"A WHIPPET !" said the little old lady, and the little old man looked delighted. (Not a pug, then, after all, he thought. Thank Goodness for that .)
The Little Old Lady (LOL) had spent many weeks getting information on all sorts of breeds of dog, as she and the Little Old Man (LOM) had always had 2 dogs in the house, and had mourned for a year the loss of their last Pointer, leaving them with only a labrador. The LOL said that she only married the LOM because he had a black labrador and there was love at first sight between her and the LOM's dog. They had had adored labradors and beloved pointers, usually getting the next puppy when the older dog was roughly middle-aged, and never being without 2 dogs for more than a year in between. After 45 years the LOL began to think that she should look for another breed of dog, which would be smaller and not so strong, but would enjoy walks in the country. (The pug idea was more or less a JOKE, although the LOL had met some delightful pugs and imagined she might have one, some day.)
So the LOL decided that the next dog should be A WHIPPET! The whippet description met all the priorities for the life which the couple could offer a dog, and both of them had met and admired beautiful whippets in the past. But they had never lived with a whippet.
The LOL started to look for a breeder and found one who was KC approved and bred whippets to be family pets from her home, which was not too far away. The LOL put her name on the waiting list for the next litter, requesting a bitch to join her labrador bitch. The breeder sent weekly photos of the pregnant whippet mother, and in due course, the most exciting photos of all, with a litter of 2 girls and 4 boys, all blue and white parti coloured. The LOL went to see the puppies and was able to choose one of the 2 bitches, who had a heart-shaped marking on her back. Then came the long wait until the puppies were 8 weeks old and able to leave their mother and brothers and sisters.
What a joyful day it was, at the end of May 2012, when the baby whippet (named Willow) was brought to her home. It was so easy to fall in love with the new arrival. Such a snuggly, warm and cuddly little thing. She was good too, learning quickly and wobbling about on the grass in the garden finding out about everything new in the big wide world (which was now a kitchen and big garden, instead of one room, with her mother and siblings). The sun shone for that first week, and the LOL got up very very early every morning and sat outside in the garden most of the day, watching the new puppy and enjoying spending time with her. Bramble, the labrador, was very excited and pleased with the new visitor and wondered how long it was going to stay. She tried to play, and didn't understand why the games had to be carefully supervised and stopped quite quickly before they got too rough.
The couple found all sorts of whippety behaviours which were quite different from any other dog they had owned. The whippet could whip through any doorway and up through the house in seconds; she barged with her body when playing; she flew from one arm chair to the next and, if she did touch the ground in between, it was too quick to be seen; she was very intelligent and quick to learn everything, so the first months were a huge lesson. She didn't finish her meals if she didn't want any more at that time, and was looked astonished if the LOL or the LOM didn't offer her exactly what she had ordered from the menu for that day. But it was tough love in the house, and she soon learnt that food was picked up (if not gobbled by the labrador first), so she ate up pretty well before very long.
She has achieved a fair amount in the way of destruction so far, a speciality being the kitchen mats, which are so rewarding to unravel from the backs. The most expensive item up to now has been a watch left on the kitchen table, which cost a great deal to have repaired and surprised the watch-mender by the strength of the teeth needed to do the damage.
Walks with a labrador of very strong-will and selective deafness if some more interesting activity is discovered, have meant that the LOL has mostly only been able to let one dog at a time off the lead to run and it has been hard work sometimes. Willow has been to puppy classes and is now working towards her bronze medal. She is a joy at school and loves being occupied in her mind, as well as having physical exercise as part of her daily routine. She is booked in for puppy-introduction to agility classes starting in January. In the home, she has quickly become dominant bitch, because Bramble (the lab.) has never ticked her off, and has no idea how to be cross with her. So now Bramble has to be rescued from the games when they get too rough and the little bossy Miss W.W. is not giving up.
Visits from grandchildren have been fairly hectic and, of course, doors which are usually shut against Whippet inspections are left open and bits of toys taken and destroyed before anyone has blinked. Children are Willow's favourite visitors and everyone seems to love her, especially now she is past the nipping teeth on backs of legs stage.
For older people who have had many years of dog ownership, and for whom dogs are the most important part of their lives (maybe equal with children and grandchildren ?) the first 6 months of being whippet-people has been: enchanting/exhausting/exhilarating/infuriating (very seldom!)/delightful and challenging.
The LOL and the LOM have lost their hearts to another dog, but not just any other dog : A WHIPPET !