Room for a pet paradise

What makes a house a home? For many of us, the pitter patter of tiny, fury feet plays a big role.

Supported Independent Living (SIL) houses make it possible for housemates to have and care for their own pets.

With agreement from other residents and approval from the Specialist Disability Accommodation provider, housemates may look forward to curling up on the couch with a furry friend – or a scaly sweetheart.

Cameron, Narelle, Leigh and Michael have all grown up around animals, so making their house a home involved welcoming friendly feline, Gally, and resident reptile Grover the blue-tongued lizard.

Donna Howard, House Supervisor, said the residents all discussed the possibility of pets for a while before making a decision.

“All the residents grew up with animals, and we spoke about it with each of them – and the staff – and they all wanted to go with it,” Donna said.

“We started Googling, everyone had a chance to sit down on the iPad and research, and we worked out the cost.”

After much consideration, the house decided on Gally.

“They all participate in the care of Gally” Donna said.

“They change her water bowl each morning, and they feed her with wet and dry food which is stored in an accessible location.”

Unlike his laidback feline counterpart, Grover the lizard came with a long list of demands that were readily met by the eager housemates.

They researched UV lights, heated terrariums and designed a Grover-specific meal plan.

“We all went to a local pet shop as a group, and the housemates chose the heat lamp, rocks and greenery for the inside, and we all helped put it together.”

The cold-blooded prince enjoys a life of leisure, frequently sun baking outside on Cameron or Michael’s laps. Despite the looming threat of magpies or crows, Grover is safe under the watchful eyes of his protectors.

Cameron and Narelle are instrumental in chopping up Grover’s vegetables every second morning, occasionally surprising him with a treat, like the rose petals he received on Valentine’s Day.

Like all pets, Gally and Grover have become irreplaceable in the tight-knit house, forming close bonds with the residents.

“Leigh likes to sit and watch Grover in his tank,” Donna revealed.

“Cameron will sit and pat Gally when he is heightened, and the cat slept at the end of Narelle’s bed every night when she broke her patella.”

If you are considering introducing a pet into your SIL house, contact for more information.