Tucson Barney Tests Greyhounds for Cat Tolerance
Sixteen-year-old Barney the Cat has made quite a name for himself in a certain Tucson canine community. Up until recently, he held an important volunteer position at Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption (SA Greys). Yes, you read that right, a cat among the hounds. A Tucson Tail blog is fortunate that he bestowed us a slice of time for this interview:
A Tucson Tail: Please give us some background…
Barney: I was rescued at 4 years from the Humane Society of So Ariz. I am big, handsome and really smart. Mama Mary loves cats. I hug, groom and sleep on her at night. Mama Diana is another story and is not as patient with my shenanigans… like yowling, scratching furniture or emptying cabinets when I get bored. She called me “Damn Cat” so often, I thought it was my name.
ATT: You are best known for being a designated greyhound cat tester? Can you explain to the uninitiated what a greyhound cat tester is and why it’s required?
Cat testing is important to determine if a greyhound can live harmoniously with a feline friend. A volunteer brings the hound on a leash wearing a muzzle (a most important accessory) to my house where I strut around and the hound checks me out, sniffing and sometimes poking me with that muzzled nose.
If the hound goes about his/her business and starts checking out other things and is pretty calm then that dog is considered cat tolerant. Some dogs are a little more interested but may be able to live with cats with training, patience and diligence on the part of experienced greyhound people. Then there are those dogs, who lunge, drool, bark and gnash their teeth and can’t stop staring and want to come after me. These dogs are not cat tolerant and can only be adopted by people who don’t have cats. Yes, I have run and hid from aggressive dogs; it’s the smart thing to do. About 50% of greys are cat tolerant.
ATT: What’s it like to live with a greyhound?
Greyhounds have always been part of my family. I display confidence with them. Buddy (top photo) taught me the ropes of family life including begging for snacks and roaching. He was my best friend and I was sad when he left. Kasey gets early morning love bumps and ear cleanings. I guess those qualities contributed to my cat tester qualifications. After 8 years of official cat testing, retirement now beckons with benefits of more snacks, more walks on leash and more naps.
ATT: So, what are your hobbies?
Barney: I love to play games…like hide and seek…I hide and everyone looks for me, even the neighbors have played this game with us. They all get in a frenzy thinking I am taking a walk about. The cat tree is my favorite perch to look out the window for birds and lizards and most importantly, to guard the house. Once at our old house, I caught a big lizard in the backyard and I played a game with Mama Mary who kept trying to take it away. Damn, she won. Mama Mary takes me for leash walks in the backyard and on the sidewalk. We are quite the sight and the talk of the neighborhood.
ATT: I’ve seen a photo of you on top of a tall cabinet. What the heck were you thinking?
Barney: I used to be able to leap tall cabinets in a single bound but not so much anymore. I liked the view from up there. It makes me feel superior — which of course — I am.
Thanks to Mamas Mary and Diana for coaxing Barney to answer this interview and for providing the photos.
Written by Karyn Zoldan