And then there were five

Life in our household used to be a bit mad.  And by mad, I mean up and down like a yo-yo with an average noise level rated as extreme.  It was also mad as in one minute we’re all getting along swimmingly and the next minute it’s fisticuffs.  I think the madness level was pretty much on par, for a family with two young children.

And then, along came Billie.

Along came BillieBillie who has impulse control issues and a penchant for destruction.  Billie with her fetish for eating pencils, the children’s soft toys, and human food (straight off the table).  If she’s not supposed to have it, you can bet she wants it – with every fibre of her being.

Billie is what you might call a keen gardener.  In fact keen is an understatement – I’d venture she’s more of a fervid gardener.  She has a grand vision for our back yard, and in this vision, succulents just will not be tolerated.  The ones in pots are toppled, and those in the garden beds are enthusiastically chomped apon.   I like to think that her online dating profile might go something along the lines of:

‘Hi, I’m Billie.  I have a shoe fetish and a penchant for rigorous pruning and excavation work’.

Needless to say, we’ve given the winter veggie garden a miss this year.

Billie is also a keen collector.  She curates and covets the strangest things – such as the awful fluorescent green wig and the Hulk mask from the kids’ dress-up box.  These enigmatic items are so much more tasty and interesting than the dedicated dog chewy toys we bought for her. And her collection continues to grow – so that this week I had to buy her a toy box of her own.

She fills it by slowly appropriating more and more of the kids toys – each desperate dash into the playroom being carefully timed and orchestrated.  She has learnt, you see, that possession is 9/10ths of the law.  And persistence pays off.

naughty billie brady bunch.jpg

And then there’s the food thing.  The problem is that Billie just isn’t that fond of dog food – which is troubling for me as a mother, dietitian and general food enthusiast.  I simply can’t have a skinny dog.

I mix up puppy milk for her every morning (even though she’s technically too old for it now). Sometimes I squat next to her and coo words of encouragement while she eats.   And the other night I even added double cream to her doggy kibble, in an effort to bump up the calories and tempt her little tastebuds.

I know – she’s a Whippet, and they’re skinny right?  But I can’t seem to help it – I’m a feeder.

I can, however, confirm that she is growing, because last Friday when I tried to bath her in the laundry sink, she didn’t really fit anymore.  There was a lot of scrabbling, splashing, slipping around and sweary outbursts until we finally emerged  – both utterly flustered and dripping wet.   It was not unlike trying to bath a baby giraffe.

Another development of late is that my weekly purchases of paper towel and disinfectant wipes are slowing, and I can’t remember the last time I stepped in a puddle of urine.  In fact, Billie has recently taken to tapping at the back door to go out for a wee. Can I tell you how exciting that is?!  To me, it’s a bit like finding a forgotten fifty in my jeans pocket.

What - they do dog graduation certificates now?

What – they do dog graduation certificates now?

The main reason she’s learnt to do this, of course, is the treaties.  If we learnt nothing else from puppy pre-school, we learnt that treaties are the currency Billie works on.  Thanks to treaties she can also sit, and drop, and wait at the road.  Which is why my pockets are always full of liver treats these days (no forgotten fifties to be found).

It’s also the reason why the people at City Farmers LOVE me.

And when I add up all the food, the paraphernalia, puppy pre-school lessons, kennel make-over expenses, doggie parkers (plural, because she ate the first one), vet bills and registration ..

…well, the truth is that I don’t.  I think it would give me a small coronary to see the final figure.  And that wouldn’t achieve much now would it?

The cost of Billie

So what’s life like with a Billie in the family?  It’s a little bit more mad than before, but it’s good.

It’s good to see the kids race out to greet her when we get home, and to hear her skidding around the house at top speed first thing in the morning.  I secretly love it when she goes missing at night, and I find her quietly snuggled up and eyeing me sheepishly from one of the kids’ beds.  And she gets us out of the house and walking every day.  She reminds me that what really matters isn’t that the beds are made or that the floor is mopped. Housework will always be there tomorrow.

We’re just so in love with our kleptomaniac, hyperactive, little bony-assed dog, it’s insane.

Billie goes to the park







Hi, I’m the new puppy

Allow me to introduce myself – I’m model no. WHIPPET-14T.  I’m fitted with standard soulful grey eyes, and yes, I am very cute.


Care instructions:

During my first few days at home with you, you’ll feel like an anxious first-time mother with a precious newborn.  I’ll cry at night time, and catapult myself toward the laundry door out of desperation and anxiety, causing you to feel heartless for wrenching me from my mother’s breast.  And as you get up to comfort me, you’ll remember with horror, the broken sleep that comes with a newborn.  I’m pretty much as demanding, but you can’t breastfeed me to sleep.

To compound your anxiety, I’ll refuse to eat dog food or drink water, but I’ll delight in eating anything which is not a foodstuff.  Please see the ‘traffic light’ guide below for my preferences.

Puppy diet preferences - days 1-3

It’s universally accepted that puppies love to chew shoes – but did you know this is not limited to inanimate shoes?  I much prefer moving shoes (with real feet in them) due to their interactive nature, and the added element of potentially tripping the big person inside them.  Awesome.

If there are no shoes available, I’ll settle for odd socks, pyjamas or underwear.

shoe fetish Specifications:

The model you have purchased includes variable speed control (options being ‘ON’, ‘OFF’ and ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’).

In ‘ON’ mode, I am pretty intense.  If you plan on getting down low to say hi when I’m ‘ON’, you may want to cover your earlobes and nostrils – I’m fast, and my teeth are needle sharp.

Over the course of a day, be prepared for me to enter into the ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’ mode at random intervals (during which I have been likened to the lead character from The Wolf of Wall Street, after he’s just snorted five consecutive lines of coke off a prostitute’s buttocks).   In this mode, I enjoy taking flying leaps at your body, and running in crazed circles around the yard at breakneck speed.

'ON' mode

Factory settings mean that the ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’ phase is followed immediately by the ‘OFF’ phase (this may last for periods of up to 2 hours at a time).  During the ‘OFF’ phase, it is normal for you to wonder what has gone wrong with me, and to poke me to check if I’m still alive.  I won’t wake up.

I generally enjoy solitude when ‘OFF’, and may take to hiding under furniture to achieve this.  However, I’m very adaptable, and can just as easily complete an ‘OFF’ cycle while sleeping on a small bush.

'do not disturb' mode

‘do not disturb’ mode

 Warnings and troubleshooting

On the first morning, I’ll be so overwhelmed with excitement that I’ll leap out of the child’s arms and land awkwardly, provoking a good 15 minutes of high anxiety as I limp around the kitchen with a potentially broken leg.  You’ll wonder if there is a pet equivalent of the Maternal and Children Health line.

Contrary to popular belief, I do not know what the words ‘wee wee’ or ‘poo poo’ mean. I’m especially uninterested in these terms when taken outside in the rain in the small hours of the morning.

You are strongly advised to purchase paper towel and antiseptic wipes in bulk.

A personalised message from your WHIPPET-14T

I’d really love to know more about these things that you scatter around the house at night. Is this an obstacle course?  Are they like lily pads? Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to urinate or defecate on them.  As you will have noticed, I’m very careful to wee anywhere but on these.

Tonight's obstacle course was really tricky, but I did manage to avoid weeing on the lily pads

Tonight’s obstacle course was really tricky, but I did manage to avoid weeing on the lily pads

Also, thank  you so much for buying all of these colourful, chewy little rubber things for me.  You’ve gone to so much trouble to supply them in each room of the house.  But why do you always remove them from my mouth, as soon as I have my gums around their rubbery goodness?

I love loom bracelets

And finally – that really big dude with the low voice?  The one who thinks dogs should live outside?  Don’t worry – I’m working on him.  Last night when you were out, he let me sit in the lounge room and lick his toes 😉