We are the Champions"

This page was originally created for Rio in 2000. He has since celebrated two more birthdays and is now 15 years old.

Shirley Davis celebrates her whippet Rio's birthday and this page is for Rio.


Rio is 13 years old today -- or older. After consulting with our vet, we gave him this birthday almost ten years ago. Rio came to us from Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue.

Here is his story (poem previously published in SPDR Speaks, September/October 1991):


Run, whippet, run. Run, run, run.
New puppy whippet, can't keep him home.
Crate him, cage him, tie him up alone.
Give him to a neighbor; we can't keep him home.

Run, whippet, run. Run, run, run.
Here's his new yard -- it doesn't have a fence.
Run, whippet, run. (These owners have no sense.)
He loses his tail when hit by a car,
Still the whippet runs, near and far.
Mauled by a big dog, they won't pay the vet.
Get rid of him; he's not home yet.

Poor little whippet, on a rusty chain.
Wounded body, wounded soul, castaway again.

But I want this whippet and this is what I say:

Run, whippet, run. Run, run, run.
Run in my fenced yard; run beside me on my bike.
Run on a long lead whenever you like.
Run with my other dog; have a lot of fun.
Run with my children; run, run, run.
Learn some new words: "sit," "stay," and "come."
Practice your lessons, then we'll run, run, run.
Sweet little whippet, you won't be left alone.
Run, whippet, run. All the way home.

"Rio with Mom and adopted sibs"

Ten days after the dog mauling and no medical treatment, Rio was surrendered to Rescue. After I received him, he required two additional surgeries for preexisting injuries.

Rio had more baggage than any dog should carry; had he been a larger breed, he would have been put down. He was severely dog aggressive, chased noisy vehicles, stole food, and was an escape artist to rival Houdini. His pain threshold was so high that he would suffer any injury to engage in the above behaviors. He tolerated a leash only in the absence of other dogs and noisy vehicles. He avoided human contact. Because of his injuries, he leaked poop. He knew not a word of English, including his name. He still is claustrophobic and easily car sick.

Rio eating peanut butter (or trying to)

Then he met me, Stubborn Woman Extraordinaire. Although it took time, I am proud to say that he passed beginner's obedience at the top of his class (a large class including a half-dozen rottweilers, two aussies and a cattle dog) and in 1999 earned a CGC. Rio finally realized that he had been elevated to princely status, what with a whippet bed in every room and regular meals and treats, and he now behaves like the regal dog he is.

Rio now believes that strange dogs and noisy vehicles are cues to get treats from Mom. Although he will raid the trash, he no longer steals food. In his senior years, he is trustworthy off-leash. His extensive English vocabulary requires us to speak in code (or spell) if he is eavesdropping, and we've had to change code words a few times! He is aloof with non-family members, but overall is mentally and emotionally sound. What a tribute to innate Whippet integrity! We're looking forward to many more birthdays -- the bad boy has come home to my heart.

Rio sleeping in his kitchen bed

About Me:

I live in Western Washington with my husband of 25 years and an adult daughter attending college. I have a disabled son who lives in a nearby apartment and requires a bit of my time. I have lived with a dog or dogs for the past 24 years and currently have three rescues. My dream is to have a sighthound rescue & rehab kennel, with a kennel name HAVEHOPE, so rescues passing through could receive a dignified name as well as a new life.

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