Monthly Archives: July 2009

Whippet Stick-Up: Passive Aggressive Dogs

Some dogs are aggressive; ours are passive-aggressive. Without a nip or a yip, they manage to get everything handed to them: designer clothes, comfy beds, hot meals and homemade treats. And long walks…and stuffed squirrels…with squeakers.

Machu Picchu, our littlest whippet, has certainly learned to kill by cuteness. Like many a Real Housewife, this Real House Whippet gets anything she wants by just showing up and looking good.

Bob, Picchu, Biski & Sesame on a field trip to Piermont, N.Y.

Bob & our whippets on a field trip to Piermont. Sesame: on cement. Biski: on cement. Picchu: on daddy's lap.

C-Biscuit, however, has mastered “the look.” It’s innocent yet demanding, passive aggression at its best. Or worst, depending on whether or not you like this sort of “whipulation.” We certainly prefer it to the uncreative and unsophisticated yap! yap! yap! yap! method of pocket dogs.

Bob frequently translates for C-Biscuit: "I'm tired, thin and hungry. And I have no money."

Bob frequently translates for C-Biscuit: "I'm tired, thin and hungry. And I have no money." (Sesame, nice try, but you are an amateur.)

 

With a strategic shiver, C-Biscuit has gotten my own shirt off my back, and onto hers

With a strategic shiver, C-Biscuit has gotten the shirt off my back, and onto hers

Does the phrase “do nothing, accomplish everything” come from Zen Buddhism, or the Real House Whippets’ Passive-Aggressive Handbook? 

C-Biscuit demonstrates that phrases like "my side" "your side" "wrong way" and "off limits" have no place in a Real House Whippet's vocabulary

Without moving a muscle, C-Biscuit teaches us that phrases like "that's my side" "wrong way" and "off" have no meaning to a Real House Whippet.

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“Is your dog a rescue?” Breeder vs. Shelter

 

Sesame, Picchu and C-Biscuit: Whippets by C.Square

Sesame, Picchu and C-Biscuit: Whippets by C.Square

The most common question we get about our whippets is, “Are they rescues?” 

We assume this is because people think whippets are greyhounds, and greyhounds usually are ex-racing dogs from a track – so much so that the group Greyhound Pets of America has the subtitle, “the greyhound retirement specialists.”

Greyhounds at Dewey Beach

Greyhounds at Dewey Beach

It’s delicate enough explaining that whippets are not track discards in need of a retirement home – I can only imagine how tricky this question is if you own a greyhound that is not “a rescue.” Implied is that the only acceptable way to get a pet is through a shelter or rescue operation.

We could make a case that our dogs are all “rescues,” in the sense that we did not buy them as puppies. C-Biscuit, raised as a show dog, went to one home for a few months and then was returned to the breeder. She was re-homed to us, and we like to think this was her destiny all along. Sesame is a retired show dog. He was treated very well by his breeders and now gets the royal treatment from us.

Picchu and Sesame: Enduring the hard life

Picchu and Sesame: Enduring the hard life

Machu Picchu went through several homes and was surrendered to Whippet Rescue before going back to the breeder and then to us. She would have found a home if we had not taken her in, but it would have been the home of people like ourselves, who want to share their lives with whippets. 

To insist that the only good dog is a rescued dog is to relegate our future with the canine species to random relationships in which humans are forced to settle for whatever renegade breeders produce and fail to care for.

– Judith Lewis, Los Angeles Times opinion essay

Some things to consider when thinking about rescued dogs vs. purebreds:

  • A dog from a reputable breeder doesn’t usually end up homeless. Potential owners have gone looking for a specific breed, presumably after thought and research, and they are personally screened. Responsible people should be able to get the pets they want, and love and care for them without public scorn – or inquiry, for that matter.
  • Would one ask a parent with a baby carriage, “Is your baby adopted?” Parents are not thought selfish for wanting a specific child (their own) rather than giving a home to a homeless child.
  • Our whippet pack enjoying Central Park

    Our whippet pack enjoying Central Park

    As I wrote about previously in the article, “Obamas & Bo – Why get a purebred pet,” I wouldn’t have gotten a dog from a shelter because I only wanted a whippet. Sharing your life with an animal is good for you and arguably good for society, no matter where it comes from.

I recommend reading a very thoughtful and informative opinion essay in the Los Angeles Times, “The Obama family dog saga,” by Judith Lewis, a woman who owns shelter dogs and also makes a case for purebreds.

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Homemade Peanut Butter “Ice Cream” for Dogs

After long walks in the midday heat, C-Biscuit used to love a treat of an ice cube. Cold, crunchy, quenching. What could be better? 

Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook

Thanks to a recipe adapted from one in The Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook, our whippets are now indulging in their own kind of dog ice cream: peanut butter frozen yogurt cubes. Granted, they’re not as economical, but are easy to make, healthy, and Biski, Picchu and Sesame go nuts for them.

When I ran out the other day and offered Biski a regular ice cube, she gave it a dismissive lick before turning her head, as if to huff, “Plain water? …It’s so hard to find good help these days!”

Dog Treat Recipe: Peanut Butter “Ice Cream”

1 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup Peanut Butter (can use 1/4 cup, chef’s choice)

1 tsp honey

1/4 c water (or more, chef’s choice)

  • mix all ingredients 
  • spoon into ice cube trays and freeze
  • makes about 9 frozen treats

Adapted from The Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook

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Gardening with Dogs: Harvesting Our First Tomato

When I was little, my mother planted bleeding hearts and sweet peas in our backyard. Now Bob is keeping up the tradition by gardening with our whippets. The dogs love to sniff the herbs and sample the grasses, and this week Picchu helped harvest our first tomato:

Bob and the girls inspecting our first ripe tomatos

Bob and the girls inspecting our first ripe tomatoes

 

Teach a whippet to garden instead of counter-surf

There's nothing more exciting than growing your own food, especially in New York City!

 

Bob & Picchu with first tomato of the summer

Teach whippets to garden and maybe they won't counter-surf for their food

 

Gardening with pups is a bonding experience

Daddy and Picchu showing off the first precious tomato (later sacrificed to a mozzarella and basil appetizer)

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Welcome Home, Sesame!

 

Picchu getting as close as possible to Sesame, in the crate, on his car ride home

Picchu and Sesame

On Saturday we picked up our third whippet, Sesame, from the whippet ranch! At last our pack is complete. Our first discovery: Sesame is a great car dog! He settled right into his crate in the back seat and went to sleep. No panting, no pacing, no barfing. Off to a good start!

And we're off! The whippet train departs...

And we're off! The whippet train departs...

Sesame, Biski, Picchu and Bob on top of Schnemunk Mountain

Sesame, Biski, Picchu and Bob on top of Schnemunk Mountain

We went hiking up Schnemunk mountain on our way home. Our second discovery: all that dog show training has paid off, Sesame is fantastic on the leash! No pulling, no wandering, no bolting. Even when Picchu and Biski, who were off-leash, went sprinting past Sesame, he just looked on.

Bob and Sesame blueberry-picking

Bob harvesting wild blueberries with Sesame

Near the top of the mountain, we stopped to snack on wild blueberries. Sesame waited patiently, but I could tell he was thinking, “Good grief. Are these all the provisions we have?!” He didn’t know yet that we always pack Zuke’s peanut butter Power Bones

When we got back to the big city, Biski and Picchu couldn’t believe their gentleman caller was coming home! They rolled out the whippet welcome wagon with lots of licky kisses. At night, Picchu gave up her Pita Bed to Sesame, just as Biski had given the Pita Bed to Picchu on her first night. 

Three girls & a boy

Shira with the whippet pack: Sesame, Picchu and Biski

The only problem so far is that while Picchu played the game of “I’ll only go to the bathroom on the living room rug” when she came to live with us, Sesame is playing the game of “I won’t go to the bathroom at all.” Who knew a dog could hold it – hold everything – for 24 hours, then restart the clock for another 24 hours? 

Sesame joins the Real House Whippets of NYC

Sesame (rear) joins the Real House Whippets of NYC

On the street, three beautiful dogs get even more attention than two. And at home, our neighbors are utterly confused. I walked out of the building with our handsome Sesame and our little Picchu, and a neighbor greeted them, “Hello, Ladies!” Sesame fits right in as a Real House Whippet of NYC.

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The Third Dog: Here Comes Sesame!

For over a year, I have been singing (to the tune of “Here Comes Santa Claus…”), “Here comes Sesame, Here comes Sesame…” and tomorrow he will be here! 

Sesame as a newborn whippet

Little Sesame Seed

I’m a little nervous because he’s a male (no experience there), somewhat skittish (welcome to NYC!) and will be our third dog.

A friend always told me about children, “Don’t get outnumbered!” Tomorrow Bob and I officially will be outnumbered. But I look at those dog walkers in a cloud of 15 dogs and leashes and I tell myself, “This will be fine.”

Bob’s mom left a message saying, “Three dogs. Wow. I hope you know what you’re doing!” In fact, we don’t. Who knows what they’re doing before they actually do it? 

Sesame in his trouble-making phase

Sesame in his trouble-making phase

A year ago, it freaked me out to walk a single dog in New York. I worried about C-Biscuit bolting out of her collar, about her getting bitten, about her inhaling rat poison. But it’s been fine…even though she sprained a toe, stole and ate a pound of dried chicken breast, and disemboweled her wool stingray. And, okay, recently she did throw up on my pillow.

This spring we got Picchu, an unexpected bonus dog. The first time I walked her with Biski, my legs got tangled in the leashes; Biski went this way and Picchu went that way. Picchu wanted to sniff every square inch of sidewalk; Biski got impatient. A few weeks later a woman commented, “Wow, your dogs must be twins. They look at the same thing at the same time, move together, and even go to the bathroom at the same time!” It’s true, they are often like synchronized swimmers – without the nose clips.

Sesame, all grown up and ready to come home!

Sesame, all grown up and ready to come home!

And now Sesame. Among the comments from friends and family:

“Are you moving?”

“I don’t think you can fit three dogs in here.”

(two family members, same reaction:) “Three dogs? hahahahaha!”

(e-mail:) “OH MY GOD IT’S WHIPPET CENTRAL – STOP BUYING WHIPPETS!” 

“Are you getting dogs instead of having kids?”

And from a whippet-owning friend (e-mail:) “It’s so clear that you want him. I’m sure that the dogs will get along, even if it requires a little adjustment. You’re both good parents so it’ll work.”

There is always a voice of reason in the madness of the crowd. And for us, there will always be whippets, too. Even three.

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Dog Genealogy: The Whippet Family Tree

The latest rage is DNA testing for dogs. I say settle for the Darwinian approach: old-fashioned observation. I look at my two whippets, I look at the rest of the animal kingdom, and I see the pieces of the puzzle come right together.

C-Biscuit: Where do I come from?

C-Biscuit: Where do I come from?

 

C-Biscuit clearly has Seabiscuit in her bloodline

C-Biscuit clearly has Seabiscuit in her bloodline

 

Machu Picchu is named after... the mountain? or is there more to it?

Machu Picchu is named after... the mountain? or is there more to it?

 

In the beginning there was the cheetah, fastest animal on earth. Now we have whippets, fastest animal in town.

In the beginning there was the cheetah, fastest animal on earth. Now we have whippets, fastest animal in town.

 

In the beginning, giraffes had long necks to reach the tops of trees. Now, whippets have long necks to reach the tops of counters.

In the beginning, giraffes had long necks to reach the tops of trees. Now, whippets have long necks to reach the tops of counters.

 

In whippets, the cheetah's speed got crossed with the two-toed sloth's sleeping gene. Plus, look at how long those nails have grown!

In whippets, the cheetah's speed got crossed with the two-toed sloth's sleeping gene. Plus, look at how long those nails have grown!

 

Bambi: Closest known relative of the whippet

Bambi: Closest known relative of the whippet

 

Picchu, whippet bambino

Picchu, whippet bambino

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