New Yorkers love their pets, and in general, New York City pets, like their owners, live well. We have dog runs in the park, doggy spas, doggy day camps, and grooming menus which now feature manicure/pedicure options. And who hasn’t heard of Trouble, the richest dog of all? A little Maltese, Trouble, inherited $12 million when her owner, Leona Helmsley passed away. My favorite New York City pet story by far is the story of Milly, the Berkshire Pig.
Milly lived on the Upper East Side in a two bedroom, duplex condo. Her bedroom had a balcony large enough to support her daily ablutions. I assure you, her owner– a professional with advanced degrees, a respectable position, and a stable, loving marriage–was sane. Her one noticeable quirk involved a love of all things porcine. She had a pig foot stool, pig art on the walls, and believe it or not, a fondness for bacon. Milly, on the other hand, loved gingersnaps. Milly and her people lived contently and she, like our furry friends, went to camp. In order to spend her summers staying cool in the New Jersey country side, Milly had to first get by the doorman. As a 190 pound pig, that was risky business; but an extra-large dog cage, a luggage cart, and an oversized blanket did the trick.
One day, it came time to sell the two-bedroom, duplex condo. This is when I met Milly. Of course, the owners knew that selling their apartment for top dollar with Milly ensconced in her bedroom was a non-starter. So, Milly went back to camp for an extended stay, and her bedroom received a fresh coat of paint, a brand new blue carpet, a few weights, a mat, and a balancing ball, to give the appearance of a home gym. Twelve open houses, seventeen appointments, and one price reduction later, we had a buyer. Meanwhile, the owners had found their dream apartment on the other end of Manhattan in a more liberal part of town where the condo board looked kindly on harboring a farm animal. Gone were the days of sneaking Milly in and out past the doorman. That left one last hurdle – the closing.
On the day of the closing, I arrived early as always, to make sure the apartment was in order and prepare for the final walk through with the new buyer and his broker. The previous owners had their housekeeper clean thoroughly after their departure, so it was in impeccable condition except for one thing. Without all the beautiful furniture, fresh flowers, and the scent of Madame’s perfume, all I could smell was Milly! I ran through the apartment, opening all of the windows on that clear, cold February morning. With twenty minutes remaining, I bundled up, waited, and prayed. After checking everything carefully, the new buyer was generally satisfied. However, he was clearly concerned, as he was about to make a very large purchase in a city that was new to him. Finally, when we got back downstairs he turned and said, “I really like the place, but it smells like Hillshire Farms in here.” I took in a sharp breath, and hoped he didn’t notice my nervousness as I responded, “Well, the owners were big on low carb diets and had bacon for breakfast most mornings.” Satisfied, he exited the apartment and off we went to a successful closing without another word about the unusual odor.
Milly lived downtown for a few more years, until the children began to arrive and the bedrooms morphed from pig pen to play pen. She then made summer camp her full time residence. When new sellers list their apartments with me and apologize about their pets, I frequently chuckle to myself and think of Milly as I rattle through the instructions about showing the apartment without upsetting the daily routine of Fluffy or Fido. After you have sold an apartment with a Berkshire pig, everything else is easy!