Animals

By Kim Reader


These gorgeous whippet siblings proved sharing is caring as all four pups fetched one giant stick – with looks of pure joy on their faces as they ran around lined up along the branch.

Eight-month-old puppies Patch, Wynter, Digger, and Maud were enjoying a family reunion when they all picked up the same stick in Bishopsgate woods in Eastleigh, Hamps, last weekend.

Their mum Willow looked on proudly as her pups decided to ‘share their toys’, all bounding about while holding onto a little bit of branch each.

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Damian Down, 32, and his fiancée Daniella Hone, 28, who own Willow and Wynter, had agreed to pet sit Digger, Patch and Maud while their owners went on holiday – and took the brood for a walk in the woods.

After hours trying to get some nice snaps of the siblings, mechanic Damian suddenly found himself running backwards desperately trying to get a shot of their adorable antics.

Damian, of Eastleigh, Hamps, said: “I’d taken hundreds of photos that day and none of them were any good.

“Daniella and I had been trying everything to get them all looking the same way, shaking sticks around, but none of that worked.

“Then Daniella picked up this big stick and all four of the pups latched onto it and started running away with it.

“Suddenly I was running, trying to overtake them then running backwards in front of them trying to get photos.

“They looked so happy with themselves. They were like kids sharing their toys.

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“Their mum got involved briefly but generally she was just in the background looking on.

“We were so happy when we got home and realised we’d managed to get some good photos. It was so funny to watch.

“It’s the first time we’ve had so many of the pups back together so it was nice to see them getting along so well. They were great with each other.

“Daniella and I were really particular about who we sold Willow’s puppies to and we all keep in touch. We have a Whatsapp group where we share pictures and talk about how they’re getting on.

“Digger’s owners messaged us a little while back to say their dog sitter had fallen through last minute and asked if we could look after him. We thought ‘why not?’.

“Then within days the same happened with Maud and Patch so we ended up with all three. It was a bit of a family reunion.”

The couple, who have two kids Olivia Down, four, and Reuben Down, two, fell in love with their first family pet Willow so much that they decided to breed her and keep one female pup, Wynter.

Wynter’s siblings all went to loving homes and the pet owners keep in regular contact – so there may be more delightful family reunions in store.

With a growing family, Damian and Daniella wanted to choose a breed that would be good with kids and said the gentle pooches are perfect.

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Damian said: “When we got Willow we thought she was such a fantastic dog that we decided we would breed her and keep one of the pups.

“We plan to have more litters and we’ll do the same again.

“We are just massive fans of whippets. I have owned several dogs throughout my life, I have grown up with them, but whippets are by far my favourite breed.

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“Now we have kids we wanted a breed we could trust with children – that was our number one priority – and whippets are perfect.

“They have such gentle and timid characters. They’re lazy dogs when they’re at home and sleep loads.

“But when you take them out for a walk they are mental. They’re great fun.”