Moonlake gang (two old girls opted out at last minute - you can just see them thrugh the legs on r. Photos: David Paton

Gay Robertson from England: My cousin had whippets and thirty years ago her daughter came back very distressed from a holiday job in a kennel saying that a puppy she had been looking after was going to be euthanased because he had retracted one of his testicles. I was living and working in Rome at the time and only in England on holiday but I thought I could probably find a home for the puppy before I went back to Italy so I said I would take it. You don't want the whole saga of what happened next but the upshot was that after several attempts to rehome the puppy that went wrong for no one's fault (car crashes, house burned down, bereavement) I came back to live in England and restarted my life with Luke who turned out to be quite a dog.



"What do you mean, brag?.... Where are the rest of them?" Splash with some of his trophies at the end of his first season in the ring. Photos: David Paton

Basic information came from my cousin who also introduced me to my puppy's breeder who was thrilled that he had been given a second chance but not hot on advice, beyond getting him a coat in winter. I met another whippet owner in the park and started racing so I was not short of advice there and then to my great joy, my cousin managed to get me into the coursing club (huge waiting list for membership). Luke turned out to be one of the fastest whippets around (150 yards in well under 9 secs) and everyone wanted to run their dogs against him. Mary Lowe (Nimrodel) became my mentor when I looked for a companion for Luke and bought a Nimrodel bitch and Dorrit Mackay kept me on the straight and narrow on the race front ("You don't deserve a good dog like that if you are not going to take better care of him" when I turned up at a race meet with Luke looking decidedly the worse for having spent the morning chasing hares on the downs - he won, anyway). Later, I was lucky enough to get to know Elsie Hawthorn (Deepridge) who allowed me to use Mintmaster the day before his fourteenth birthday and thereafter she took a keen interest in my whippet affairs and was unfailingly kind and helpful. Now I find that most people are helpful if asked and if one doesn't know the answer, another person probably will.

Left is Splash Credit The Field and right is Moonlake Mud in Your Eye, now living in Prague and wowing them on the Continent. Photos: R. Hofmannova

We all like to remember our wins and apart from them, memories that stick around are definitely *not* favourite. Like leaving Folly, my first home-bred bitch, in my mother's house because she was in season, while we went to some local event and coming back to discover that she had stripped the wall-paper from the newly decorated room and was lying back on a bed of feathers from the cushions she had disembowelled....She had also sicked up the paint/splinters she had chewed off the door. Folly was special to me: she measured 17 3/4" and did not win a lot in the ring - apart from my novice handling, she'd get bored in a big class unless fed surreptitiously with cheese sandwiches - also because being noticeably a size smaller than some of the 20" bitches being shown then, she either had to win the class or be nowhere. She had a good veteran career because people were reacting against the big bitches when she was 7 or 8.


Left is Fidget - M. Merely Strolling - current bed dog and top winning coursing bitch all clubs in her second season. Photos: M. Sarcochova and right is 'Tosh Photos: Carol Ann Johnson


Left is Fancy - M. Mustard - with her last coursing trophy, won at 10. Shortly afterwards, she was forced to retire due to a torn achilles tendon. Four years later, she is still chasing the bunnies. and rigt is Flint - M. Mint Sauce - a Mintmaster son, with his son, Mackerel in typical Moonlake mode

I'd like to see a return to the balanced whippets of the past so I'm not a good person to ask about the future. My special joys are the sight of a whippet that "fills my eye" with flowing harmonious lines, all in proportion, yet still looks as if he could pick up a hare with minimum fuss and actually seeing him do it is breathtaking. Which is also hard to explain because I actually hate it when they catch anything. I think all country people have this difficulty: it is so self-evidently a natural act, the whippet is thrilled with his success, the hare has lived and died in a natural way (unlike the factory farmed animals) and feeds ten people and yet it is impossible not to feel regret for her death . I think this may be why we enjoy competitve coursing so much: the slipper's job is to ensure the hare has an adequate start on the dogs to escape so the kill is replaced by the thrill of winning the course, having a better dog than the competitor. It is difficult for people who live in urban areas or where agribusiness has wiped out the wildlife to understand so I guess that what I should like to share is this feeling of being part of the countryside with a whippet fulfilling his natural function.

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M. Mackerel (at back) with his boys aged 6 months, M. Mackintosh (front)& M. Making a Splash Photos: David Paton



Flight - M. Mickey Finn - doing what he did best. Sorry this is b/w, most coursing pix are due to the speed required.