Posted by: fireweaver | June 25, 2009

head trauma, or, adding a second dog to the household

having finished up at my horseback riding lesson, i hopped in the car this evening to see the phone all lit up like a christmas tree.  Chris had called repeatedly, and left 3 text messages.  right there up top, “call asap, dog injury!”

oh dear, here we go again with the craziness.

Xyla had settled in quite nicely in the 4 months she’d been an only child.  we’d figured out her little behavior quirks – i.e., trying to teach her not to do stuff was unrealistic, but managing her by confining her to the kitchen instead of letting her run amok in the whole house was working marvelously.  Chris kept teasing me that there was SO much room left at the foot of the couch, and Xyla kept clotheslining herself on the end of the leash with delirious eagerness every single time another dog walked by – clearly, it was time to make this a 2 kid household.  the whippet rescue people happened to have a few dogs immediately available, so it didn’t take the couple of months of searching that finding the first one did.  when the newbie arrived, on looks alone, he seemed a great idea: she’s a white-faced blond dog, and he’s a blond-faced white dog, what a matched set!  personality, though, took a bit longer.  for the first week, it was all stand-offish: he’s a huge tank of a whippet (which, ok, makes him a smallish tank, so he’s named Saxon), he has NO personal boundaries and will step all over you (dog or person), and he’s just HELLO I’M HERE!!  Xyla swiftly developed a frosty dignity.  all of a sudden, she was every inch the princess, looking down her long tapered nose at this barbarian invader.  i was seriously worried for a few days that we weren’t the right home for him.

also, he was crazy in his own way.  attempts to separate them while we weren’t around to supervise were an epic fail.  2 days after Saxon’s arrival, Chris and i left to run some errands, so i put the boy in the crate and the girl in her usual spot in the kitchen.  he chewed a bar off the new metal crate before forcing the door open and pooping on the entry rug to greet us home enthusiastically.  he’s tall and springy, and i was quite paranoid he’d be able to clear my short backyard fence, but obviously we had no further choice and it was off to the back with him, too.  the highlight was watching his 44Lb bulk ponderously snake through the small dog door that her 27Lb gazelle body negotiates with ease.

sometime around day 5 or 7 or so, the first whippet war broke out.

if you don’t know animals (and i’ve been contending for months now that there is a very decided difference between animal lovers and animal people), you would determine that i’m running some kind of michael vick ring within the walls of my fence.  there’s a lot of leaping and snarling and bared teeth, and it sounds utterly vicious.  the whole time, ears are up and tails are wagging; for all it appears to be a death match, it’s just a fun puppy game.

after that first whippet war, they were super friends.  after 6 weeks of battles, i need my backyard re-sodded.  there used to be a noticeable dead patch in the grass of a bit more than a meter in diameter just off of the patio, which has since been extended to be nearly half of the yard.  when it rains, i have mudpit central, and while her dainty little feet generally pick up a light smattering of detritus, his tank treads bring clods of grime into the house.

by far, though, his least delightful habit is his chewing.  it’s as though she’s the instigator, slyly sneaking into some minor trouble, and he follows up by showing her how much bigger and better the mischief can be done.  i’ve had to replace the baskets on my pantry shelves with smooth-fronted cabinet doors (which is to say, the smattering of dust on some of my wine bottles isn’t venerable aging of the booze, nope, it’s the remnants of a 5LB bag of flour that snowed all over the kitchen, along with the stock bags of salt and sugar), the edges of my sturdy english antique kitchen chairs are noticeably gnawed, i have to replace the insides of all the dog beds (the children share a love of zipper removal), and the lovely new kangaroo-leather nametag collars were devoured quick as any rawhide stick.  i made them nametag collars out of hardware store findings (which work, but rub their hair out where they’re joined, so that’s no good), and i’m trying to teach myself how to weave chainmail so they can have pretty colored titanium chew-proof collars.

any time you can state in all honesty, “i’m learning to weave chainmail for my dogs,” you know the Krazy! is at an all-time high.  but it’s utterly worth it:

the 2 cutest little troublemakers evar

he’s the sweetest big teddybear you ever met – permanently up for a big hug.  the 2 of them make an irresistible cuddle tag team, and the ease of napping on the couch is exponentially higher when you have whippets piled on both sides of you.  they have a blast playing together, and you just can’t get irritated with all that pure joy going on.  in a scary/awesome turn of events, they have been known on occasion to hunt beautifully as a pack at the dog park (though some people don’t appreciate my kids playing rough with theirs).  they’re such a smartly matched pair of sleek and beautiful dogs that they’ve literally stopped traffic in my neighborhood (as in, people have pulled over to ask what kind of gorgeous dogs they are).  they’re both settled into my house and my heart:  ya gotta love them, and i really do.

i called Chris right away tonight, of course, as much to ask if he was ok as to ask what happened to the dogs.  he’s the main exhibit of that animal people/lover philosophical discussion – he’s the latter while i’m the former – so i don’t assume practical parenting comes naturally to him.  he was definitely shaken up, but everything was resolved by the time i’d called.  turns out that while he was in the kitchen, he heard a whippet war break out upstairs, then rumble like thunder down the stairs.  there was an odd thump, and then it was quiet.  Chris found Saxon in a heap at the foot of the stairs, knocked out cold.  apparently, his swifter and wilier sister must have tripped him on the way down, and he hit his head on the floor.  after a few seconds, he’d gotten up, shook it off, and was fine.  he got a thorough neuro exam when i got home, and yes, all is well with the kids.  Xyla didn’t escape unscathed, she has a little fresh scratch just over one eyebrow.  these are, no euphemism, my kids – i came home to head trauma and a concussion, so it’s just like any other pair of 2 year olds, i’d guess.

except that at some point, i have to work on refinishing the kitchen chairs.


  1. Goodness, those kids keep you busy! They are so very cute, though. (Saxon looks huge next to Xyla! It’s like they’re drawn to different scales.)

  2. they are kinda drawn to different scales – he’s leaning towards the camera just enough to skew the perspective. but yes, he is FAR larger than her. people have asked if he’s a greyhound/whippet hybrid (and no, he’s not. just a good bit outside the breed standard).

  3. Xyla…what a very unique name.

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