AD – This post is sponsored by PetPlan*
When our daughter wanted nothing but a puppy for her ninth birthday, I wasn’t sure what to do. My husband and I had both grown up with cats as pets, and had never even taken a dog for a walk, let alone lived with one. Our son, three years old at the time, was very nervous around dogs. And if we did get a dog, we weren’t sure who would look after it when we were off on our travels. But our daughter was very determined, and so she and I set about researching different dog breeds to see if we could find one which would fit in with our family.
As we had no experience of dog ownership, we decided that if we were going to get a dog, it had to be a puppy which could grow up with us. Thinking about breeds, we wanted a small, easygoing dog with a short coat. We found out that whippets have all of these characteristics. Whippets are sight hounds and are gentle, affectionate, calm and adaptable – ideal for novice dog-owners like us. We found a litter of whippet puppies a couple of hours’ drive away from where we live. We arranged to go and see them, and to meet their breeder, so that we could decide whether or not we’d be able to take on a whippet. My husband and son weren’t totally on board with the dog plan at this stage, but the four of us went together to see the puppies.
Obviously as soon as we met the puppies and were shown the particular one which the breeder thought should be ours, we fell in love with her. The puppy had a grey coat (the breeder told us that the proper term was ‘blue’) with a white chest, and she was old enough to leave her mum. She was gentle, calm and gorgeous – and there was no way that we were leaving there without her. She came home with us that day. Our daughter named the puppy Bluebell, both because of her ‘blue’ coat and because the woods by our house are carpeted with bluebells each spring. Bluebell soon settled in. She loved running around with the kids in the garden. Our son’s nervousness around dogs melted away. My daughter and I took her to puppy training classes and learnt about responsible dog ownership, while Bluebell tried her best to ignore the commands that we were supposed to teach her (I don’t think she liked the cold hard floor of the hall where the classes took place).
One of the best parts of the day for me is going for a walk with Bluebell in the countryside where we live. We usually walk for about half an hour, but she’s happy with a shorter or a longer walk too. These days it’s usually just me who takes her out, although my daughter will join us if she’s around. Bluebell always stays close by when we’re walking, even when she’s off the lead, and she never barks at or chases other dogs. So walking with Bluebell is generally a very calm, relaxing experience – apart from the time when she was injured by another dog (I wrote about this in The one with the dog attack). Thankfully she made a full recovery.
Because she’s so adaptable, Bluebell’s pretty easy to look after, and people are happy to have her to stay. When we go abroad, she either stays with friends or family or we book a house sitter to come and look after her at home. We’ve never put her in kennels, and I can’t imagine doing so – she likes her home comforts too much.
A few months ago Bluebell became unwell, and a tumour was discovered on one of her kidneys. As she was otherwise fit and healthy, our vet recommended that the kidney and tumour be removed. We learnt that, just like humans, dogs can survive with one kidney. The surgery was complicated but it went well. It’s great to have her back home and I’m very happy to say that the remaining kidney seems to be doing a good job. (If you have a dog, it’s definitely worth getting comprehensive dog insurance in case they ever need costly surgery!)
Bluebell is a quiet, friendly companion, and she always likes to be with us, wherever we are in the house or garden. When I’m working at home on my laptop, she sits right next to me, shadowing me if I move to a different room.
When I walk through the front door she comes to say hello. She’s particularly delighted when my husband arrives home from work in the evening, when she sets about trying to convince him that she’s had nothing to eat (he always falls for it). According to recent research on UK pet ownership**, 41% of pet owners refer to their pet as their best friend, and 44% call their pet their ‘baby’. Bluebell was definitely one of our family from day one and is a constant, devoted and loyal friend.
Over to you
If you have a pet, do you think of them as one of the family, or as a friend? How does your pet enrich your life?
*Disclosure: This is a paid post in conjunction with Petplan Pet Insurance, but all thoughts, words and images are my own, as ever.
**According to PetPlan’s 2018 Pet Census, the UK’s largest pet ownership study, in which more the 60,000 pet owners took part.