Ian and Fleur
What made you get Fleur in the first place?
I have always loved dogs, having had a cocker spaniel as a close companion through most of my childhood. We got Fleur as the house seemed empty three months after the death of our previous whippet, Lance. He was a great friend to our son, who is an only child.
How did you choose this breed?
My wife is not really a dog person, so when my son and I were persuading her to have a dog, we wanted one which was quiet, clean and didn’t leave hairs and mess everywhere. We had previously had a cat called Guinevere for 19 years, so called our first whippet Lancelot. Both whippets have been true to their breed, avoiding mud where possible, loving exercise, but then being calm and affectionate when in the house. Lance was silent for his first 8 years, but Fleur talks to us and also retrieves balls. My son really loves her to see her, despite thinking no dog could replace his childhood companion.
What is the most rewarding thing you have found about owning a pet?
To select a single thing is tricky, but Fleur rewards us daily with her warm welcome, unconditional love and amusing behaviour. She can be demanding at times, such as complaining because her bed is no longer in the sun!! Her blistering pace and 360-degree spins to tempt other dogs to chase her are glorious sights to behold.
Have you encountered any problems (illnesses, behavioural, social) with your pet?
We never have any behavioural problems really, because Fleur loves everything and everyone; especially if people are picnicking!
In terms of illness, she unfortunately has started having epileptic seizures within the last year. The first occurrence happened when we were watching television late one Friday evening and was quite scary, as she went rigid, foamed at the mouth, hallucinated, etc. We called the out-of-hours vet, who decided to keep her in overnight for observation. She had another seizure a few days later but then none for 3 months, but sadly they started again and the frequency increased to 4 in a day, so she is now on regular medication. This has initially required blood tests every few weeks to check the level of medication in her system, plus the twice-daily tablets. We haven’t been able to determine what might be triggering the fits, but we try to stop her getting too excited before meals, as a side-effect of the drugs is to make her even more hungry!!
Throughout all of this it has been a relief to know that we were covered by a decent insurance company.
What is your top tip for people thinking about adding a pet to their family?
You should not go into pet ownership lightly, because it will occupy a fair proportion of your time, patience and attention. In return, you will receive years of devotion, love, amusement and companionship. Dogs are not allowed everywhere, but Fleur went motor-homing to 7 countries before she was 18 months old and kennels are always available for pet-free trips.
Do you have any funny stories to share with us about Fleur?
Fleur is normally in open fields, but enjoys the occasional walk into town, with its takeaway scraps on the pavement. Recently, when untying her from a post after popping into the bakery, she shot off down the (pedestrianised) high street, into the pet shop and straight into the dog treat “pick ‘n’ mix” counter. Somewhat embarrassed, I got her back on the lead as fast I could!