Humans often go to the grocery store to find something for dinner, but one people-loving sighthound got more than a meal after heading to the market.
Mr. Fry, a Greyhound–Saluki mix, got his name and a brighter future one cold winter night when he tried to walk through a store’s automatic doors in an effort to get warm.
“He was abandoned as a stray up in Maricopa, and he was trying to get into a Fry’s Food Market,” explains Jean Williams, president of Arizona Greyhound Rescue.
The rescue could tell that Mr. Fry hadn’t always been alone; it was obvious that he had some training and had spent some time in a home before ending up as a stray.
“We took him into the AGR family, and then he was adopted out to a mother and daughter, but they worked many hours and he was not good in the house while they were gone — he had separation anxiety.”
According to Williams, it’s difficult to tell what a dog’s personality is like until they’re in a new home. She says some Greyhounds can handle being by themselves, while others can’t because they’ve been together with other dogs since birth.
“They’re all the time together at the track and training, so some of them can’t do the only-dog situation,” says Williams, who adds that Mr. Fry was never a racer. The Saluki mix did not have the same background as many of his fellow AGR dogs, who were adopted after retiring from the track. While commercial dog racing has been banned in several states in recent years, the practice continues in Arizona, where AGR maintains a relationship with a track and places retired dogs in homes. Some of these dogs face similar separation issues to Mr. Fry’s, although the origins of his issues are much more mysterious.
“I just know he needed to have people around all the time to make him feel secure.”
When Mr. Fry’s first home didn’t work out, he moved in with Williams as a foster, and remained with her for a year.
“At that time, I thought he would make a good therapy dog, and I took him to therapy dog classes.”
Mr. Fry excelled at training, despite not being the most alert student. “Every time we went to do something, I’d have to wake him up,” says Williams.
As she worked with Mr. Fry, Williams and AGR continued to try to find him a home where he could be around people all the time.
When Williams heard that Sunrise Senior Living was looking for a house dog, she took Mr. Fry to the retirement facility to meet Shelley Harris, the director of sales for Sunrise at River Road.
Although Fry did chase one of the resident cats on his inaugural visit, he learned to ignore the high prey drive of his Greyhound side, and it soon became clear that Sunrise was a great fit for Mr. Fry.
“It’s not a conventional home, but it’s the home for him, and he’s with people all the time,” explains Williams.
Mr. Fry is not the only animal living at Sunrise. According to Harris, eight dogs and seven cats also call the complex home, but the big difference is that those animals moved in with their owners.
“I think often times people will look down upon a facility like ours having a pet because they believe the pets need to have one singular relationship in order for them to feel comfortable and confident,” explains Harris. “He really is contrary to that philosophy, though, because he gets so much attention and has such a wonderful quality of life here. There’s no pet that would have it any better.”
Mr. Fry spends his nights curled up on his bed in the common living room, basking the glow of the fireplace and the television. Harris believes Mr. Fry chose this high-traffic location as his favorite sleeping spot because it allows him to be part of the action all night long.
During the day, Mr. Fry can be found greeting folks as they enter the building and working his charm on all the residents.
“The little old ladies and the gentlemen pass right by him as they come out of the dining room, and unfortunately — I think this is the only downside to an environment like this — he gets so many treats,” says Harris.
“The ladies save little pieces of chicken in their purses from lunch, and then of course he smells it and follows them.”
Mr. Fry has some special relationships with some of his favorite residents, including one lady who has become his preferred napping partner.
“After every meal, she comes out of the dining room and he very slowly gets up, stretches from his most recent nap, and follows her to her suite to nap with her and her cat,” says Harris. “I’ve peeked in there and seen Mr. Fry on this gal’s bed, circled up and sleeping — and the cat is right in the middle of his circle sleeping with him.”
While he certainly does love to sleep, Mr. Fry also loves to make friends. He’s an 85-pound dog, but he’s found a pal in a tiny Dachshund who accompanies an owner to Sunrise for visits. “He follows this adult son and the Dachshund down to the mother’s suite and hangs out with them for about an hour every night.”
Mr. Fry also likes to visit with the other dogs who live in the building.
“There’s a gal whose apartment is right next to my office. She’s got a pretty barky-barky black Labrador Retriever mix, and Mr. Fry will go into her apartment, and the two of them just head out the back door and hang out on the patio.”
According to Harris, Mr. Fry never stays in one place too long, making sure to spread his cheer to as many residents as possible. In return for his service, this popular pooch is as pampered as can be. Staff take him for two walks a day, and Harris takes him to regular grooming sessions — complete with doggy facials.
Mr. Fry has got to look good; after all, he’s now a nominee for the 2015 American Humane Association Hero Dog Award. His excellent work as a therapy dog has earned him the nomination and a whole lot of love at Sunrise.
For Mr. Fry, going from having no people to having a whole community has been a miracle. This therapy dog will never be cold or hungry again — thanks to Arizona Greyhound Rescue.
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About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.