Chapter One

 

It was always my intention to own a whippet at some point in my life. Having grown up with a variety of dogs—the active collie, the feisty Yorkshire terrier and the perpetually smiling Cavalier spaniels—eventually I was drawn to the simple elegance and grace of the whippet.

 

Trying to convince a husband who wasn’t overly keen on dogs in general took a lot of hard campaigning, but eventually he buckled and we acquired our first whippet, Ruby.

 

Ruby was our pride and joy—our love for this dog can never be adequately defined by words alone. She introduced us to the joy of whippet-owning and the memory of her will always remain in our hearts.

 

The acquisition of this very special hound is, in itself, a testimony to the ‘heart ruling head’ adage.

 

Once my husband, Paul, had agreed to us having a dog, I then launched into a feverish search for the perfect whippet. At the time, we felt that maybe a puppy would be too challenging for us as we both worked, and so we felt that an older dog would be more suited to our lifestyle. Our search eventually unearthed a breeder fairly local to us who had an older dog looking for a new home. I made contact with the breeder, who described to us a six-month-old, pure white whippet bitch looking to be rehomed. Alarm bells should have rung when, upon trying to arrange a viewing of the dog in question, the breeder seemed less than keen for us to visit her house and, after much discussion, we agreed to meet up in a local train station car park. Alarm bells were now at a deafening pitch, but I have to confess that if said breeder had asked us to meet up in a dinghy in the middle of the Thames, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.

 

The date of our meeting arrived and we turned up at the venue in a state of nervous excitement. We were eventually greeted by the sight of a small gnome-like figure perched incongruously on top of a concrete bollard, swathed from top to toe in a huge brown overcoat. We hurried over and made our presence known whilst scanning the vicinity looking for our potential new dog. The little old lady in the overcoat beckoned us to come closer, and we then noted a slight bulge in the side of her coat. The lady apologised as she hadn’t been able to bring the dog that we had requested to see; however, she had brought along another dog. She then held open one side of her coat, and from within the depths peered a small fawn-coloured face with the biggest pair of scared brown eyes that we had ever seen. Feeling conspicuously as if we were conducting a furtive drug deal, we leaned in closer and could just about make out the form of a trembling little whippet, curled up within the confines of the overcoat. It was at this point that our love affair with whippets truly began…

 

After a protracted session of bartering, the little dog was thrust into my arms and I was hurriedly ushered back to our car with instructions to hang on to her, otherwise she would escape. After hastily pocketing our money, the little old lady shot off at a surprising rate of knots.

 

Now, I know that anyone reading this will be somewhat disconcerted about how we acquired our Ruby, and believe me, I still look back on it as a somewhat dream-like event. But one look at Ruby’s fearful brown eyes, all sense and reason flew out of the window.

 

Throughout most of the journey home Ruby remained curled up tightly on my lap, trembling with fear. I spoke to her gently and stroked her velvet soft ears; eventually she stopped shaking and slept for the last part of the journey. Ruby was coming home.

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