He's one popular pooch.
More than 100 applicants from around the city are vying to adopt Ghost Dog, an itinerant beast who harmlessly haunted Prospect Park for four years before getting picked up by Sean Casey Animals Rescue last May.
The 109-pound Cane Corso mastiff, who Casey caught in the park after noticing the normally playful giant acting sick, has since been nursed back to health, the Lyme disease that caused his odd behavior now in remission.
Eight months later, Ghost Dog is finally ready for a permanent home, and Casey is still taking applications—in addition to the more than 100 he already has.
"I’ll accept applications until I have someone I feel is perfect," Casey said. "The more applicants I have, the more opportunities for him."
But the process of adopting Ghost Dog is rigorous. Candidates must first fill out a paper form, which requires such information as how many people live in the household, whether the applicant has any other pets, whether they have a yard with a fence, and whether they rent their home or own it.
From here, the application begins to dig a little deeper. Casey wants the name and contact information for three personal references, and if they have one, the name and number of their veterinarian.
He also wants to know if they've ever given up a pet. Casey said several would-be adopters have admitted to surrendering their previous animals for any number of reasons, be it landlord issues or realizing you can't just keep a baby tiger in your car.
"That’s not going to fly," he said. "We’re looking for the ones that we know this dog is going stay with, no matter what."
If Ghost Dog is Harvard, Sean Casey is the Dean of Admissions. And as with most elite schools and desirable jobs, looking good on paper isn't enough. Casey wants more.
While he's still in the process of reviewing the paperwork, Casey has whittled the number of applicants down to five top contenders he feels have the mettle required of a Ghost Dog owner.
Then come the interviews.
"The next step is to talk to the people, and get a personal feeling toward them," he said. "We need to see how Ghost interacts with them, and they with him."
But sociability is only half the battle. Ghost Dog's owner must have the physical strength to control a muscular dog prone to panicking in unfamiliar environments.
"Everyone says 'I can handle him, it's no problem—then they grab the leash and say 'Oh, maybe I can’t.'"
"When he gets spooked and he wants to go, you have to be able to stop him."
That said, Ghost Dog is coming around more and more each day. The once skittish animal who cowered in his cage has developed a sense of confidence, and SCAR staff regularly walk him on a lead outside the shelter like they would any other dog.
"He has less fear. He's been desensitized to a lot," Casey said, adding that powerful pooch used to creep along the ground when walked, "almost like a rodent."
"Now he walks proud. He keeps his head up," Casey said.
Having experience owning a large dog is a big plus. Had a mastiff? Even better.
Applicants should also be warned that while Ghost Dog is very friendly, up to date on all his shots and neutered, the years living on his own have left him far from perfectly potty trained.
Anyone who thinks they would make a good owner for the living legend of Prospect Park should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be many qualified candidates, but in the end, only one will take Ghost Dog home.
"Just because you don’t get Ghost Dog doesn’t mean you're not a good dog owner," Casey said. "He has to pick you, too."