My whippet Thistle died a couple of years ago. He was a rescue whippet, who had an awful start in life, but we loved each other on sight, and he was seldom apart from me for the rest of his long life. He was my little grey shadow – when I drove somewhere he was curled up on the passenger seat; when I gardened he was sniffing flowers next to me; when I camped he was down the bottom of my sleeping bag, keeping my toes warm.
His loyalty to me was a constant joy, but the flip side was that he didn’t think much about anybody else. In particular he didn’t think much about my husband, who came back from a business trip to find Thistle comfortably ensconced in an armchair, looking down his long nose at him.
If Thistle had been a human being, he would have been a Regency Buck, all close fitting silks and impeccable Mechelin lace. And he would have challenged my husband to a duel, with foils. As he was just a recently rescued whippet he did the most creative thing he could think of in the circumstances, and deposited a finely-sculpted meringue-shaped mess in my husband’s place at the breakfast table the next morning. As you can imagine, it didn’t improve the relationship and they finally reached a sort of stand-off which continued for the next 14 years.
When Thistle died in my arms at a fine old age I mourned him deeply. He left behind him our two jolly Labradors, who are classic slap-you-on-the-back-and-buy-you-a-drink types. We agreed that two dogs was probably enough, and that was the end of my whippet keeping. Or so I thought.
Then last winter I was ambling past the village post office and I saw a car parked outside with an elegant whippet smiling at me out of the window. I tracked down her owner who was buying stamps in the post office. And yes, the whippet was adorable. And they would be breeding from her when she was old enough. I pressed my phone number on her owner and awaited events.
Last week I received a text saying the whippet is about to pay a call on a gentleman whippet, with great hopes from all sides. Of course she may not take to the whole courtship and maternity thing. But if she does, I just know I won’t be able to resist putting my name down for a puppy. I’ll keep you posted!