Sunday, February 6, 2011

Looking for an adult whippet? A puppy? Try WRAP!

Check out WRAP (Whippet Rescue and Placement) -- there are whippets available from puppies on up to seniors. The puppies are in Louisiana and North Carolina -- the ones in Lousiana are definitely mixes and the ones in North Carolina may or may not be purebred, but they sure look like whippets. WRAP does not ship, so you have to find one within driving distance. 


Senior whippets are a great opportunity to find out whether a sighthound is really your breed. You'll get a dog who's most likely housebroken, not too rambunctious, and it's not a 15-year commitment. Yes, you'll only have a few years with him, but think of the kindness you'll be doing for an old fellow who, through no fault of his own, has lost his home. We've always said that if people knew about the joys of old dogs, no one would be able to give away puppies! And every whippet deserves a sofa to call his own, 


There's a fee for the dogs (otherwise, how could they afford to take in the next whippet in need?) but it's very reasonable and varies with the age and condition of the dog. Go to http://www.whippet-rescue.com/available.html for more information.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why would you compete in agility with a whippet??

A few of our owners have run into the question, "Why would you do agility (or obedience or rally or whatever) with a whippet? The whippet isn't the easiest dog to train, he's not always cooperative, and he's eager to please the owner only when the action also pleases himself. But whippets can do well in agility and obedience and rally. It just takes a little more time and patience to train them. 


I figured out a couple of years ago that there are two types of competitors in dog events: those for whom the competition is the Thing and those for whom the dogs are the Thing. 


For people who are devoted to the Competition, it makes sense for them to get the very best dogs they can for the specific competition. That's where most (not all) of the Border collie people come from in obedience, agility, etc. If one dog doesn't get him to the goal, this person is likely to replace the dog with a more competitive one. 


I used to think this was a bad thing to do, but I've changed my mind. As long as the first dog is going to a home where he'll be adored for what he CAN do or IS, then he's better off than he would be with someone who is disappointed in him. There's not really any difference between those folks and the ones who show/breed dogs and "grow out" a puppy -- if she doesn't turn out to be breeding or show quality, it makes sense to let her go to a great home where she will be the most beautiful, perfect dog in the world! (It's very hard on the first owner, by the way, but it's best for the dog)


Then there are the people who have a dog and are looking for something to do with him. These people may be serious competitors, but they're not really expecting to be number one in the country at the sport. They don't usually care if they don't place in the ribbons (okay, so they may be disappointed, but it's not the end of the world) For these people, the Dog is the Thing and they would no more consider replacing a whippet with a Border collie just to win any more than they'd consider standing on their heads naked on New Year's Day. In the middle of Times Square. When it's snowing. 


Someone who is dead set and determined to make it to the World Agility Open is not going to get a sighthound to begin with! That's not to say a sighthound couldn't do it, but it would sure be a lot easier with a Border collie, a Sheltie, or a Jack Russell. THESE are the people who say, "Why would you do agility with a sighthound?" They assume that the Competition is the Thing for everyone. They don't mean any harm. They just don't get it. 


I've also met people who actually choose their breeds because it's easier to win with one of them in conformation showing. Whippets are difficult to finish championships on -- which is why we make such a big deal about it when someone actually gets points on one! That's because as show dogs, they are fairly popular. 


As a matter of fact, in this part of the country, a whippet is the 11th hardest breed to get a major on. (Winning a major essentially means you've beaten a lot of other dogs, not just a few, in a specific show.) It takes 12 females for three points. That's more than all other breeds except Labs, Goldens, Danes, Boxers, Shelties, Welsh Corgis, Papillons, Rottweilers, Pugs, and Bulldogs. Whoda thunk? The point system is based on the number of dogs of a breed typically being shown in an area. So the breeds above, plus whippets, are the dogs shown by the most people around here. It's similar in most of the rest of the country. Which means the most popular show dogs are not necessarily the most popular pets. The top five pets include Labs and Goldens, but also German Shepherds, Yorkies, and Beagles, which are not among the most popular dogs to show. 


But back to the matter at hand. Most of us compete because we want something to do with the dogs we already have and love.  And win or lose, we go home with the dog we brought to the dance..


And by the way, another congratulations to our Ashley (above) owned by Bobbie and Fred Lutz. That would be CH, UGRCH, URO2, UAGII, Timbreblue Windrydr Biker Girl, CD, SC, RA, NA, NAJ, NAP, NJP, FCH, CGC, TT. Obviously, it can be done!

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