Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Land Shark Revelations

I get to retire in one year, two months, six days, and fourteen hours. It has always been my dream to retire to a horse farm and give riding lessons. This means: 1) I need to find my farm, 2) I need to have enough money to purchase my farm, 3) In order to get said money, I have to sell my house, 4) In order to sell my house, it has to look nice.

When I bought my house, it was owned by a family of anal retentive…. obsessive-compulno-fun clean frea… extremely neat persons. The yard was pristine, grassy, flowery, perfect.

Therein lies the problem. It isn’t anymore, and this is why:

I have dogs. Multiple dogs. Multiple BIG dogs. Greyhound dogs, to be exact. I also volunteer with a local greyhound adoption agency. This means I not only have greyhounds, I try to make sure as many other people as possible have them as well.

Greyhounds can run fast – 45 miles per hour, in fact, but they are sprinters. They run like crazy for about a quarter of a mile and then they’re done for the day. A greyhound is basically a cat in a dog-shaped body. They sleep most of the time, only bothering to get up for food or to find a squishier couch. You would be hard-pressed to find a mellower, sweeter, more house-friendly pooch.

Unless they are puppies. The greyhound community calls puppies "land sharks." Eight years ago, I discovered that they call them this for a reason. Greyhound puppies, I discovered, are busy. I discovered this when we decided to provide foster care for three of them.

Morning Glory. Daisy. Dandelion. Two petite black girls and one big yellow boy from a "whoopsie" litter of five. They had all been named after flowers – a good move on the part of the adoption agency, who clearly knew they were gilding the lily, so to speak. Sweet-faced, cuddly, round little spuds who had not yet grown into their streamlined greyhound shape. They licked our faces and squirmed charmingly as my friend and I put them in a crate in my car. Their brown button eyes shined calmly at us from their crate and they seemed eager to begin this new adventure.

Until I turned on the ignition.

Then all hell broke loose. They screamed. They whined. They peed. They pooped. They drooled and barfed. For forty-five minutes the puppies added new and increasingly offensive sounds and smells to their repertoire.

Immediately upon reaching my driveway, they stopped screaming. They wagged their spindly little tails and asked to be picked up and cuddled. Oh, how they stank. They stank to high heaven. And they were laughing at us. They laughed as only greyhounds can laugh, with a wide, eye-crinkling, tongue-lolling, ear-to-ear doggy grin.

Holding each filthy, grinning bundle at arm’s length, my friend and I rushed them all into the bathtub. We were followed by John’s border collie, Lacy, and Miss Sissy, my mellow, beautifully behaved princess of a greyhound.

Sissy made sure nobody hurt any puppies during bath time. Sissy licked them dry afterwards. Sissy had raised puppies before, and it looked like she had volunteered to raise these as well.

As Sissy dutifully herded them out the back door, I turned to my friend and said, “Wow, this is going to be easy!”

I lied.


Sissy stepped off the porch and promptly began teaching the puppies how to dig up my moss roses. She’d break the ground, then step aside and let the little ones have a go. Lacy decided she also enjoyed this game, and dug herself a clubhouse under the concrete slab. Dandelion was bouncing along, happily wolfing down clumps of the loose dirt.*

Morning Glory, the smartest of the three, became bored with digging holes and discovered that pulling up the drip irrigation system was much more fun. And look! A garden hose! What happens if I bite it? A fountain! Pretty!

If I grabbed one, the others would dance away and start digging someplace else. What fun, this silly lady who tucks you under her arm like a football and runs around the yard chasing after your siblings and uttering colorful metaphors!

It had only been a few hours since the Land Shark Invasion of 2003, but the Pristine Family’s manicured back yard was a real mess. There were holes in the pristine lawn. There were flowers missing from the pristine rose bushes. The pristine porch was sprayed with sand and debris. There was dirt where there should be grass, and divots of sod where there should be dirt. There was irrigation tubing spouting, leaking, sticking up everywhere.

Mr. and Mrs. Pristine would have been horrified. I felt a pang of guilt for ruining all their hard work, but only for a second.

As I surveyed the wreckage, I saw Lacy adding some square footage to her newly-dug den. Sissy was grinning her best greyhound grin, lying upside down on the remnants of the lawn with her new foster children climbing all over her.

“No, no," I laughed. "Bad dogs!” I laughed until I got the hiccups. “No, no, no, no, no!”

It was then that I realized something very important. Mr. and Mrs. Pristine no longer had any say in the matter. I am not a pristine person. I much prefer sharing the couch with my dogs to fur-free upholstery. I’d rather come home to goofy greyhound grins in my slobber-covered windows than a spotless museum of a house any day. From the moment those puppies arrived, my house became my home.

Now it’s time to sell my house, and I understand that it will have to be made pristine again for a new family.

I hope they have puppies.


*When my husband came home that evening and met the puppies, Dandelion proudly pooped a poop made entirely of the sand he had sucked up earlier. “We’re keeping this one,” John said, and promptly renamed him “Hoover.” (He was not named after the president.)


Morning Glory and Hoover

Daisy and Lacy

Hoover and Sissy


  1. Oh my! I remember you telling me how Daisy used to carry Lacy's collar around. :) They were so cute!

  2. Heather, I have a picture of Daisy and that collar someplace. I'll send it to you. Daisy thought Lacy was the bee's knees and copied everything she did. :-)

  3. Personally, I'd never buy a pristine house. Every time I see a clean, neat house, I always figure there's bodies hidden in the basement or behind a false wall.

  4. I have the picture! Not sure if I've told you this, but Daisy still likes dragging around collars....only now, there's usually a dog still in them. She's bossy and drags the boys all over the place.

  5. So glad that you shared this. Happy days! And the Neats never need know what happened to their pristine house. Bet it wasn't always like that anyway.

    1. Hi Jack! Unfortunately, I think the house *was* always that neat. Truth be told, The Pristines were the tight-ass-iest people I ever met in my life. They took off their shoes before stepping on the carpets. Yikes. Yes, happy days indeed. Messy as hell and full of laughter. Wish I had them back. Thanks for visiting. :-)

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.