My mom was terrified of dogs! Growing up as a child on the streets of Boro Park whenever a dog would appear, she would grab my arm and run. Apparently I come from a long line of dog phobic ancestors as my grandmother was known to have similar fears towards K-9’s. 

This may seem incongruous with what is a common sight on the streets of Teaneck these days, where every 11 year old is seen walking their Toy Poodle for play dates with their neighbors’s Bichon Frise. I no longer have to cross the street to avoid “fido,” as many years ago I was forced to shift my mindset towards domesticated animals. 

After making a few sales as a buyer’s agent when I first started my career, I was given the opportunity to go for one of my first listing appointments. I was very excited as this was a big step for me and I was determined to get the listing at all cost. After performing a thorough market analysis on the potential seller’s property I made arrangements to meet them. All of my rehearsals and preparation went out the door the second the literal door was opened and a dog larger than my husband tried to go in for the hug. I immediately froze as the homeowners proudly announced the arrival of “Fluffy” and letting the question hang…”you’re okay with dogs, right?” My response –


I walked away with two things that day: A great new listing, and a new chapter in my relationship with dogs. I have dealt with many other animals along this journey, from parrots landing on my head,  explaining to potential customers how a fully matured 600 pound sea turtle could be moved out of the basement should they choose to purchase the home and discovering a missing cat when I opened the Bessler stairs to the family’s attic as the owners and children exclaimed “Smokey! How did you get up there?”

My relationship with dogs would change yet again a few years later. Vera and I joined together in 1992 and in addition to gaining a great partner and true friend, the Greenwald family came with Charlie, a charming Labrador who won me over. Many of our office meetings would be attended by Charlie and by this time I had truly broken my family’s aversion to dogs. 

Every job comes with attendant “hazards” and being a realtor has certainly forced me to come face to face with “perceived” dangers.  I would love to hear from you about your occupational hazards and how you overcame them! Please email me at nechamapolak@gmail.com or call me at 201 826 8809.
Nechama Polak is the Broker of Record and owner of V and N Group LLC. The office is located at 1401 Palisade Avenue, Teaneck, New Jersey, 201 692 – 3700.