L-R Emmy (lying down), Drama, Kendra, Savannah & Teya

2 June 2014

How Did We Get Here?!

When you own a dog or two people look at your little canine family and think 'aww, how sweet, how normal', and things are good, and you expect to see your vet once a year for your annual vaccinations, and maybe once more for good measure if an injury happens on a walk, or a small illness takes hold.  

When your pack expands beyond that two to something like, say, five, the general public looks at you and your number of dogs as abnormal, strange, they think there must be something wrong in your wiring - you are the 'crazy dog people' or worse - you are 'hoarders' or 'collectors'.  And with those numbers come several vet visits per year due to the regular things like 5 sets of vaccinations, illnesses that then go through every dog, scratches and tears that come from the play (especially with a thin-skinned breed like a whippet).  You are on a first name basis with every member of your vet practice and you're sure you've helped pay for a huge portion of that new piece of medical equipment they are now using on your pooch.

And it never happens one here, one there.  It always happens in clusters.  We can go a few months without seeing a vet, but then as soon as we go in once we will be there at least once or twice a week guaranteed for the next month or two.  Never fails!

For example - we'd done quite well since January.  Just a round of boosters for everyone, then the day before we went on holiday in mid-April Teya got a puncture which needed more than just my regular in-home care (following the advice of vets after previous punctures), so the in-laws, who were whippet-sitting, had to take her to the vet as we were driving to the airport.  The next day Emmy came down with a virus that hit her hard, and she actually ended up in the vets on a drip for a day.  Poor pups - poor in-laws.

We arrived home from holiday at the beginning of May to take care of that bill, and then 2 weeks later booked Savvy in because she was being funny about eating (though in every other way she's doing great!).  She wanted to eat, but then sometimes she would just stop - like she had a sore tooth.  Turns out she does have a slight gum infection, so we have her booked in for a dental for this coming Tuesday.  In the meantime on Friday Kendra got a tear which wouldn't stop bleeding so off to the out of hours vet for stitches, and then Saturday she and her grandma Teya found a bowl of cooked chicken wing bones (bad mummy - we are obsessive about things like that, so I cannot believe I let that happen) and had themselves a snack before I caught them.  No vet visit, but lots of worry and watching and making them eat lots of soft food like bread and rice to help cushion the sharp bones, and 36 hours later (touch wood) all seems to still be ok.  And as you can see -  it clusters.

So never a dull moment when you have 5.  But how did we get here?  I have a few answers to that question...

I blame Chelsea for being the best dog in the whole world.  Our heart dog.  Discovering the whippety parts of her personality then led us to the whippet breed.  You can read more about how she is responsible for this on her website page HERE and by reading Chelsea's Legacy (be prepared with some tissues for that one).

Dawn & Richard Mason - Aphrael Whippets
I blame Dawn and Richard because they bred and graced us with the beautiful Savannah from their first litter under the Aphrael kennel name.  She is everything a whippet should be - beauty, speed, elegance, loving, and she has an amazing sense of humour.  She's a social butterfly and loves everyone.  She truly spoiled us for any other whippet.  They then introduced us to showing whippets, which put us in the orbit of other people just as dog and whippet-mad as we had become, which led to our next whippet from them, Teya (out of Savannah's sister), and then they encouraged us to consider breeding.  Need I say more?

I lay a huge portion of the blame with Patience.  Her writing on the whippet email lists about her whippets (she had NINE - five doesn't sound so bad now does it!!) and their adventures just captured us.  Way back when it was just us and Chelsea we read her tales of their experiences and longed for a houseful.  A few months after we moved to a house with a garden (yard for the North Americans) and got Savannah, Nick said, after reading a Patience story, that he would happily have half a dozen whippets if we could.

Through email lists and message boards Patience became a treasured friend; she helped supply my collar and lead addiction; she became a co-manager of Whippet World (a great whippet message board); she visited us one year and our girlies (by then we had 3) adored her on sight.  I think they recognised her scent from the many packages of collars that had arrived through the post over the years.  And then she actually published her stories in a book called 'Mama Pajama Tells a Story'.  And we read the stories and we laughed and we cried, and we wanted more whippets.

Now I am absolutely positive when Patience penned 'Adventures in Bungee Walking' (where she describes creating a contraption to help her walk her then 7 whippets at once, and where they race off after some type of prey and she flies behind them and lands in a thorny hedge), or any of her other stories about the whippets pulling her over or making her fall down, and the many injuries she sustained, that she did not envision those stories as enticements to get more whippets.  I am truly certain she wrote them as cautionary tales.  But she also wrote about love, and friends, and devotion and these amazing dogs who are so precious.  And somehow all of those beautiful word pictures seeped into our subconscious and I believe they played a HUGE role in our ever expanding whippet pack.


And so somehow we now have five.  We were up to six for a year until we lost Chelsea. We spent a few months at eight when two boys from our last litter took a few extra months to find their forever homes.  And our house is chaotic and manic, and we have weeks on end where things just seem to go wrong and everyone has a vet visit. But we also have lots of laughs (just last week I wrote a Facebook post about Kendra who, in the middle of a whippet wrestling match, accidentally executed a perfect back flip off our bed and landed on her dog bed on the floor), lots of love and lots cuddles, cuteness and sweetness.

Of course there are days that things take their toll and I feel myself longing for the ease of just two.  But then one (usually the one who has just driven me out of my mind) will crawl up in my lap and tuck their head under my chin, or press the side of their head against my lips so I can smooch that soft spot in front of their ears, and I melt and everything is fine again. And to be honest there's not a single one of them I would part with. 

Seriously - this is just too cute!!