Whippet Fact #2: A Rather Furry Hot Water Bottle

Last Monday, we identified that whippets’ origins lay with the humble miners in the North of England, who bred them for racing (as a form of entertainment and an excuse for betting), as well as for hunting (to feed the family). But it wasn’t only the whippets’ ability to provide meat for the pot that made them so loved by their people. It was also their gentle nature, devotion and need for closeness, which made them trustworthy around children.

Ask any whippet owner, and they will tell you that whippets do not like to lie by themselves. Put however many whippets you want in one room, and you’ll find all of them piled up, snoozing in your comfiest chair within the hour. And where there’s a single whippet in the house (like George), he’ll look to cuddle up close to anything soft, warm and, preferably, alive.

So what’s that got to do with kids? Well, everything, really.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but England is a wet and windy country. It rains a lot, and the damp and wind combined make the air feel chilly. The cold gets worse as you go up North, due to the lower temperatures and stronger winds. Imagine what it must have been like for the poor miners of the 19th century, who very often did not have the means to heat their houses in the winter. And now imagine what it must have been like for their little children. They needed water bottles to keep warm. That’s where whippets stepped in.

The miners knew they could trust their dogs with their children, so they allowed them to jump under the covers and curl up against their tummies. Of course, the whippets were more than happy to oblige, and the kids didn’t complain either. They just tucked their little noses into their pups’ soft fur and drifted away, snuggly warm.

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You may be tempted to believe that this is just an old wives’ tale, but it’s not. Whippets did, very often, serve as hot water bottles back in the old days, and I think it was a great idea. There’s something really nice about having a whippet in your bed. I don’t know if it’s because of their soft fur and warm body, or because they are such sweet creatures, but I know that I – like all other whippet owners I know – love it.

Although he’s got his own comfortable bed in our room, George likes to ‘visit’ us at night. Maybe he gets cold, or maybe he feels lonely… Whatever the reason, he sneaks under our duvet – always head first and always in the middle – and curls up with his back against my stomach. Or his dad’s stomach, he likes to change sides. He stays there for about half an hour, and then he’s off to Brianna’s room. He digs his way under her blanket and settles until the morning, when he comes to wake us up. Sometimes, if we get up first, we find him squeezed between his sister and the back of the bed, with her arms wrapped around him. Her very own hot water bottle. They look sweet and happy, and it melts my heart. It also makes me realise how lucky we are to share our lives with and be loved by a whippet.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Whippet Fact #2: A Rather Furry Hot Water Bottle

  1. I think Frankie must have some Whippet in him! He’s a very good hot water bottle:) Even in Summer he likes to get under the covers, even if I’m down to just a sheet. Whippets certainly earned their keep in the old days! Very multi-purpose little dogs. And George is keeping up the hot water bottle tradition:)

  2. George is certainly cuter than any hot water bottle I’ve ever seen.

  3. What a great story and of course, adorable pictures, to add to the atmosphere. I love the way George’s ears are tucked back in the second photo. It makes me feel all warm and happy just reading about this. I feel like I need a whippet hug.

  4. Your family is so wonderful! I love the photos of your “two kids” hugging and snuggling up. And I never thought about dogs acting as hot water bottles. That makes a lot of sense, though, especially in climates like yours (sounds a lot like Seattle, where I used to live).

    I just love how you wove the history of whippets into a very present day tale of your own pup. Those images will keep me smiling for a long time. 🙂

  5. I really love this article, especially the part with the miners and the dogs cuddling up to keep warm. The special relationship between humans and dogs always warms my heart.

  6. I loved this post, and read it with a big smile on my face. I can so relate to your experiences with George. We don’t have children, but the hounds are my babies, and it sounds like George and Zoe have another common trait: blanket burrowers!! Zoe burrows head first in the middle of our bed every night. She moves around a lot, but always seems to be doing her best snuggles right when it’s time for me to get up for work. 😦 I always hate leaving her. Xander is snuggly too, but more so in the winter months. As I type this, Zoe is napping right next to me on the sofa, and Xander is right next to her, snoozing away! I’ll take a whippet over a hot water bottle any day! 🙂 Great post!!

    • First of all, cuddles and kisses to your babies from me and George! You know George would love nothing better than to have Zoe or Xander (ideally both of them) as his under-blanket companions 🙂
      I thought of you when I wrote the post, and I was looking forward to your input on the subject. In actual fact, I have a feeling I’ll be thinking of you and your pups whenever I write a post in the ‘facts’ series 😉

  7. Those pictures are soooo sweet. Kroten would probably love to have a whippet too to keep her warm 😉
    This information is really interesting. I thought people use bigger dogs to keep them warm…you know,like saint Bernard.

    Unfortunately we are cold blooded animals, whenever mommy hugs us,she will feel our cold body but she enjoys it as Indonesia is pretty hot.

    • Oh, I don’t think there would be room in our bed for the humans if we had a Saint Bernard…:)
      Looks like we’ve both got the right pets: you’ve got the girls to keep you cool, and we’ve got George to keep us warm! 😉

  8. This made me smile – my Chevvy curls up with me every night – she is so warm that when she snuggles against the back of my knees – well who needs an electric blanket.

  9. The last photo is my fav. I often use Sia as a pillow since she likes to lay on the only one we have on the sofa.

    • 😀 So Sia’s a pillow-stealer, too? Why aren’t I surprised? 😉 A Sia pillow sounds quite warm and confortable, though, and I bet she likes it as much as you do.

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