Upstaging celebrity Sydney vet Dr Chris Brown, the charismatic host of the popular television series Bondi Vet, is no easy matter.
But that’s exactly what happened at The Gracewood recently, while Chris was addressing a packed auditorium of around 200 residents and visitors on the subject of how best to combine pet ownership with modern apartment living.
Just as Chris was explaining that it was a good idea for dog owners to select four-legged companions that weren’t too sharply intelligent, a very cute Gracewood resident by the name of Lucy let out – with perfect timing - one very loud bark.
Was it a bark of agreement or indignation? Either way, Lucy’s contribution gave The Gracewood’s guest speaker and audience a hearty laugh and made for one of the most entertaining moments in an information-packed event.
As Chris explained, the many health and social benefits of pet ownership for seniors and retirees are being increasingly recognised, meaning that managers of Australia’s most caring and modern seniors’ living developments, such as The Gracewood, now recognise that many people want to take their pets with them when downsizing.
The old assumption that pets and apartment living don’t mix was false, Chris said – as long as owners followed a few simple, obviously common-sense rules, and the pet fits in with the development’s pet policy.
“With dogs for instance, the biggest misconception is that they need a big backyard“, he said. “But in reality, dogs are more time-consuming than space-consuming, while other pets such as cats, birds or fish don’t of course consume much of either.
“The most important consideration is to ensure your pet is suited to your lifestyle.”
Chris said the main problems facing dogs in apartments were putting on too much weight, through lack of exercise or over-feeding, and boredom, which could result in excessive barking. “But if you manage their diet and give them regular exercise, everyone – including their owners - will be a lot better off,” he pointed out.
Some of the tips Chris shared included:
Chris said other than owning a pet, Gracewood’s animal lovers could take advantage of the village’s proximity to native bushland to enjoy the area’s abundance of wildlife fauna, particularly native birds, while other options included volunteering at animal shelters or offering to mind friends’ or family members’ pets while they were away.