Paul Schultz dies at 79; fostered and found homes for 118 greyhounds
“When you handed a dog to him and Toni, you knew that dog was getting taken care of. They were kind of greyhound whisperers.”
An entire industry grew out of the dazzling propulsion of the greyhound.
They can hit speeds of 40 miles an hour, the fastest of any dog.
Paul Schultz fell in love with the breed, so like a cross between a Cheetah and a canine. He knew that after short bursts of high-speed energy, they like to curl up and sleep at the foot of someone they trust.
After adopting his greyhound Comet, he fostered 117 more, adopted eight of them and helped find permanent homes for the rest.
He and his wife Toni “fostered more dogs than anyone I know,” said Barbara Karant, president of Greyhounds Only, one of the nation’s biggest greyhound adoption groups.
The Vernon Hills resident died last month at 79 after a series of strokes, according to his son Howard.
The Schultzes “were go-to for any dog who had a health problem, a behavioral issue, a shy dog or just any dog I needed a home for,” Karant said. “They just said ‘sure.’’’
“He transformed them all into wonderful pets,” said Maggie Valcik, a Greyhounds Only volunteer.
Earlier this month, his friends from Greyhounds Only and the Greyhound Alliance displayed a sign in his honor at a kennel in Wisconsin, where two dozen racing “greys,’’ newly arrived from Florida, got check-ups, nail trims and ear scritches. The volunteers studied their personalities — like whether they seemed calm or cat-averse —to place them in the right homes.
An ex-smoker, Mr. Schultz always had a Dum Dum lollypop in his mouth when he volunteered at the adoption events. And he helped write witty biographies for the greyhounds to catch the eye of potential pet owners.
“He was just always willing to help,” said Patricia Madden, a Greyhounds Only volunteer.
“The hounds would connect with him. It was almost like kindred spirits,” said Karen Farnsworth, another volunteer.
“He just never let us down,” said Dr. Jenifer Barker, an owner of three greys and the former senior veterinarian at Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha, which closed in 2009. “When you handed a dog to him and Toni, you knew that dog was getting taken care of. They were kind of greyhound whisperers.”
Young Paul grew up near Irving and Narragansett and attended Steinmetz High School. Later, he lived in Rogers Park.
His father, Howard, made it to America just ahead of conscription into the Russian Army, said Mr. Schultz’s son, also named Howard.
Russian soldiers swept into a synagogue in their hometown of Ylakiai, Lithuania, and demanded all the young Jewish men join them. But Paul Schultz’s grandfather used his tallit — a prayer shawl — to cover and hide his boys.
“They were not big people. He was able to hide my grandfather and great-uncle from being taken by the Russian Army,” according to Howard Schultz.
In America, Mr. Schultz’s father started a novelty business, selling toys and plastic knickknacks out of his station wagon and basement. His mother, Marian, worked as an office manager for businesses, including David Michael, a food flavoring company. She typed so fast she routinely destroyed the rotating ball on IBM Selectric typewriters, said Mr. Schultz’s son.
Growing up, young Paul “would go and sneak out of the house and play baseball with his friends,” he said.
“He was the epitome of ’50s Americana and ’50s Chicago,” his son said. “He had very much a crooner, Dean Martin–style and swag to him.”
After high school, Paul Schultz entered the Army. Later, he used his GI benefits to attend Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
He became a teacher. By day, he taught civics at Collins High School. At night, he worked as a mechanic at a Standard station at Touhy and Western.
His future wife thought he was cute. “She would get a quarter’s worth of gas for her Buick, and dad would wash the windows,” their son said. “She’d get the tank topped off and get to see my dad.”
They married in 1972 and later moved to California, where his in-laws were retired. There, Mr. Schultz operated an auto parts store and worked for Bosch Power Tools. The Schultzes returned to the Chicago area in 2000 to be closer to grandchildren.
He was the kind of husband and father who, when his wife and son had migraines, “spent about two hours running up and down the stairs bringing us heated towels and then he went out to the garage and listened to baseball on the radio,” Howard Schultz said. “He spent three hours in the garage so he wouldn’t disturb us.”
Paul and Toni Schultz got involved with greyhounds in 1994, when an organization for the breed held an event at the Barnes and Noble where their son worked in Newport Beach, California.
At one time, “Nobody wanted those dogs,” his wife said. “They were being euthanized after their racing career or if they weren’t a good racer.”
The welfare of racing greyhounds in the U.S. began improving in the mid-1990s, according to some advocates, as a decline in the number of tracks – and related overbreeding – combined with a big adoption push.
Toni Schultz said she and her husband were riveted by “just the great loving kindness of the dog itself. The dog would look at you from the most loving eyes —‘Thank you for getting me off the track.’”
Their first grey was Comet. Sometimes, Mr. Schultz would quietly take in another dog. “My mom would leave the house, and there would be two dogs,” their son said, “and she would come home, and there would be three.”
Barker said some racing greyhounds have never navigated a step or seen a mirror or felt snow. They may hesitate at seeing a shiny tile floor because they’ve always walked on sand, grass or cement. Some have to be taught to take a treat from a hand because they’ve only received them in their kennel dish, she said.
“The dogs that were the most troubled were drawn to my mom and dad,” their son said. “Dad had a connection with the dogs with broken tails or a dog recovering from a broken leg.”
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Schultz’s survivors include his sister, Marcia, stepchildren Alan, Gary and Adam Dolinko and seven grandchildren. His grandson, Bryce, died last year. Mr. Schultz is buried at Westlawn Cemetery.
When the headstone is placed on his grave, his son said, it will have an etching of a greyhound.