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Home evaluation for a potential greyhound owner

May 12, 2008 |  3:28 pm

Riley_mug_shotLos Angeles Times Entertainment Editor Betsy Sharkey is in the process of adopting a greyhound, Riley, at right, that used to race at the Caliente Racing Track in Tijuana. She will periodically post updates on his assimilation into her family here on L.A. Unleashed. Today she writes about her home evaluation:

I knew I was in trouble when I rushed out at the last minute to buy fresh flowers for just about every room in the house. One of those strangely obsessive moments that you're pretty sure you'll be discussing in a therapist's office one day.

Beverly from Greyhound Pets of America was coming to interview me and check out my home to make sure we were greyhound compatible. Somehow I had decided that fresh flowers would make the difference in getting my application to adopt approved.

Or maybe I was subconsciously hoping the flowers would distract from the coiled energy that is Max. I went out again with Max in tow, hoping that a quick run would suddenly turn him into the docile, mellow breed that English Setters are known to be.

I'm seven months into life with Max, a three-walk-a day puppy who never seems to tire, so clearly I'd completely lost touch with reality.

Back from the walk, I'm flagging, Max is bouncing and there is Beverly waiting with a beautiful, calm (there's that zen quality again) black and white greyhound that she'd named Patches. Beverly, I learn, has a minimum of four dogs at home -- two greyhounds and two collies that are hers, and the greyhounds she takes in to foster. I think she must be a saint.

We talked for a couple of hours about why I want a greyhound, the pros and cons of adopting this breed, my background as a pet owner (very good, by the way). All the while, Max is in perpetual motion, Patches is unfazed and Beverly doesn't blink an eye. This is good. I'm breathing easier. Maybe the flowers are working.

On to the yard evaluation. My backyard, with its 6-foot-high fences and dog path, gets an A. The pool, my favorite thing about the house, is not a plus. There's a myth that greyhounds can't swim, that their body design and muscle-to-fat ratio makes them sink. Not true, it turns out, so the pool can stay. Whew!

All of the greyhound adoption groups I looked at have a fairly detailed application process, including a list of about 30 different behavioral problems that might lead you to return a dog (most groups require that if for any reason you can no longer provide for your greyhound, you return it to them).

It was hard to admit that there were things that would cause me to give up a dog, but I tried to be brutally honest, checking things like aggression, uncontrolled urges to pee in the house, plays Metallica at midnight. ... Thankfully, no one held that against me.

I went through a similar process with GreySave, being interviewed by Judy, who it turns out had been the volunteer at my veterinarian's office with the handsome tuxedo greyhound, George. Judy fosters both dogs and cats and pretty much makes herself available 24/7 to greyhounds in need.

In the end, I was approved by GPA, but put on hold by GreySave until Max matures a little more. (All the reading I've done on greyhounds, English setters, puppies, rescue adoptions, etc. has taught me is that if your dog is a problem, the problem is most likely you. Sorry Max, but thanks for taking the fall.)

Now I'm just waiting for a call from Beverly to see if they've found a greyhound match.

Next up: Why not Bobby

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