My name is Wendy and I live with, and am owned by a Greyhound named Angie and a Whippet named Sarah. My two children, William and Ethan, and my husband, Trent together with two cats make up our family. Angie came to live with us in December last year through the Greyhound adoption program. We fostered her first and fell in love with her and decided she had to stay. At that time I was working as an assistant financial planner and was finding the hours tough with two small children. A friend who also has a Greyhound told me about the Responsible Pet Ownership Program.
This program is aimed at teaching kindergarten and primary school aged children how to stay safe around dogs and be responsible pet owners. It sounded great, it would be a job with school hours and doing something I believed in. Angie had to be assessed through the department of primary industries, and this was done in April.
The assessment is to ensure that the dogs in the schools can cope with just about anything and recover quickly from unexpected shocks such as a loud noise and the high pitch squeals that children can make at times. Angie passed with flying colors!! After doing some training we were on our own and loving it. Our trainer coincidently, was a whippet owner named Bernadette Kelly and her beautiful Whippet, O’Malley. Angie is a big Greyhound (35kg) and because of her size is only allowed to operate in schools and not Kindergartens. Each dog in the program is only allowed to work three 2 hour sessions per week. To allow me to work more, the family decided to adopt another dog in June. We loved the temperament of our Greyhound but decided we wanted a smaller dog to allow me to also work in Kindergartens. After meeting O’Malley and finding out about Whippets as much as possible, we decided we would adopt a Whippet. They sounded like they had a temperament similar to the Greyhound in a more compact size. We did not want to get a puppy for two reasons, firstly it would be a long time before they would be ready to work in the schools and secondly because we have two small children and it is very hard to train a puppy and children at the same time. The problem was – where to get an adult Whippet with the right temperament (as although they are a wonderful breed, it takes an extraordinary dog to be able to initially pass the temperament test and then to be able to work in the schools). I phoned the secretary of the Whippet association, Rae Mitchelson, and explained what I required and why. She was wonderful and said she would keep her eye out for me. She emailed me the next day saying she had found a dog for me. She put me in contact with Georgina Askew in Tasmania. She told me about a wonderful 16 month old bitch named Sarah. She had been shown but was not performing as well as some of her other dogs and she had decided to re-home her. She sounded perfect and although we were nervous about getting a dog without meeting her first, we decided to go ahead and adopt her. She arrived on the plane from Tasmania at the start of June. She was gorgeous and it was love at first sight. She settled in beautifully with the family and after a few minor hiccups with the cats, everything was smooth sailing. After only two months with us, the department decided to do another round of temperament testing. I was a little worried that it was too soon, but Sarah surprised me and passed brilliantly. At the same time, Angie the Greyhound injured her back while playing with Sarah and was not able to work. Sarah had to take over all her school bookings. She took it all in her stride and worked well and the children loved her (although some were concerned that she was too thin!!). Sarah and I also worked at Melbourne show, where she was again a hit and I think will inspire a whole new generation of Whippet owners. We are now working in Kindergartens, primary schools and special development schools. Not only is she a great work mate but a wonderful pet and my children’s best friend. She loves nothing more than going for a long run or playing on the trampoline with the boys. Wendy