I am not starstruck: why you don’t see Salukis on the street

A friend of mine, a fellow dog groomer, opened a small shop in what is known as a fashionable part of town.  I helped her move some stuff, so she invited me out for coffee.  I hesitated, because I had my dogs—a Saluki and a Whippet—in the car.  Well, my friend knew of an outdoor cafe a block from her store, so I got the blanket out of the trunk (for the dogs to lay on), and we walked over to a little place & sat down and ordered coffee.

We had been there a few minutes, just chatting, when  a voice I recognized said, “Excuse me, what kind of dog is that?”  The voice belonged to…let’s just say a well known talk show host/actress/producer…also known for collecting dogs.  She is a jet setter, owns several homes, and has someone managing her ‘kennel’.   I am not sure how many dogs she has right now.  I know it’s more than two, because I know who grooms those dogs.  In grooming, it is a small world.

What are the odds?  Well, she owns a condo not far from where we were having coffee.  She also had another  celebrity with her.  He just smiled.

I hesitated.  I always do when  anyone asks me about Dazzle, my Saluki.  Too many people get dogs because they like how the dog looks, without any regard to the dog’s temperament or personality.  This happened to Afghan Hounds in the late 1960s and through the 1970s.  So many dogs  emotionally and physically abused by total idiots who wanted a ‘cool dog’.  Ugh!

So I lied.  I said, “He’s a  greyhound mix.”

My friend, who turned out to be starstruck, said, “Oh, Robyn!  He is not a mix! He’s a Saluki!”

I just felt sick.  When someone famous wants your breed, it can be the start of the ruination of it.

The celebrity said, “Why didn’t you want to  say what kind of dog  this is?”

I took a deep breath , hesitated to collect my thoughts, and said, “When I first became interested in dogs, I was not attracted to this breed.  But I work with dogs, and got to know a lot of dogs, and spend time with purebred dogs, and the more I learned about this breed, the more I saw that this breed suited me.  But they are not for everyone.  They tend to be aloof. They are not cuddly. They are quiet, often shy.  They love their people.  They don’t like crowds, or many other dogs, but they  like other sighthounds like themselves.”

“You work with dogs, ” she said.

“Yes, we are groomers.  My friend here owns a small shop  a few blocks away.

“Your groomer, Billy, used to work for me!”  my friend added.

There was a moment of awkward silence.

“I have several dogs,” the celebrity said.

“Yes, we know,” my friend and I said in unison.  Then we laughed.

I could see the celebrity was somewhat speechless.

“I don’t often bring the dogs out in public because I know he is really a traffic stopper.  But he is more than that to me.  The breed is more than that to me. They  don’t all have such pretty heads. They aren’t all well-behaved in public.  But they  all are very sensitive, and most of us who become owners have owned Afghan Hounds or another sighthound, and we know what we are getting into.  When people choose a dog for a pet because they like how the dog looks, without researching how the breed is as a pet, many  end up unwanted, and irresponsible breeders  add to the number of unwanted pets.  I don’t want to be any part of that.  In fact, I know you are a supporter of  an animal shelter in this area, and have gotten several purebred dogs from that shelter.  I also know you weren’t told the complete truth about how they got those puppies.  Were it not for ethical hobby breeders, there would be no purebred dogs. , and when ethical breeders accidentally sell  their dogs to people who have lied to them, and try to get the dogs back before they are surrendered to shelters, and the shelters refuse to give the puppies back to the breeders willing to be responsible for them, because the shelter  decision makers know they can get publicity placing those dogs with a celebrity…it is not rescue. Those shelters are as bad as puppy mills.”

“Thank you for the information,” the celebrity said, and walked away.

I was shaking with  outrage, and my friend said, “Good for you for telling her the truth.”

“I don’t think I will ever take Dazzle out in public ever again,”  I said. ” Too risky.”

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