NYers dope pets, use stunt doubles to get dogs past co-op boards

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For the first 30 minutes of the interview with the co-op’s board, the Frenchton – a mix between a Boston terrier and a French bulldog – was a little angel.

But as the minutes passed and the dog’s medication began to wear off, his owner grew nervous.

“She gets excited when she meets new people, so we gave her Benadryl,” the 51-year-old marketing executive said. “The vet told us it would help. He was prescribed some to relieve the itchy skin, but he said to give it to him that day near the interview” to calm the dog down.

The woman and her husband feared their finances were up to snuff when they ditched a village rental for an Upper East Side co-op. Their accounts were good, the council said – but would require an interview with the canine member of the family.

“They were clear,” said the marketing manager. “If the dog was a problem, we wouldn’t have the apartment.”

Trainer Bash Dibra (seen here with Delilah) offers classes specifically designed to get dogs to behave in co-op board interviews.
Emmy Park

With pandemic work-from-home situations breeding separation anxiety and other bad behavior in dogs, more and more New Yorkers are afraid of needy or mischievous pets blowing up their board talks. co-op board — so they drug their pooches, call in stunt doubles, and bomb out for some special training.

“When a potential buyer calls me, their dog is one of the first things I ask,” said Wendy Sarasohn, resident luxury agent at Brown Harris Stevens. “It can be as important… as how many millions [of dollars] liquidity they have.

Sarasohn has also seen clients slip a sedative on their dog. They were empty nests trading a Great Neck mansion for a Park Avenue co-op, and their pet was used to running around and barking all he wanted. “He was a big dog, and they weren’t sure he was behaving well,” she recalls.

Another potential tenant wanted to buy in a building where pets were restricted to 25 pounds or less – but her dog weighed nearly 50 pounds. “So she put him on a strict weight-loss program,” hoping that if the dog at least looked a little less plump, he might escape the council’s critical eye, Sarasohn said. Fortunately, “they didn’t weigh it”.

Even for thin, city-dwelling dogs, the broker said she recommends owners work with Bash Dibra. The New York canine behaviorist has long been a television staple, but he’s quietly carved out a lucrative pandemic niche for himself: grooming Fido to be co-op board-ready, at $500 a session.

Real estate agent Wendy Sarasohn said a potential buyer's dog
Real estate agent Wendy Sarasohn said a potential buyer’s dog “can be as important” in the approval process “as how many millions [of dollars] liquidity they have.
Stephane Yang

Dibra told the Post that he’s been hired several times a month, with numbers up thanks to the coming spring shopping spree.

He typically works with owners for several weeks, getting dogs to walk on a leash without pulling, to come quietly when called, and of course, never to jump on people. ” The final result ? We are getting a great dog that will pass advice and be a great family member,” Dibra said.

"shark tank" Corcoran Group star and founder Barbara Corcoran said potential buyers sometimes swap a different dog for interviews.
“Shark Tank” star and Corcoran Group founder Barbara Corcoran said potential buyers sometimes swap a different dog for interviews.
ABC/Getty Images

The trainer added that he understands why councils subject pooches to such strict scrutiny: “They have to think about insurance. If there’s a biting dog, it’s a problem for the building because the rates skyrocket.

Some buyers, however, give up and call it a ringer.

Energy broker Barbara Corcoran recalled one such instance where an apartment buyer feared his bad-tempered stuffed dog might ruin a deal.

“So she borrowed a Shih Tzu that looked like her dog for the board meeting and was successful,” the ‘Shark Tank’ star said. “When she moved in, I bet the council thought the dog had changed his personality. I’m sure that happens a lot.

Indeed, Sarasohn has similar stories – as the budding shopper worried that her pup “wouldn’t stop barking or peeing on the carpet”. He was very picky about who he was nice to.

So the woman borrowed a friend’s dog from the local dog race and left her own troubled pet at home. The well-mannered replacement made it through the interview with the board.

Meanwhile, Philip Salem of Compass Real Estate offers a different solution: Hollywood High Gloss. He advises his clients to create a moving montage of adorable dog images, set to engaging music, to share with a counsel even before being called in for an interview.

“It’s a resume for dogs. You can do anything on an iPhone in less than a minute,” he said. “Pictures with children, [a dog] dressed in a suit, sleeping – it will tug at the heart strings of the board.

Broker Philip Salem suggests clients create movies showing how adorable their pets are, to win co-op boards.
Broker Philip Salem suggests clients create movies showing how adorable their pets are, to win co-op boards.
Stephane Yang

Salem also often sends videos to sales agents, reassuring them that a potential buyer’s dog is docile, and receives letters of attestation from groomers and dog walkers.

That’s how he recently helped a family open a premier co-op in Fort Greene. Their nine-year-old rescue had worked as a therapy dog ​​for stressed students, so the woman collected snaps of him with children and in a Halloween costume.

“We got a letter from the doorman at our current home saying he wasn’t loud and yapping,” said the woman, a pharmaceutical executive. “We had to bring the same number of reference letters for the dog, if not more, than for us.”

Still, she doesn’t want to take any risks: On the day of the board meeting, she took her pet for a really long walk, then gave it anti-anxiety medication.

As for the Frenchton on Benadryl, the interview lasted 90 minutes and the dog slept for most of it. The landlord felt a bit guilty: “We had jumped so many hurdles that there was no way we wouldn’t get this apartment.”

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