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Riley the greyhound enjoys the superstar life

June 17, 2008 | 12:51 pm

Los Angeles Times Entertainment Editor Betsy Sharkey is in the process of adopting a greyhound named Riley that used to race at the Caliente racing track in Tijuana. She periodically posts updates on his assimilation into her family here on L.A. Unleashed.

Beautiful_markings I've been lucky when it comes to my canine companions; they've all been the sorts of dogs that draw attention. Rosie, my Neapolitan mastiff, was 128 pounds of silver sheen, a wonderfully wrinkled face and soulful green eyes. She moved with a fluid grace that was more lion than dog and never lived a moment of her 12 years under the radar.

My English setter puppy Max, with a big black patch over his left eye and the personality of a renegade pirate to match, has been attracting crowds since the day in November when he landed at LAX straight from Havelock Setters in North Dakota when he was 2 months old.

But Riley? Well, he's just turning out to be superstar material. All greyhounds are blessed with beautiful lines -- deep chests that sweep up into an amazingly trim body, sleek heads that look aerodynamically perfect, ears that are as expressive as their eyes, slender prancing legs and a tail that makes a long graceful "J" to cap it all off.

Even there, Riley is extraordinary -- at certain angles he looks like a pen-and-ink drawing, with precise rivers of black coursing through an underlying palette of reddish brown. But it's more than that. Riley has presence.

When people come up to him, and they do in droves, it's as if he radiates a sort of magnanimity that just encircles them, draws them in. They don't talk to him exactly -- they talk about him, around him, in reverent tones.

"Is he a greyhound?" He is. "How long have you had him?" He's about 2 months off the track now. "Does he still race?" No, he's finished with that. "I think it's so wonderful that you did that, adopt him." I'm the lucky one, I'm grateful, he rescued me....

When someone reaches out to pet him, as they inevitably do, they move gently and their touch is light. None of the hugs and squeals that Max gets on a routine basis. Riley just stands and takes it all in, infinitely patient, willing to stay as long as the fans want.

Of course, Riley's new to the whole superstar life and over time he may tire of the paparazzi and push the autograph hounds away. For now, he remains humbled by the attention, content with his moment in the spotlight, grabbing his beauty sleep when he can, though he did mention the other day that he might be in the market for a new agent....

Next up: More of Riley's history surfaces

Photo: Betsy Sharkey

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