Saturday, July 23, 2011

Grey-Land

Recently, Izzy got back from her first “greyhound vacation,” all panting and smiles.  We had been out of the country for two and a half weeks, and before we left, we had spent months pondering what we would do with our girl while we were away.  Boarding for such a long stint seemed like animal cruelty, we didn’t want to impose on family, and we couldn’t seem to find an available pet sitter.  Then, on two separate occasions, Scott and I were randomly told about a woman in Aledo who operates essentially a greyhound paradise.  With only the woman’s name to go by, we looked her up the old-fashioned way—using a phone book—and lucked out. 

My first phone conversation with Sylvia Krause left me with a one-word impression: intense.  She owned many greyhounds herself, and she launched into a full-blown interrogation of me to see how Izzy would get along with them.  She asked about age, energy level, and whether or not she was an “alpha female.”  Apparently, my answers weren’t satisfactory enough; Sylvia wanted Izzy to visit before she would agree to take her for a few weeks.  Might I remind you here that we would be paying her for her services.

Still, we obliged with the in-person interview, and within moments of entering Sylvia’s home, I realized that my first impression of “intense” didn’t quite capture it.  Clearly, this woman was the greyhound world’s version of a cat lady.  First, there was the Greyhound Room: a large room with a grand piano, fireplace, and five dog beds, atop which sat five panting greyhounds.  In the breakfast nook, there was the Memorial Wall, an entire wall covered with pictures of deceased greyhounds the woman had owned.  I kid you not—there were at least 30.  Greyhound paraphernalia peppered the rest of the house in the form of statues, figurines, paintings, and pictures.  But the best part was the dog park-size back yard.  Or maybe it was the fact that there was not a crate or kennel in sight.  If Izzy passed the interview, she would have the run of a huge house dedicated to greyhounds for two and a half weeks.  She would have a ball.    

Fortunately, Izzy’s charms worked, and we were able to book a stay at Grey-Land.  Never have we felt better about leaving our sweet girl.  While we were away, Sylvia sent several status reports in the form of emails, which told us about Izzy’s stubborn but sweet personality, her affinity for stealing the others’ food, and her successful attempts to sneak into Sylvia’s bed at night.  Yep, that was our dog.  She also sent pictures, and in each, Izzy was smiling the way only a dog in doggy paradise can.  We began to worry that after two and a half weeks, Izzy either wouldn’t remember us or would refuse to get in the car to go home.

So when the time came, I braced myself to have to re-introduce myself to a dog who had lived with us for over six months.  Fortunately, my worry was met with a helicopter tail and several desperate attempts to jump into my arms.  Izzy remembered us and was happy to see us.  Still, her happy and relaxed demeanor told me everything I needed to know.  For the past two and a half weeks, she had indeed been in greyhound heaven.  To top it off, Sylvia had prepared a memento of Izzy’s first stay: a collage of Izzy pictures during her first “greyhound vacation” (see image on the right).  It’s now hanging on our fridge.
 
As intense as Sylvia may be, we couldn’t be more happy that we’ve found such a wonderful caregiver.  If you’re a greyhound owner in the DFW area and are looking for someone to look after your dog while you’re away, we definitely recommend Sylvia Krause in Aledo, Texas.  Cross your fingers, though, that you’ll pass the interview.