I read several books before deciding on this breed. Here are some things I picked up: Whippets are sighthounds. This makes them… different. Whippets are rather independent. They are certainly trainable, but are easily distracted. And, because they have the fastest acceleration of all dogs (they’ve been clocked at over 35 mph), you would be wise to NEVER let them off-lead unless you’re in an enclosed area. If some cat, dog or rabbit catches a whippet’s attention, his strong prey drive means he will be on the chase and GONE… a small spec in the distance… a vague memory. Bye, bye whippet!
They are also loyal, curious, expressive, love to snuggle and simply adorable.
Armed with this knowledge, in August of last year, I began to search for a whippet pup.
I was lucky enough to locate a reputable breeder with pups available in Raleigh, NC—only a short trip down the highway from my home in Richmond, VA. And—more luck—she had a male in her recent litter that needed a non-show home. He had been born monorchid (a term which means only one testicle is descended from the abdomen), and so was not suitable for breeding or the show ring. After a lengthy and thorough interview, and with references checked, I went to pick him up September 18th.
And so began one of the best years of my dog-owning life.
Although he has a lengthy and impressive-sounding AKC name, I christened my boy Wingnut. “Wing” because he’s fast, and “nut” in anticipation of crazy whippet antics. He certainly lives up to his name. From that day to this, there is only one word I can use to describe our relationship: joy.
He is a happy little man and he makes me laugh every day. He is silly, mischievous, inquisitive to a fault, stubborn, loving, energetic and lazy. Even watching him sleep is endearing, especially if he is in the classic “cockroach” position.
When he reached six months of age, I decided Wingnut was big enough to hold his own at the dog park. What a special day that was! For the first time, I was able to watch him do what he does best—run flat out. It was, and is, a beautiful sight. We are regulars at the dog park now, going for an hour and a half, four times a week. Wingnut is a minor celebrity there: everyone loves to watch him run; everyone wants him to play with their dog so they can be certain their dog goes home worn out. He tries hard to oblige.
Whippetudes: Things I have learned.
Wingnut, like many whippets, has two speeds: Full Stop and GO! He likes to sleep. A LOT. But when he is ready to play and run, I have to be ready to keep up. We play endless hours of “Throw.” With other dogs, this game is called “Fetch.” The Wingnut version involves chasing whatever I’ve thrown but never, ever giving it back.
Wingnut has pogo sticks built into his legs. These “go off’ every now and then. This usually happens during play, although a loud roll of thunder can also trigger the mechanism. (Picture a dog that, without appearing to really move at all, completes two 180 degree spins in under a second. He can go from curled up asleep to on his feet and at attention before you can blink.)
Wingnut is a yoga master. He is very bendy, and can curl up into a tiny ball which defies the length of his body. It really is quite impressive.
Wingnut takes up more room in a bed than two dogs weighing more than twice as much. This seems to be impossible, yet it is true. I have awoken to find myself scrunched up, sleeping across the head of the bed. My 35 lb. whippet has taken possession of the rest of the mattress real estate.
Wingnut will eat anything—ANYTHING. Bottle tops, rocks, pieces of glass, pieces of plastic, pieces of wood; carpet, carpet, carpet; toilet paper, printer paper, paper towels, paper bags, plastic bags, nails, coins, debit cards, library cards, birthday cards, books, bookmarks, matchbooks, socks, bras, shoes… he will even eat pickles and radishes. But NOT his kibble.
Having come to appreciate whippets in general and Wingnut in particular, I have decided to get him a very special anniversary present: a whippet of his very own! I pick her up on September 17th.* I sure hope he has as much fun with her as I have with him!
*It is September 10th as I write this.