Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Whippet Boyz

Cisco, March 2009

The other day, when a friend and I were discussing our favourite breeds of dogs, my thoughts turned to my friend Ellen's dogs, Kinley and Cisco, whom I affectionately call "The Whippet Boyz."

I have always been attracted to fairly large chunky short-haired dogs like labs and pittis – perhaps because I am rather chunky and short-haired myself. That is not to say that I don’t love all four of my very hairy crew, none of which are particularly chunky. I suppose I could say all four chose me, as was the case with previous non-chunky, long haired dogs I have adopted. I came by them in an unplanned, serendipitous way, mostly through rescue. The only two dogs who have fit my stereotype of those I am attracted to – Emma and Caleb – were with me for less than a year. (Hmmmm......there must be a message in that, somewhere).

Conversely, I have always been almost repulsed by the ultra-skinny breeds like greyhounds and whippets – anorexic dogs whose ribs are exposed and who look like someone forgot to feed them for the past month. Or maybe, like my reaction to ultra-skinny people who without speaking seem to question my food choices, I just feared I would be judged and rejected by them.

But, of course, dogs don’t care if we are appetizer-sized or super-sized. They may fear the person who is angry or cruel, they may protect the person who takes care of their needs, but they don’t judge a human for their size.

When Ellen adopted Kinley, I thought “What the heck does she see in him?” Yet despite his skinny little body and youthful exuberance (or perhaps because of it) he has grown on me.

Kinley in snow

But it wasn’t until she adopted 11 year old Cisco that I felt my heart turn to mush for the breed I never thought I’d like.


And then Patience Renzulli, a self-described servant to her own eight whippets, has made me laugh and cry with her stories on her blog and has made her crew so real to me that I feel I would know them if we ever met. And through her stories, I have come to appreciate the many skills and qualities of the breed. Check out this story of Sam-I-Am, attending a women’s shelter as a therapy dog.

I really doubt I will ever adopt a whippet, though, because I just know I would be driven to fatten them up until they looked more like rotund labs with pointy noses. And that probably wouldn’t be the least bit healthy for them. Oh course, if I adopted one like Kinley, who clearly reads food labels carefully for their nutritional values, I might actually lose some weight myself:

Kinley reading the ingredient list

In writing this piece, I actually came to the realization that whippets no longer look anorexic to me. Instead, I see only their shy sweet gaze, their smooth aerodynamic form, their long legs all folded into themselves, their caring hearts. They are beautiful dogs, inside and out. Kinley and Cisco, thanks for being part of my life.

Cisco napping




dp said...

I love whippets...they are one of my favorite non-herding breeds (JRTs being the other). I like to think that Willow is a particularly whippetish border collie, and I named her for her body type. She has the fine bones, the long nose, the sideways ears, the funny colour and the drive to run. She can often be found running in laps around the pasture for the sheer joy of moving. She also has that super sweet personality. I have read that whippet was bred into some border collies along the line for improved speed, and there are long-haired whippets as well.

Ramble ramble. All this to say that I hope to rescue a whippet one day. Hopefully one that would like to play flyball. The world-record setting flyball team had a whippet named Moose on it, and there is a lady in the lower mainland who runs her two with some success.

Anonymous said...

I would love to get my hands on a long haired whippet. I think they are beautiful. I'm partial to long legged racy looking dogs.
Sorry Hugo "Chunky butt" I love you dearly but long legged and racy you NOT. LOL


Black Jack's Carol said...

I wrote you a long, rambling (dp doesn't know the meaning of rambling:) message last night, so will keep this one brief. Just to say that I love the sight hound family, and have for a long time. To me, they are the perfect blend of athlete and couch potato. I enjoyed this post, and the pictures made my heart turn to mush.

Anonymous said...

We love you too Auntie Jean and are going to miss you when you and our hairy friends move.

from Kinley and Cisco

Patience-please said...

Oh! Jean! I've had my head so far buried in my studies and my travels that I missed this! Thank you for your kind words.... I must tell you that when I went to a breeder's home to get my first whippet, I felt like I had walked into a Far Side cartoon. All those woozles!
To comment on the comments:

dp- whippets are EXCELLENT at flyball and they LOVE it (loudly!)

anonymous- there is no such thing as a longhaired whippet. There is a designer breed, calling themselves such, but the original breeder was stripped of all AKC priviledges after DNA proved that his dogs were whippet-sheltie crosses. (They suffer from the heritable eye diseases which plague shelties, as well.)

Carol: absolutely!

Kinley and Cisco - gentle kisses

Again, Jean, thank you so much for your kindness. Whippets don't looks so skinny when you get accustomed. They are quite equine in shape. Art deco in those lovely curvy lines. And they are world champion cuddlers!

andrea said...

I fell in love with Whippets for the first time last summer when I met my friend, Michelle's, in Calgary. They're almost more cat-like than dog-like.