This past spring, my husband and I moved from Brooklyn, New York, to a small town in Connecticut.
Along with the contents of our 2-bedroom apartment, we were also bringing our 2 dogs, Babe and Banjo. This was going to be Banjo’s first real experience out of the city since she was born. And though Babe had spent most of her life in the suburbs, we were nervous about changing her environment again at her advanced age.
We did some research, took precautions and finally introduced the dogs to their new home — and it went off without a hitch.
The City Dog
From the time Banjo, our young Boxer, was a couple months old until she was a little over 1 year, she lived in Brooklyn. Home for her was our third-floor walk-up apartment on a street with heavy traffic.
- She grew up listening to car alarms and honking instead of birds and wind in the trees.
- Going for a walk meant passing an endless strip of storefronts and weaving through crowds on the sidewalk.
- The only “yard” she knew was an enormous dog park we visited a few times a week.
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The Suburban Dog
Babe, our pittie, spent her life in the suburbs of rural Pennsylvania. That is, until we moved her to Brooklyn for the last 2 years.
She didn’t quite take to the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps — especially since sleeping is a beloved pastime of Babe’s.
The honking horns, beeping buses and whooshing street cleaners frightened our senior dog daily. But, gradually, she grew accustomed to her new surroundings, even if she was still scared of the delivery trucks.
She became friends with neighborhood dogs, took to her walks with confidence and didn’t seem to mind climbing up the flights of stairs.
City Apartment vs. Suburban Home
There are lots of differences between our city apartment and our new home in the suburbs.
For instance, now the dogs have an entire yard for themselves, whereas they had no yard before. These days, Banjo starts her mornings off with running figure 8’s around the yard while Babe lounges in a soft patch of grass and soaks up the sun.
Also, the additional living space has been a boon for both. Babe now has 5 rooms with beds or furniture where she can nap, and Banjo runs loops around the house.
Despite these suburban advantages, there are benefits to city living that we humans miss. In Brooklyn, we enjoyed:
- The other dogs. Every time we went for a walk, Babe and Banjo met new dogs and their friendly humans. Our pups were fantastically socialized.
- The nearby pet stores. Within a 2-block radius of our apartment, there were 2 pet supply stores. We took the dogs for little treats and toys all the time.
- The closeness of vets. Three vet clinics were within close walking distance of our apartment.
Here, people are more likely to pull their dog away from other dogs on the street. People tend to be more cautious with meeting new dogs outside the city, so Babe and Banjo haven’t met many other pups.
The only pet stores we’ve seen are big-name shops, like Petco and PetSmart. Both are a few miles away, so we have to drive. The same goes for veterinary clinics.
Dogs can make the darnedest friends in the suburbs:
The Gradual Adjustments
I wanted the dogs’ transition to their new surroundings to be as successful as possible. Over the years, they’d gotten used to life in the city, and a change to the suburbs was bound to be a bit of a shock.
We let them take their time investigating their new home. We accompanied them in the yard and inspected the fence for any weak spots. We shooed them away from the windows when they barked at the colony of squirrels next door.
Although the first few nights were a little restless, the dogs have not only gotten used to their new suburban home but also seem to love it. It’s a relief to know that Babe and Banjo have adjusted beautifully and found happiness here.