This is Juno the Whippet, also known from time to time as Ju-Ju, the Hellhound, That Fool Dog, Sillybeeste, The Bouncehound and DogNose. She joined our household in February of 1998. Mark was a tad reluctant initially (not being a doggy sort of person) but agreed to my getting a dog as long as it wasn't too obnoxious. We agreed on a whippet since whippets are not a particularly vocal breed, are not "protective" (ie. don't tend to be terribly aggressive toward people they don't know), and have the charm, grace and elegance of all the sighthound breeds. When I visited the whippet breeder, all the puppies leapt all over me enthusiastically and chewed my hair as I sat down among them... except one, who snuck into my lap while I was distracted by the others, and snuggled up into a little ball. That was Juno.
We were a bit concerned initially about how she'd get on with six well-established cats, but we needn't have worried too much. When she arrived (at the age of about 3 months old) the cats let her know very early on exactly who had the sharpest claws, and she never pushed her luck too far. Before long, they were all eating out of the same food bowls and were sleeping together in the kennel on cold nights.
I had early delusions of taking Juno to obedience classes and having a beautifully obedient, co-operative dog who would come when I called, heel when I said and generally behave the way I wanted. After all, I had taken my sister's huge yak of a dog to obedience classes for some while, and he had been a sterling success... he had gone from wildly uninhibitedly bouncy to merely rambunctious, which was definitely progress. However, Juno had other ideas. She would pay attention for the first fifteen minutes or so of the obedience class, then decide that it was all too tedious for words and that now it was time to do exactly what she pleased. After a few months of this, I decided that the whole exercise was rather pointless, since one of the main purposes for doing obedience work with her in the first place was to built a sense of working- together between myself and my dog. If she really wasn't interested, I wasn't going to force her. I find it rather ironic that when I take her out in public now, many of my friends compliment me on how well-trained and cooperative she is. I suppose it just goes to show that Juno is quite capable of learning, but reserves the right to choose whether or not she feels like being obedient. I think that's a fair cop.
One of Juno's favourite hobbies involves being an Escape Artiste. We have a perfectly acceptable back garden for a dog such as Juno; unfortunately, she thinks it is quite unacceptable if she is in the back garden and I am not. The first night that she was with us she demonstrated her talents by squirming under the back gate through a gap only inches wide, and presenting herself under my bedroom window in the middle of the night, yipping loudly for attention. The next morning I remedied this gap under the gate with a construction of wire and plastic mesh, and that was that (or so I thought). But the side gate and wall has been a fertile challenge to Juno's rather creative form of escapology.
The next time she got out was a couple of months later; I was out of town at the time, and Mark didn't see what happened; so we had absolutely no idea how this little puppy not much bigger than a big cat had got out a fence over five feet high. Initially I thought that somebody had left the gate open... but no. She jumped. And thus the legend of The Amazing Levitating Whippet was born.
I finally caught her in the act one day. I was standing in the kitchen looking out the window (which looks over the side wall, among other things). From time to time I'll see one of the cats looking back in, as they perch on the nearly-six-foot-high wall. I did not expect to see Juno looking back at me through the window - but there she was, large as life, standing on top of the wall.
Okay, so it's war is it? We started constructing barricades across the top of the wall; but each time we put up something new, Juno would find another way around it. So we'd add something else - another row of mesh across the top, more wire to hold it all rigid, more sticks projecting in all directions to make it hard for Juno to jump over. Eventually we started calling the fortification "Colditz"... and friends started asking us when we were planning to install the guard towers and spotlights!
In case you're wondering, this story is ongoing and we have no idea who the eventual winner will be. Juno has recently learned to climb (that's what you get for raising a whippet among cats, I suppose), so I await the next developments with interest (sigh).