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Unusually mellow children, wonderfully mellow dogs

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By MARLENE SOKOL, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 3, 2002


WESTCHASE -- Getting a haircut with children along is its own special brand of crazy. My children, anyway.

But the stylist called in sick on Saturday, leaving us in dire need of a family-friendly salon.

We found a great one at Fantastic Sams in Westchase. Not only did they clip us all, they had the kids wait for me at an activity table brimming with books and toys. No voices raised, no public humiliation. Price for three, before tip: $31.90.

Instead of the usual ice cream bribe, we had pizza at Marina's next door. Yet another new offering for the Westchase palate. The ambience was New York and the pizza was very close to New York. New York service, too, but maybe they were having an off day.

* * *

IT'S A DOG'S LIFE -- We were out that way because Greyhound Rescue & Adoption had planned a birthday party at the Citrus Park PetSmart store for Lulu, a 14-year-old red brindle.

Intriguing, right?

Turns out Lulu couldn't make it. She was resting up at her foster home from a bout of bleeding gums.

But a whole passel of greyhounds -- Angel, Maggie, Lucy -- were lounging on the Mexican carpet, decked out in designer collars.

"They're mellow," said Eric Scheffler of Carrollwood's Hampton Park. He's the adoptive father of three greyhounds. "As you can see, they take their retirement seriously."

There's a difference between adopting and foster parenting a greyhound. Think of it like children. Foster parents take in these lovable and very pettable beauties on a short-term basis. To adopt, you must pass inspection, and that includes a home visit from the nonprofit organization.

Greyhounds are "retired" from racing as early as 18 months old. To find out more, call 971-4732. Log onto www.GREAT-GREYHOUND.org.

Or come to the club's next meet-and-greet at the University-area PetSmart this Saturday. They return to the Citrus Park store on May 10. Meetings run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

* * *

TOO MUCH! -- Nothing wrong with having a Starbucks on every corner.

But did you ever stand in line when all the customers were on cell phones? And several of them were announcing, "I'm at Starbucks"? What do they think when they watch us from other planets?

* * *

KILL THAT CLICHE -- Last week's column raised some blood pressure in Odessa.

Kate Newcomer wondered why I used the phrase "Glad I Work" to introduce an item about our PTA's purchase of copy paper for the school. Was I too good for PTA? she e-mailed. Did I look down on parents, such as herself, who had given up paid careers to focus on children, church and community?

I fired back a very long recitation of my own PTA duties -- peddling pumpkins, hawking T-shirts, typing thousands of names into the yearbook and sometimes even spelling them right. I asked Ms. Newcomer not to make assumptions about me, but there's a bigger point:

Don't assume, if you have a paid job, that you cannot get involved in PTA. They need you. Your children will reap huge benefits. Their school will be better for your efforts, no matter how infrequent. Insist that they accommodate your schedule.

It's like Weight Watchers. You might feel like an idiot. But it works.

Ms. Newcomer, who was dashing out to chaperone second-graders at the Florida Aquarium, also suggested we retire the "stay-at-home-mom" cliche. "I really don't spend that much time at home," she wrote.

Here, here.

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