Photo by Claire Flack
Lancer comes to the Tompkins Square Dog Run for the people. One of his tricks is to flaunt his old paw injury as a ploy to get food.
BY HEATHER DUBIN |
V PET SET | Thanks to an injury to his front paw during training, Lancer — formerly known as TNJ Lancer, his racing name — escaped life on the track, and found love instead with his owners, Felicity Conrad and Jules Bouckaert, in the East Village.
The greyhound, 5½, was bred in Texas, and briefly went to a racing school in Alabama. Luckily, Lancer never made it to racer status. He came to the city via Greyhound Friends of New Jersey, Inc., a nonprofit that rescues greyhound racers in need, and places them in a foster home while they acclimate to life outside a kennel.
“They don’t know how to do stairs, and glass or mirrors are a big thing,” explained Conrad, who adopted Lancer when he was 2. Adjusting to people took some time for Lancer, but now that he’s made the transition, he goes to the Tompkins Square Park dog run to interact with humans, not dogs.
“When we first got him, he’d stay in his bed,” Bouckaert said. “As racers, they don’t have a relationship with a human, and over the past three years he’s developed a personality. He didn’t know how to love.”
Lancer has come a long way with his owners and others. Bouckaert, a global brand manager for Ralph Lauren fragrances, spoke about a favorite game of his — to hide from Lancer when they’re in the dog park.
“I’ll sneak toward the exit, and Lancer will be across the dog park,” he said. “He’ll give up pretty easily and find a new person.”
“No, he won’t!” disagreed Conrad, who took the New York State Bar Examination last week and will start practicing law at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in September.
Bouckaert assured her that once Lancer sees him, “He panics and sprints right over.”
“It’s the only way to get him to run,” Conrad joked. “Lancer is a very loyal dog,” she declared.
“Yes,” quipped Bouckaert, “I’ve seen him go with a couple of other people.”
Lancer knows some tricks for food, and even plays up his real limp when he wants something. He has an affinity for ice cubes and is a “pro” at eating watermelon.
“It’s a delicate art for him,” said Conrad, “He nibbles it so it’s even.”
“Like corn on the cob,” Bouckaert added. “He carefully eats it back and forth.”
Lancer recently discovered the pool in the dog run and “it’s been love at first sight,” said Conrad. When he runs around in a circle really fast, it’s called a “zoomie.” When he does that in the pool, it’s a “water zoomie.” He also frequently does the “apartment zoomie.”
“That’s when you notice his size when he’s leaping around the apartment,” Bouckaert said. “If you start clapping, he gets more excited, and does that for about 45 seconds. Then he lies down panting, and goes to sleep — as if he’s run a marathon.”
One of Lancer’s sisters wins a lot of races at the track. But he just likes to sleep a lot — up to 18 hours a day.
According to Bouckaert, greyhounds can run up to 45 miles per hour. But when Lancer runs with Conrad, “He’ll go for 100 meters, and that’s it for the week.”
“He’s the laziest dog,” she said. “He cuddles, and he’s the best apartment dog. He’s lazier than we are.”