Spotlight: Apartment dogs bring 'No Pets' policy to heel
Advertisement

Spotlight: Apartment dogs bring 'No Pets' policy to heel

It's a modern-day love affair, set in the glistening, ultra-chic twin towers of Altair in Sydney's Rushcutters Bay. The pair met four years ago, batting eyes as they passed one another in the lobby of the 20-storey apartment complex. Since then, Mambo and Cherry have been regularly smooching and running around the local park together, while pursuing independent lives two floors apart.

Altair’s dogs and their owners.

Altair’s dogs and their owners.Credit:Jennifer Soo

Maltese poodles ("moodles") can be like that – wildly affectionate, with an edge of boundary-setting – and besides, Mambo has a busy life as an ambassador for the City of Sydney's Strata Paws workshop, which gives tips on how to provide a better life for pets in apartment blocks. Mambo, 7, and his guardian, Anna Shepherd, 55, have been through a lot together. When Shepherd was overwhelmed with grief after her brother's death, Mambo never left her side. "I felt my heart start to heal and I was forced to become active by going to the park every day, where I made new friends," says Shepherd, manager of a home health-care company.

The power of canines in reducing depression and anxiety – and countering social isolation in our growing concrete jungles – has been shown in a slew of international studies. Which may have played a role in the recent relaxing of strata by-laws banning pets in both NSW and Victoria. Sixty-three per cent of Australian households have a pet of some kind, according to Animal Medicines Australia, and as Australians switch from the quarter-acre block to the 80-square-metre high-rise apartment, strata laws have begun to shift too.

The Altair "dog squad", from left, Johnny Davies and his bulldog Romeo, James Garwood with Poppy and Chelsea, Nic Middenway and his staffy Sammy, Anna Shepherd and Mambo, Alex Deravin and his toy poodle Gaston, Paul Pede and Giovanni Rizzo with Eddy, Alex Greenwich and his rescue dog Max and building manager Mario Caruana with Beatrice.

The Altair "dog squad", from left, Johnny Davies and his bulldog Romeo, James Garwood with Poppy and Chelsea, Nic Middenway and his staffy Sammy, Anna Shepherd and Mambo, Alex Deravin and his toy poodle Gaston, Paul Pede and Giovanni Rizzo with Eddy, Alex Greenwich and his rescue dog Max and building manager Mario Caruana with Beatrice.Credit:Jennifer Soo

Roughly one in four of the 139 apartments in Altair is home to a dog or cat, according to concierge Stephen McIntyre, who, in awarding passing canine tenants regular treats, has become the most popular person in the building. Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, who lives in Altair with his partner and their rescue dog Max, lobbied the government to make the new model by-law pet-friendly. "Our building proves pets in apartments can work," he notes.

Retiree Alex De Ravin, 69, owner of Gaston, a sparkling-eyed seven-year-old poodle, is glad to live in such a pet-friendly place. "I never saw myself as a dog person, but their ability to lift your mood is incredible," he enthuses.

To read more from Good Weekend magazine, visit our page at The Sydney Morning Herald or The Age.

Most Viewed in National

Loading
Advertisement