Bonnie was my first Whippet. She was short in the back and quite muscular. She was a parti colour. A very pale shade of blue/grey/brown and white.
Bonnie did not bark. For the first couple of years of her life she did not bark. We would try and get her to bark for her food or a biscuit or a tit-bit and 'say please,' however nothing happened. Her mouth would move in barking mode and her teeth would clank together and she would get very excited but no sound came out.
Then, one day, we all sat round the table encouraging Bonnie to bark and 'say please.' There was a little movement in her chest area and this movement then rose up her neck and into her throat and she opened her mouth and out came a tiny squeak. We were thrilled to bits. Bonnie was thrilled to pieces. We did this several times until she got the hang of barking or squeaking and 'saying please.'
Bonnie never had a proper bark. She did not bark at the milkman, the postman or anyone who rang the front door bell. Always this little squeak came out after much effort and raising of her head and stretching of her neck.
When I left school one of my many jobs was delivering wallpaper. My round took me from Luton to Aylesbury, Amersham, Chesham, Reading, Windsor, Slough, Maidenhead, Old Windsor, Pinewood Studios and Hemel Hempstead.
At Old Windsor the shop I delivered to was very near Windsor Castle. I am not sure if the chap who owned it was pulling my leg but he would often say that Prince Phillip would be very pleased with the roll of wallpaper I had delivered. He also said the Queen and Prince Phillip often took a stroll and called in the shop for a chat and a cuppa!
One day I had finished my round and was driving home. I came to a junction near my home where five roads meet. It was often a difficult turning as there was a very narrow bridge to the left and cars would queue up to let each other through. The road I was travelling down was a hill and cars would go quite fast down there. The road to my right led to the Electrolux factory and many a time there would be a traffic jam. The roads were quite straight and cars would travel quickly along these routes.
I was quite near the junction when I saw Bonnie the other side of the road. How she had got there and who had let her out or left the gate open was a complete and utter mystery to me. I slowed my van down and looked in every direction for oncoming cars. Bonnie crossed the road and then two cars went by. She was on the opposite side of the road to me with her head down and running and sniffing the pavement at the same time.
I knew that if she heard my van engine she would recognise the sound and also if I opened the van door she would definitely know that noise.
I kept my eyes peeled up every road searching for traffic. Two more cars went by and then there was a gap. I gently slowed the van so as to make as little noise as possible and then, as it stopped I slid the van door back. Bonnie heard it and at the same time I saw a car in the distance. I called her and she began to recognise me but looked a bit bewildered. I quickly alighted from the van, stood up straight, called her and she galloped across the road and jumped straight into my open arms. Another car went by.
I got back into the van and put her on the passenger seat and told her what a clever dog she was. I was shaking like a leaf and it all reminded of the story of The Black Whippet and how he had jumped into the young lad's arms when he was in danger.
©Barbara Burgess 2014
Image courtesy of Rosen Georgiev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net