Category Archives: Real House Whippets of NYC

Catskill 3500: Picchu’s Peaks, 2009

Bob and I and the NYC Whippets packette have been tackling the 35 highest peaks in the Catskills. Our 2009 summits:

#9: Cornell Mountain, 3860 feet

Cornell Mtn: Biski, Bob, Picchu, June 12, 2009

Cornell Mtn: Biski, Bob, Picchu, October 11, 2009

#1: Slide Mountain, 4180 feet

Slide Mtn: Biski, Bob, Picchu, June 13, 2009

Slide Mtn, June 13

#11: Peekamoose Mountain, 3,843 feet

Peekamoose Mtn: Biski, Sesame, Picchu, Bob, August 7, 2009

#10: Table Mountain, 3,847 feet

Table Mtn: Picchu, Biski, Bob, August 7, 2009

#14: Wittenberg Mountain, 3,780 feet

Wittenberg Mtn: Bob & Picchu, October 11, 2009 (Picchu's Birthday!)

#6: Westkill Mountain, 3,880 feet

Westkill Mtn: Picchu & Bob, October 30, 2009

Picchu and Bob on Westkill: Even in the fog, we located the true summit!

Bob & Picchu on Westkill - a rare summit marker

#2: Hunter Mountain, 4,040 feet

Hunter Mtn: Bob and Biski, November 1, 2009

Hunter Mtn: Bob, Biski, Sesame, Picchu (front)

Shira and Sesame on Hunter

#27: Balsam Mountain, 3,600 feet

Balsam Mtn: Sesame, Biski, Bob, Picchu, November 20, 2009

Sesame on Balsam: "Peak, valley, it really makes no difference to me."

#29: Eagle Mountain, 3,600 feet

Eagle Mtn: Biski, Picchu, Bob, Sesame, November 21, 2009

Picchu and Bob on top of Eagle Mtn

Picchu: Pocket pup, hunting dog, hiking accessory or hand warmer?

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The Whippenberg

 

For Picchu’s second birthday Sunday we went on a mountain-climbing extravaganza in the Catskills. 

Bob and the Birthday Girl, Picchu

Bob and the Birthday Girl, Picchu, on our latest Catskills adventure

Bob, Biski and Sesame on the trail up Wittenberg

Bob, Biski and Sesame on the trail up Wittenberg, cliffy in parts

Destination: Mt. Wittenberg, the most massive mountain in the Catskills, so it is referred to as The Wittenberg.

We were wondering if a whippet pack has ever scaled it before, and in honor of our expedition, decided to re-name the mountain The Whippenberg.

Two nights, three day-long hikes, all meals and accommodations, um, carried by everyone but Picchu.

 

C-Biscuit and Sesame, sherpa whippets

C-Biscuit and Sesame, sherpa dogs

 

Sesame and Biski look for a way around the rock-scaling, but there isn't one

Sesame and Biski look for a way around the rock-scaling, but there isn't one

 

Why the pack wears harnesses/backpacks: "Ok, hoist them up!"

Why the dogs wear harnesses/backpacks: "Ok, hoist them up!"

 

The Whippenberg: Shira and the whippet pack atop Wittenberg

The Whippenberg: Shira and the whippet pack atop the mountain formerly known as The Wittenberg

 

Biski billygoating on top of the mountain

Biski billygoating on top of the mountain: "Will a pack member with opposable thumbs please step forward to release my lunch!"

 

Shira, Sesame, Biski, Picchu: Brrrrr

Shira, Sesame, Biski, Picchu: Brrrrr

 

Bob herds the whippets on a side excursion to Cornell Mtn

Bob herds the whippets on a side excursion to Cornell Mtn, overlooking Slide Mtn

 

The dogs huddling in the tent, shortly before moving into our double-wide sleeping bag

The dogs huddling in the tent, shortly before moving into our double-wide sleeping bag

 

There's one in every pack who refuses to observe check-out time

There's one in every pack who refuses to observe check-out time

 

After two nights in arctic temperatures, Bob & the packette are ready to head home

After two nights in arctic temperatures, Bob & the packette are ready to head home. Next stop: Rockettes audition!

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City Dogs, Country Dog

 

The House Whippets' Border Collie friend at home in the country

The House Whippets' Border Collie friend, Sasha, at home in the country

The House Whippets are urban dogs, but like any New Yorker, they do love a weekend in the country!

 

Especially when it involves a house in the woods, excursions to orchards, and a friend.

 

Shira, Roya and the whippet-border collie mixed pack

The House Whippets practice their "Charlie's Angels" routine, pretending to protect Shira, Sasha and Roya from the nearby fruit trees

 

Divide & Conquer: Bob, Sesame and Biski take one side; Roya, Sasha the border collie and Picchu the other side

C-Biscuit says, "I couldn't help but notice our new pack member is wearing a coat, and it looks like formal wear at that...are we underdressed?"

 

Sasha and Sesame didn't, uh, see eye to eye - they spent the weekend nipping or ignoring each other

Sasha and Sesame didn't, uh, see eye to eye - they spent the weekend nipping at or ignoring each other

 

Sasha says, "Leashes off!"

Sasha says, "Leashes off!"

 

House Whippets say, "Now this is a dog run!"

C-Biscuit (right): "Now THIS is a dog run!" Sesame (left): "I will keep look-out for danger, that is surely all around us." Picchu (back): "Do you still love me, in a green field?"

 

The border collie plays Herd the Whippets!

The border collie plays Herd the Whippets!

 

The whippets say, "Full speed in opposite directions - the collie can't catch us!"

C-Biscuit and Picchu: "Full speed in opposite directions - the collie can't catch us!"

 

Cerberus? Or House Whippets?

Cerberus? Or House Whippets? Country water does strange things...

 

What a hostess: Sasha braves the rain so the house whippets can have, well, the house

What a hostess: Sasha braves the rain so the house whippets can have, well, the house (Sesame isn't so polite. "And stay out!" he says.)

For all of that wide open space and yummy country air, the country getaway had its downsides: thorns that went nearly all the way through Biski’s ears, rocks that ripped Sesame’s thigh, and the ultimate house whippet horror: they were not allowed on the furniture.

Country road, take me home: Same designer as the Brooklyn Bridge, but a much slower pace

Country road, take me home: Same designer as the Brooklyn Bridge, but a much slower pace. (Specifically, 15 mph.)

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More Cow Pajamas!

 

Sesame dons the communal dog pajamas

Snuggly Whippet: Sesame dons cow-print dog pajamas by Decotogs

If you want to see a grown, outdoorsy man melt, put a dog in cow-print pajamas.

I am the midwesterner and Bob is third-generation Manhattan, but somehow he is the one in love with our dogs’ cow pajamas.

He has little to say on the topic of dog clothes, except, “More cow pajamas!”

He is the Christopher Walken to our dogs’ Will Ferrell (watch the classic SNL skit “More Cowbell!” here).

Bob walking our whippet in cow pajamas, trying to blend into Northern Michigan

Passing for normal in Michigan: Bob walks C-Biscuit in her cow pajamas

When we got a second whippet, we decided we had to go minimalist on the dog clothing. I was deciding on the basics for a dog’s wardrobe: raincoat, fleece, winter coat.

Bob added, “And cow pajamas!”

C-Biscuit wears her pajamas very rarely, such as when we visited my dad in northern Michigan and the thermostat was set just high enough so you couldn’t see your breath. 

Yet, Bob insists they are a dog wardrobe essential. He has practically been pestering me to order cow pajamas for Sesame and Picchu. His idea for halloween? All three whippets in cow pajamas!

I wouldn’t deny him, except – horror – Decotogs, the Missouri company that makes the dog pajamas, doesn’t have the cow print anymore! All we can do is wait, and hope that there will be… more cow pajamas!

Bob admiring Sesame in the cow pajamas

Sesame: "I am a show dog, not a barnyard animal."

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Pack Mentality, and Problems

When we wanted to get a third dog, the breeder did warn us that a third “changes the dynamic – they become more of a pack.” We looked at little Picchu blinking her big, brown, homeless eyes at us and thought, “Pack problems? Naaahhh.”

Bob, Shira and the NYC Whippet Packette: Well-behaved, except when not

Bob, Shira and the NYC Whippet Packette: Well-behaved, except when not

Sure enough, with just C-Biscuit and Picchu, all was well. Biski has always been shy on the street, Picchu is much more social. We enjoyed going up to other dogs for a change, because Picchu made tons of friends. Even when a new dog lunges at Picchu and barks in her face – something that sends Biski flying backwards into our legs – she ignores it, sniffs, and miraculously the other dog turns friendly. Until we added Sesame.

Sesame, C-Biscuit and Picchu

Sesame, C-Biscuit and Picchu: the House Whippets hit the streets of Manhattan

Our boy Sesame isn’t the problem, exactly, because he’s the shyest of them all, and completely well-mannered. The problem is a pack mentality. Last week I came home and told Bob I’m done walking all three together. They’re too much of a handful, causing too many scenes.

Our social little Picchu is, unwittingly, the instigator. She sees another dog and thinks, “Playmate!” She perks up or jumps, or sometimes barks out of excitement, which Sesame reads as, “The pack is under attack!” Seemingly out of nowhere he lunges and WOOF-WOOFs. He’s not as delicate a little whippet as the girls, and his bark means business. That sets off Picchu, who goes from “I want to meet you!” to “I want to eat you!”

Shira and the NYC House Whippets on a field trip to Woodstock

Shira and the NYC House Whippets on a field trip to Woodstock

Even that would be manageable if it weren’t for wallflower Biski springing to life. Whereas alone she would avoid conflict at all costs, with Picchu and Sesame out front, she’s happy to provide back-up: rrrRRROOUROOUROOU!

Three well-behaved whippets turn into a barking, snarling, three-whip-power lunging machine, while other dog owners scurry away and I become that woman who doesn’t have any control over her rude dogs. I have been frustrated at those people for years – Control your dog! – so I know exactly how bad this is.

Bob and the Whippet Packette: Three is a handful, but not too many

Bob and the Whippet Packette: Three is a handful, but not too many

Bob and I started to anticipate trouble, took the dogs to the curb, and stood body blocking them from a passing dog. This worked – they wouldn’t bark or lunge – but you wouldn’t believe how bad some dog owners are at reading body language that unquestionably says, “Stay away. Our dogs do not want to say hi.” Several times, they let pooches on illegally long leashes prance right up to our Packette, setting them off. Then, of course, we’re the bad guys.

FF_cover09web200_306_However, no cause for alarm. I ordered the booklet Feisty Fido: Help for the Leash-Reactive Dog from trainer Patricia McConnell. We love her training resources, and have several of her books and videos. She says that leash-lunging is a very common problem and that it is not difficult to solve.

Our first training exercise is to work with each dog individually on the “watch” command, so the dogs look at us rather than an approaching dog. That means no more group walks for a while. But it’ll be worth it once our pack is back under control. Hopefully in time to model their matching fall outerwear.

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Snuggle Season

The weather got chilly yesterday – snuggle season has arrived! And heat-seeking whippets really know how to work it. 

C-Biscuit wraps herself in the season's finest.

C-Biscuit wraps herself in the season's finest.

 

"The world is my fleece-lined oyster."

C-Biscuit trying on her Halloween costume: dog pearl in oyster.

 When I first got a dog, I thought, “Dogs don’t belong on the bed.” Hahaha! I’d never imagined dog pajamas, either. How quickly our values crumble…

Bob & Biski: "Wake us when breakfast is ready."

Bob & Biski: "Wake us when breakfast is ready."

 

Gracie, the season's first guest snuggler, and Picchu

Gracie, the season's first guest snuggler, and Picchu

 

Picchu: "My bum is cold." Biski: "Mine too. They just don't make these pita beds like they used to."

Picchu: "My bum is cold." Biski: "Mine too. They just don't make these pita beds like they used to."

 

Sesame: "Huddle together, girls, we'll get through the cold season together."

Sesame: "Huddle together, girls, we'll get through the cold season together."

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Dog Dreams

 

Dreaming dogs: Squirrels on their minds?

Dreaming dogs: Squirrels on their minds?

People are always saying about a dreaming dog, “Chasing squirrels!” 

But they’re wrong.

I know this because research has shown that dog sleep (and brain structure) is similar to ours. If dogs only dreamt about chasing squirrels, it would mean I was spending every REM session tunneling through warm cinnamon rolls and German chocolate cupcakes like the Very Hungry Caterpillar

Picchu processing the afternoon's hike

Picchu processing the afternoon's hike

Unfortunately, I don’t only dream of bakeries – just sometimes, and usually I’m being good and not eating anything (yes, I wake up screaming, You Idiot!). 

Dreams are mental workouts. Sure, dogs’ lives aren’t as complicated as ours, but there’s no reason to think they’re so simplistic, either. Surely even house whippets have something on their minds besides high-speed chases.

Picchu and Biski sniffing out each other's dreams

Picchu and Biski sniffing out each other's dreams

C-Biscuit has a peculiar way of dreaming in which she seems to be playing two roles. She alternates between a high-pitched whimper and then a low growl. Maybe she’s showing the effects of having been an only dog for a year before we got Picchu and Sesame.

Researchers at MIT determined that rats taught to run through a maze during the day then dreamed about it at night. So there might be some squirrel chasing in dog dreams, just as I do get ahold of a nocturnal Krispy Kreme now and then. 

Sesame: "Do not underestimate a dog's dreaming. We are philosophic, calculating creatures."

Sesame: "Do not underestimate a dog's dreaming. We are philosophic, calculating creatures."

But aren’t dreams usually symbolic? Nothing like a bakery visit or squirrel chase. The other night, I dreamed I was on my way to my sister’s wedding but didn’t have any shoes on. …could the whippets have anxiety dreams about being the only dogs in Central Park not wearing winter boots?

This work raises questions about long-held assumptions about animals’ thought processes. Only a handful of species — among them chimps and dolphins — were thought to have any ability at all to recall and evaluate detailed sequences of events after they occurred. Matthew Wilson of MIT’s Institute for Learning and Memory points out that ‘this work demonstrates that animals are capable of re-evaluating their experiences when they are not in the midst of them.’    – MIT research on rat dreams published in Neuron Dec. 19, 2001

The real stuff dog dreams are made of: The whippets might map their field in their brains next time they nap, say MIT scientists

The real stuff dog dreams are made of: The whippets might map this field in their brains next time they nap, say MIT scientists

An ABC News reporter quipped about the rat dream research, “Some rats can’t ever escape the rat race, even when sound asleep.”

We seem determined to make light of animal dreams even though, let’s face it, don’t dogs seem more highly evolved than we are? Unlike everyone else in the animal kingdom (except house cats), they have figured out how to get everything they need without working for it. While we, complex schemers and dreamers that we are, can only dream on.

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