Art critic Brian Sewell’s new autobiographical book, Sleeping with Dogs, will be published in October here in the UK. Over his eighty years Brian has lived with and devotedly cared for seventeen dogs, many of them rescues and a number of them whippets or whippet crosses.
Brian has very kindly allowed us to reproduce a short section from the book before its publication – a piece about his rescue whippet Jack by way of a teaser – and has also written an introduction to that excerpt for us.
Lord knows who had had Jack, my second whippet, from a pup, who had crushed her instincts and emotions, who had left her to die without food and water after throwing her over a high wall into a deserted yard. She was all but dead when rescued, and only after a full year of patient care did she become a normal dog again …
funny, affectionate, responsive and full of character. With new hair fully grown on the paws and tail that she had gnawed bare in her abandonment, she was well nigh perfect, with a little blaze on her chest and a faint hint of blue in her ears and running down her spine. Curious and confident, she consumed nuts and chocolate (neither of them good for dogs), cheese and yoghurt, and all the temptations sweet and salt for which dogs sell their souls, her appetite for bananas quite insatiable. To my great pleasure she learned to break all the rules of etiquette and nothing pleased me more than her standing and, trembling forepaws on the table, shaking it, insistently demanding some titbit from my plate, discreetly nipping me if I ignored her. With those same paws she pulled the duvet from my shoulders in the middle of the winter’s night, and when, in the morning, I made my bed, she watched, and as soon as the covers were smooth and straight, rolled on it, mad as a maenad, an ecstatic, stretching, wriggling wildness informing spine and limb, the back arching, head and neck thrashing from side to side, and then she’d haul the cover back and make a bird’s nest of my pillows.
So typical whippet behaviour then! Bless her paws.
With many thanks to Brian Sewell for his generosity and all that he has done to help whippets and other dogs in need.