Celebrate the Whippet Breed

Grovenor Whippets

Sonja K. Klein, 1932-1996

My mother had a life-long affection for dogs. As she told me, there were always dogs in the family as she grew up. A german shepherd dog or two, cocker spaniels, a boston terrier, a chihuahua. But her true love was the whippets. She was proof that the breed is an addiction, that these animals are very special.

This is mother and me with Grovenor's Fame 'n Fortune, littermate to Ch. Grovenor's Bold 'n Brassy. Photo is from 1973

The Grovenor name is an homage to where my mother grew up. She was born in Cleveland. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to Cleveland Heights. The street they lived on was Grosvenor Road. The "natives" pronounce it with the "s", but my mother decided to spell it as the English pronounce it, with a silent "s". It also saved a letter back in the days when the AKC strictly limited a registered name to 25 or 26 letters.

This is Seyberne's Lady Guinevere, CD, with my sister, Jaye. Jaye handled Guin to her CD in three straight trials.

We got into whippets in a roundabout way, almost by accident. In the early sixties, the family had been given a toy poodle by a relative. It was down from the German Miessen (sp?) line. Even then, my mother was studying pedigrees. She had bred a litter and was going with the owner of the stud dog to visit another kennel to look at and talk about toy poodles.. It was Marjorie Siebern's place. Marge had recently bred a litter of whippets, and had a puppy left. My mother took one look at her and decided that we had to have her. Thus, Seyberne's Lady Guinevere, CD became the Grovenor foundation bitch. She was a Ricky (Ch. Courtenay Fleetfoot of Pennyworth)x Pennyworth Betony daughter. She brought Guin home in 1965. I then found out how special whippets are. My mother realized that Guin and I had a very special bond, and made Guin my dog. My mother began studying whippet pedigrees and learning all she could about the breed. Along with raising a family (my sister, Jaye, my brother,Kenneth, and me) the whippets became my mother's life's work. She came to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the breed, learning as many pedigrees as he could and finding out about certain dogs and their ancestors. Had I been able to convince her to put that information on paper, it would have taken volumes. She was able to look at a dog and have a fairly good idea as to how it would move before ever laying a hand on it. She had an incredible eye for dogs. Up until the early 80's we still had toy poodles. She had virtually the same knowledge and affection for that breed. She and my sister, Jaye, bred the top toy poodle (and number 4 toy) in the country in 1979.

This is my favorite of my mother and Pawlie, Ch. Grovenor's Bold 'n Brassy
This was after they came out of the group ring. I was assisting photographer Stephen Klein and we still had another group and BIS before we could head home.

When it came time to breed our first litter of whippets, we took Guin to Ch. Morshor's Whirlaway. Of a litter of four, she produced two champions, one of which, Ch. Seyberne's Sunshine of Usher, was a BIS winner.The other, Ch. Grovenor's Miss Chiff, was our first champion. That started the Grovenor line. She believed in the truly multi-purpose whippet. Although we showed almost exclusively, there are a number of field champions and obedience dogs in the line. The Grovenor name figures into quite a lot of prominent pedigrees. We linebred heavily on Ricky, Flame, and Barndance, something my mother never lost sight of, and I'm trying to carry on that work.

Ch. Grovenor's Bold'n Brassy
Ch. Morshors Bold 'n Brave x Ch. Grovenor's Miss Chiff

One of my mother's greatest pleasures was showing the dogs. She was happiest in the ring. It was a great disappointment to her, when due to declining health, she was no longer able to show the dogs. As her health declined the things that kept her going were the dogs, and most importantly, her family. As proud as she was of the dogs, her proudest moment came in 1993, when my brother Kenneth and his wife Beth presented her with her first grandchild, Joshua Joseph Klein.

Ch. Grovenor's Miss Chiff
Ch. Morshor's Whirlaway x Seyberne's Lady Guinevere, CD

She was always planning the next progression of the line. How to keep the old blood, but keep the line moving forward. How to better the breed, how to keep the classic whippet look and function. That was her legacy to me and the breed and how I'm sure she'd most like to be remembered.