident where a dog or cat scooted out the door while I was showing a home, but that can happen," she says. "If the pets are there I feel better if they are in crates or in the garage."
Even homeowners with small animals and birds in cages should leave a note about pets.
"If it is a gerbil, a lizard or a snake — anything that would potentially be moving — we need to know that," Hession says. "I remember coming across three birds that were in a bedroom. I didn't know they were there and one let out this squawk. My people didn't even want to go in that room."
Of course, some people are so allergic to animal dander that they won't even consider a home with pets. "I have had clients who have smelled a dog or cat in a home and that immediately turns them off. You can tell they are not interested — or they'll wonder if carpets will be replaced," she says. "But some people don't mind. They'll say, 'We have cats — or dogs — that's no big deal.' "
Happily the Taylors sold their "pet-free" home quickly and Bonnie found employment in Springfield right away. Frasier the cat is now living with his original owner, who is married and settled in a North Dakota home after a military tour in Iraq.
The couple and their beloved greyhounds are happy with how their life has turned out, Tom Taylor says. After spending just a few nervous days of getting used to their new surroundings, both dogs have quickly adjusted to their new home.
Tom believes they were fortunate to avoid showing their home with the pets still living there.
"As it turned out, we didn't get the house on the market as soon as we thought, but it was best not to have the dogs there," he concludes. "We would have had to crate them and they aren't used to that. It was just better this way."