Tag Archives: life

The Whippet Clock, or Can Your Dog Tell the Time? (Part 2)

Last week I published Part 1 to our highly structured daily routine according to our little whippet clock. Today, as promised, I return to Part 2, which tells about George’s afternoons and evenings. So, let’s continue.

15.45 Brianna gets back from school and George awakes from his slumber to greet her. Jumps up her, gives her a kiss and picks up his squeaky Christmas cracker (a present from Brianna), anticipating a game with his sister. This is the only time he shows an interest in this toy, so somehow he must know it’s a present from her. The kids have a whole hour to mess about and chase each other around the house or garden, whilst the adults cook the evening meal.

17.00 George is making his presence felt in the kitchen and would not leave. Hunger has kicked in again and the aromas coming from the oven don’t help. George is either lying in front of the oven, making sure he doesn’t miss anything, or sniffing the worktop trying to work out what we’re cooking.

17.15 Dinner time. George gets his bowl of food and the humans sit at the table ready to enjoy theirs. George strolls to the kitchen to see what on his menu for the evening, sniffs it and walks away without even a bite. He’s convinced that our food is better than his, so he comes to check it out and beg for handouts from out table. Which he sometimes gets.

17.45 We’ve finished our meal and are washing up. George realises that he’s not going to get any ‘human’ food, so he finishes off his own rather quickly, as he knows there’s a lot of fun to come in the evening, before Brianna goes to bed. It’s family play time until 7 p.m. and he loves being part of it.

19.00 Brianna gets ready for her 1 hour of reading in bed and dad sits down trying to watch the news. George, however, has other ideas and starts to hassle him, asking for his evening game. Dad tries to resist but George always wins, so 15 minutes later I find them both collapsed on the floor, out of breath after a rough game of tug and chase. George is now ‘sorted’ for the evening – he knows that’s all the action for the day – and settles down.

20.00 George goes to sleep and will not wake up until we decide to go to bed. The time we choose to end the day varies, but let’s say it’s 11 p.m.

23.00 George goes out for his last toilet call. Then he rushes in, checks out if there are any biscuits left in his bowl, has a drink of water and claims his sleeping place in our bed. Night-night, George, see you in the morning!

That’s pretty much what it’s like living with our whippet. Of course, there are changes to this routine when we go away or when we have visitors, but he always reverts back to this schedule when we’re back to normal. I wonder if all dogs are like this.

The questions I asked before remain: Are your dogs strong on routine? Do they like to do the same things every day? Do they give a certain structure to your day? Can your dogs tell the time?



Filed under General

The Whippet Clock, or Can Your Dog Tell the Time? (Part 1)

I discovered some time ago that George can tell the time. He is a dog of routines who likes to do the same thing, at the same time, every single day. Any attempt to entertain him by adding a bit of variation to his life is likely to cause him distress, rather than make him eternally grateful. So we’re stuck into a very monotonous daily routine. Anything to keep the dog happy, right?

The best thing about what we call George’s ‘mild autism’ is that we will  never be late for school, will never miss a meal and can always tell what George is thinking. Well, almost always.  Here’s what my day looks like based on my whippet’s body clock:

7.00  A 16-kg cannonball jumps on my tummy and licks my face, waking me up and making the alarm clock that I carefully set up the night before redundant. It’s time to wake up.

7.30 George is waiting by the kitchen door in a perfect “sit” position that could win me a “Dog Trainer of the Year” award. It’s time for breakfast and chicken wings.

8.15 George starts running around the house causing havoc, stealing socks, tackling cushions and shredding tissues. We’ve got 15 minutes to get ready to go out, and we’d better hurry because George really needs to go to the toilet (the back garden just won’t do; at this time of the day he prefers to use the hawthorn bush in the corner of our field).

8.30 George is standing by the back door looking moody and restless. He’s really lost his patience, it’s time to go. We split up: one adult takes George for his walk, the other takes his human sister to school.

9.15 George returns from his morning walkies and plonks himself in his dad’s armchair for a snooze. Alternatively, when the weather is nice and sunny, he goes and lies on his blanket in the garden, soaking in some sunshine vitamin. Either way, he doesn’t like to be disturbed, so the adults would better crack on with their work for the next few hours.

11.30 George has now recharged his batteries and is ready to take on the world again. He’s feeling bouncy and has no one to play with, so he turns to the humans for assistance on this matter. He doesn’t normally get any attention straight away, so he makes himself more visible and a real nuisance by placing his head on my lap and looking up with irresistible puppy eyes. Occasionally, he lets out a little whimper, too, but this tactic never works, so he has to play by himself for a bit. 

12.00 George is trying his best to kill his rubber chicken, which means he is really starving. It’s time to stop and have lunch, preferably in the garden if the weather permits it. But lunch is not that easy with a fussy whippet, he has to have a little tug-war game with his dad whilst I prepare his food.

13.00 George is queueing up at the back door again. He’s let his food go down and is now ready to go out again. He especially loves this second walk, since it’s when he normally meets up with some of his friends for a run around. However, we’d better not forget to take his beloved frisbee with us, just in case we’ve got the whole field for ourselves. A good run makes him happy and settles him for the afternoon, so we make sure he gets it every day.

14.00 Back home and back to snoozing in dad’s armchair or in the garden for the next couple of hours. The adults get the chance to catch up with more of their daily tasks.

As this is turning into a rather lengthy post, I will end it here, before I bore everyone. I will return with an hour-by-hour recount of George’s afternoon routine next week, in Part 2. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from all of you who have pets (or had pets in the past). Do your fur babies display similar behaviours? Are they stuck in the same daily routine?



Filed under General

How Much is that Doggy on the Armchair?

We had another playful weekend the other week, and boy it was fun. We were more outdoor oriented this time, as the weather gods have finally decided it was spring and rewarded us with glorious, sunny weather and quite a few degrees on the Celsius scale. Out and into the wild we went, eager to check out our forest, our fields and pretty much everything else in our corner of the world. I’m happy to report that everything is still in place and turning bright green but, as I left my camera at home – doh! – I have no evidence to back this up. So I’ll have to return to it some other time.

This post is about another one of our family games, which we indulged in after we returned from the walk. George was pretty much exhausted and went to sleep in his dad’s chair, as always, so it was up to Brianna to decide what she wanted to do. She said she was going to her room to ‘think about it’, and re-emerged half an hour later with one of those I’m very pleased with myself looks on her face.

In a solemn voice she announced that “today we’re not playing anything …because I’m too busy with my new business. I’ve opened a new shop in my bedroom!”.

I’ve got to tell you that my daughter is quite entrepreneurial that way. She’s always looking for a way to earn her living, and her bedroom often turns into the premises of her new business ventures. It has served as a cafe, zoo, school and dog kennels in the past, so it was only a matter of time until the idea of a shop sprung into her mind. This was the day.

In the half an hour she took to prepare for the grand opening, she’d covered every item she owns with ‘For Sale’ signs and price tags, and her door was filled with all sorts of announcements, from the opening hours to irresistible offers for the potential customers.

So we loaded our pockets with pennies and queued up outside the shop door, excited at the prospect of what we might find inside. I have to admit that we were quite impressed at the level of organisation and the professional, helpful and friendly service we found. Here’s a little snippet of what the shop had on offer:


Now, you wouldn’t expect Brianna to leave out her precious companion – the little whippet called George – would you? She involved him in her shopkeeping game, by delegating him a very important role: that of the most expensive item on sale! Needless to say that George was not at all impressed with his new status. In actual fact, he was completely disgusted at such humiliation, but was too tired to do anything about it, so he just sat there looking sad.


What do you think? Not a happy bunny, right? But do not worry, she did buy him back at the end of the game and they’re best mates again!


Filed under General, Photo diary

The Love of a Dog

As the famous Beatles song says,

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

Well, that must include dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters and all the other furry creatures that we lovingly adopt and look after in return for their affection. Just to prove that point, here’s my little George sharing a moment of tenderness with his latest conquest: Brianna’s teddy, Goldie.


There’s not much that I can add to this emotional evidence of true love, apart from: Love is in the air, everywhere you look aroundCan you feel it



Filed under Photo diary

Do Animals Go to Heaven?

Brianna brought home a thick collection of children’s poetry last month. Apparently they’d run out of books in the classroom, so the teacher brought in one of her own from home.

I couldn’t resist browsing through, and I came across a nice poem about the dilemma a child is posed with when their beloved pet dies. Although not the obvious choice for a children’s book due to its rather sad and philosophical subject, it is a beautiful poem which I thought was worth sharing. Here it is:

          Burying the Dog in the Garden

                                                 by Brian Patten

          When we buried

          the dog in

          the garden on

          the grave we put

          a cross and

          the tall man

          next door was


          ‘Animals have no

          souls,’ he said.

          ‘They must have animal

          souls,’ we said. ‘No,’

          he said and

          shook his head.

          ‘Do you need a

          soul to go

          to Heaven?’ we

          asked. He nodded

          his head. ‘Yes,’

          he said.

          ‘That means my

          hamster’s not

          in Heaven,’ said

          Kevin. ‘Nor is

          my dog,’ I said.

          ‘My cat could sneak

          in anywhere,’ said

          Clare. And we thought

          what a strange place Heaven

          must be with

          nothing to stroke

          for eternity.

          We were all


          We decided we

          did not want to

          go to Heaven.

          For that the

          tall man next

          door is to blame.

This poem brought tears to my eyes and stirred the inevitable discussion of what’s going to happen when George dies. A subject that I’m not very comfortable with and prefer not to think about just yet. At the end of our little talk, Brianna decided that she believes animals have souls and although she’ll be sad when the day comes for George to go, she understands that this is the cycle of life and knows he’ll be up there watching over her. What a wise child. I just blocked out the thought and took George for a walk.


Filed under Whilst walking the dog

Meet Wendy, the Bully Whippet

This is a post I’ve been aiming to write for a while. It has sat as a draft on my computer since I started the blog, and today I felt it was the right time for it to come out. It’s the emotional story of a sweet whippet girl, Wendy, trapped in an oversized, overmuscular body.

Although whippets are generally a very healthy breed, there is one terrible genetic disease that can affect them – and only them – the “Bully Whippet Syndrome”. Although it does not affect their general state of health, this syndrome leaves the very few whippets who are born with it looking unusually big and muscular. Labels such as ‘monsters’, ‘freaks of nature’, ‘mutants’ and even ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger of the canine world” have been eagerly attached to these poor creatures by inconsiderate people who would undoubtedly call nasty names to humans suffering from any kind of physical disability or disfigurement.

But what is the “Bully Whippet Syndrome”? It is a genetic disease manifested by a mutation in the myostatin gene, which causes double-muscling. The myostatin gene regulates muscle mass and affects muscle composition, which can increase racing speed. Whilst possessing one copy of this mutation seems to be an advantage for racing whippets and does not seem to be regarded as a defect, dogs that possess two copies are severely overmuscled, well beyond the limits of normality. This makes them look like the cattle suffering from the same mutation, hence the name of the syndrome. Since I am not a geneticist, I will not plunge into the scientific details of this syndrome, which I don’t fully understand. However, if you are interested in learning more about this double-muscling syndrome – which can also affect humans – you will find an interesting article here.

With this, we’ve come to the end and most exciting part of my post. It’s time to meet Wendy and the woman who saw beyond physical appearance and loves her for who she is inside.  


Filed under Health

The Importance of Choosing the Right Dog

I’ve always believed that the decision to bring a dog into your home could be one of the most important decisions you will ever make and, for this reason, should not be taken lightly. This weekend gone has reinforced my conviction that making sure you choose the right dog for your family circumstances and lifestyle is very important.

Let me explain.

As you already know from Last Wednesday’s post, it was Brianna’s birthday on Friday, which meant a whole weekend of celebration, parties and visitors. There has been a sea of people coming and going to and from our house over the past few days, and one of the things I was the most pleased with was the way George behaved under these circumstances. He’s always happy to welcome family and friends that he knows well, but he’s never too keen on strangers invading his territory. We did, however, have a few ‘new’ guests around our house and George simply had to deal with it.

Since we knew how wary he is of humans and dogs he doesn’t know, we kept a close eye on him during the initial minutes of being introduced to our guests. The last thing we wanted was our dog attacking someone, especially a child. Although we trust him completely with Brianna and her little cousins, you can never tell how a dog will react in new situations, so we were prepared to restrain him if he started to display any aggression. His crate was also ready, waiting for him in the office as a last resort.


But what a good boy George proved to be! Yes, he got a bit nervous, growled a little (in a talking kind of way – no teeth showing) and ran around with his tail between his legs for about 5 minutes. Then he settled down and went to assess the newcomers by sniffing them, accepted a little pat on the head and settled down in his bed. Eventually, he ended up sharing cuddles and kisses with everyone and chasing the kids around. He even decided to join in a little photo session! After all of our initial worries, the challenge of the day was to keep George off the party food, not our guests’ ankles. I was really proud of my furry boy and happy that we did not have to lock him away and he could enjoy being part of the family. Like he should.

Which brings me back to my initial point. It is very important to do your research properly and choose the right dog. When we decided to take this step, Brianna was 5 and we knew that our dog had to have a nice, even temperament and be good with children. This was our number one criteria, especially since I’d heard a few horrific stories of little children being mauled by their family dog. We therefore overruled a lot of breeds, including all guard dogs. Although I am aware that Rottweilers, Dobermans and Pitbulls can make wonderful pets in the right hands – the softest Rottweiler in the world lives around the corner and is one of George’s friends – I’ve always been wary of their strength and propensity to ‘lose their temper’ if little kids poke them in the eye or pull their ears. The damage these dogs can cause is so great that we thought it was just not worth the risk.

We also considered adopting a rescue dog. We visited the local dog shelter and the image of those poor dogs barking and scratching at the windows of their cages melted my heart and is still with me today. We felt that adoption was definitely the right choice for us, but then, just before we made our final decision, a member of our family got bitten in the face by a friend’s rescue dog. Nobody could have predicted that, as the dog knew her well and was used to having her around. One day, however, the dog snapped. Something she did must have triggered that behaviour. Maybe she moved too fast, we’ll never know. But it almost cost her an eye and it definitely cost the dog his family, as he had to be returned to the shelter. This experienced made us abandon our adoption plans, since we no longer felt it was a good idea to bring a dog of unknown past into our young family.

So, we narrowed it all down to a whippet puppy whom we can ‘educate’ and shape the way we want from the beginning, and who can grow up with Brianna and be her childhood companion. This is how George became one of us, and we never regretted the day we brought him home. Last weekend just confirmed that we made the right choice!


Filed under General