We Rather Be Homeless than Dogless

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The Woodwards are facing eviction from their Upper East Side New York apartment, because their family pet barks too much and too loud, or so says the building’s co-op board. However, the family is contesting this claim, saying their dog Olivia is essential to one of their family member’s health.

Photo Credit: Harriet Woodward
Photo Credit: Harriet Woodward


Thirty-two-year-old Elizabeth Woodward suffers from a rare disease called mast cell activation syndrome, and the canine alerts her by barking and jumping on her whenever Woodward is prone to an attack. The problem is that Olivia has not been certified as a therapy dog, and the building’s board just thinks the pet’s barks are irritating.

Elizabeth’s illness can attack at any time and when it does, her blood pressure spikes, her hear rate accelerates, she gets dizzy and faints, but Olivia can sense whenever her owner is about to feel sick and barks until Elizabeth lays down.

Harriet Woodward, Elizabeth’s mother, says the therapeutic dog is a Godsend. Since they got the dog three years ago, dealing with their daughter’s illness has been a lot easier.

“Sometimes, Elizabeth is eating something that we think is fine, but Olivia knows better,” Harriet told the NY Daily News. “She barks at her and then jumps up and pushes the food away.”

Andrew Woodward, Elizabeth’s brother, said that at the beginning they though the dog’s actions and his sister’s attacks were simple coincidence, “but then it happens again and again, and you’re like, ‘wait a minute, there’s really something happening here.'”

The family has been living in the E. 86th Street apartment for 25 years and they are ready to pack their bags if they are forced out.

“If we lose Olivia, we lose Elizabeth,” said Harriet. “They have to be together.”

There is a legal battle over this matter right now and the Woodwards have said they rather be homeless than dogless.

59 thoughts on “We Rather Be Homeless than Dogless”

  1. When my headaches get too bad I use my basset as a pillow. There is something about his fur that is therapeutic and relieves the pain.

  2. yeah I have 2 teenage boys making me a nervous wreck complaining that when my dogs are in my yard they bark too much too! it doesn’t matter they bark cause they are spraying them with a hose or yelling at them or running around with a parachute on their back, or jumping off the house roof or kicking or hitting balls….. no I can’t imagine ANY dog barking at any of that stuff!

  3. I am a dog lover (I have three) but I hate barking. Hate it. I don’t allow my dogs to do it and it drives me crazy if my neighbors’ dogs bark.

  4. I think everyone needs a little therapy! Play with your dogs. Be glad they bark. (lost for words here). Think positive people. Barks are warnings. One reason or another maybe bored.

  5. I like to practice by the golden rule personally. A barking dog is truly annoying and is hard to be tolerated. I have a dog that barks at the drop of a hat. When I leave I’ve given my neighbors instructions to call me if she gets out of hand and I’ll come home immediately to stop her (and to please call me as I don’t want her bothering them). I think sometimes a bit of diplomacy goes a long ways in letting people that you know it’s unacceptable and you’re trying to do something about it (i.e. training). Perhaps a bit of leeway from time to time will be easily given if she were to understand their position too. Not everything in this world is black and white and it’s much easier to be respectful and understanding and hopefully it will be returned in kind.


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