Two years ago, on a cold, dark January evening, I was arriving home late from work. I approached my driveway, opened the garage, and began to pull my car in, when I noticed movement in the snow just outside of the garage on my front yard. It looked like a small bunny hopping gingerly across the top of the snow. This was perplexing, not only because it wasn’t Easter yet, but also because bunnies don’t generally roam our neighborhood, especially in the middle of a cold January inversion at 9:30 in the evening. Yet, before I could even pull into the garage, this small creature had hopped in and set itself right at the doorstep of the entrance to my home. When I got out of my car and went to the doorstep, there sat the most adorable miniature Yorkie that I have ever seen. He made three high jumps and landed into my arms, wagging his tail the entire time.

Since this tiny creature had no identifying tags, I cased the neighborhood, knocking on doors to see if anyone was missing a dog. I didn’t recognize him from the neighborhood, but I wanted to be sure. No one claimed him. I took him in, made him a little bed, and put him to sleep, only to have my youngest daughter commandeer him during the night.

The next morning, I took him to the animal shelter. If no one claimed him within 10 days, he was ours. Exactly 10 days later, we officially adopted Elliot, the miniature Yorkie.

We are only one of the 85 million families in the U.S. that own a pet. That is roughly (excuse the pun), 67%. For most of us, these loveable, furry critters are like family. We include them in our family portraits as well as in our Christmas card photos. They are one of us.

Not everyone, however, feels this way about animals. Admittedly, I am a convert. It started with my friends owning pets, then siblings, and eventually, my kids broke me down and I saw that they all had something I was missing… namely, a pet. Eventually, I joined myself with them.

Being a pet owner comes with some amount of responsibility. It is both time consuming as well as expensive, especially horses. Fortunately, however, when moving, you needn’t worry about taking your horse with you during every showing. You do, however, need to worry about your other pets.

Although everyone should love your dog, not everyone does. The dog needs to vacate the home with every showing; along with the cat, the kitty litter, and the dog potty pads. Before putting the home on the market, be sure that the carpet has been cleaned. Pets have a smell. Perhaps you can’t smell it, since you live with the pet, but everyone else can. Do all you can to minimize that smell, with the exception of a Glade Plug-In… there is no such thing as a plug-in that smells better than dog pee.

Probably one of the most offensive odors that we encounter as Realtors, and we encounter them all too often, is cat urine. This has been a deal killer on more occasions than I can count. Do whatever is necessary to eliminate this odor. I can tell from a block away if a cat has peed in a house. It is not something that one can mask.

It is a good idea, if you have pets, to vacuum religiously. Put away the food and water bowls and pet toys during showings, and refrain from having the cat pose on the bed for the listing photos.

This process of getting your home ready to sell, is going to cause significa t stress to your furry friend. Give them extra attention and care during this time and plan for adequate transition time when moving into your new home.

Elliot the dog, as well as every other animal that I have owned, has been a great asset to life as well as my real estate career. He has taught me to live with exuberance and excitement, to take each moment one at a time, to appreciate simplicity and to love unconditionally. He has taught me to be friends with everyone, yet honor my intuition. I have no regrets on my conversion.

Jen Kirchhoefer is an associate broker and Realtor.

She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!