Big dogs with bigger hearts
I knew from the age of 13 that one day, my life would include Irish Wolfhounds.
I had accompanied my friend Bev to the vets where she was taking her rabbit to get its nails clipped. As we sat in the waiting room, I felt something resting on my shoulder. I turned around to find myself gazing into the eyes of a magnificent Irish Wolfhound. That was it, I was smitten. The eyes were so soulful. I have never forgotten that moment & I knew that as soon as I was a grown up, I would be sharing my life with them.
It took 15 years, but I got there eventually & with a gap of 6 years (when the circumstances weren't conclusive to having a happy hound (i.e having to work all day!) they have been sharing our lives for the last 29 years.
Meet Riley, our big daft boy. By far largest wolfhound to be part of our family. He currently weighs 98kilos & is 91cm tall & is 3 years old. Unlike our last 3 wolfhounds, we have shared our lives with him since he was a puppy.
I'm heart broken to say that Riley left us 3 days after Christmas 2016 at aged just 4 years & 2 months. Despite all the medical help with his early diagnosis of kidney disease, the diet that we gave him, he lost his fight.
Izzy is our 3rd darling rescue wolfhound. We were allowed to adopt her when she was 15 months old in Dec 2009. Although she has been with us for 8 years, she is still wary of strangers, but that's OK, she's happy with us & our family so perhaps she's just super choosey.
In October 2015, she was diagnosed with a heart problem at a heart testing session run by the Irish Wolfhound Health Group. A wonderful charity that perform these tests on Wolfhounds for a paltry £40. In Oct 2016, it had become a tad worse, so she is now on 2 types of heart meds, but you'd never know she had a problem. She's still full of beans.
This is Fay, our blue Greyhound. She has been with us since October 2015. She just wasn't winning races any more so was surplus to requirements for her trainer. She is now enjoying her retirement (rather like me). Fay is the 2nd rescued greyhound to be part of our family.
Introducing the new member of our family
It was hard loosing Riley in December 2016, he left a huge hole in our hearts. However, as I expected, within a few months, I knew I would "have" to have another male wolfhound. We love the girls, but the males have always been such goofballs & such fun, they never seem to mature in quite the same way as the girls.
I had done my homework & researched a number of breeders. I knew where I wanted our next pup to come from & contacted them in January to say that when the time was right, we would love to be considered as the forever family for one of their puppies. This would give them time to home check us & as I had researched them, they could research us.
In May 2017, the time was right. Although they didn't have a litter of their own at that time, a bitch that they had breed had recently had a litter & the sire was one of their hounds.
They put us in touch & thankfully, we have Boyd.
Boyd was the 1st born in a litter of 7. His breeder & I are in touch very often & I share photo's of him growing with her. Personally, I think it's important to keep the contact because if you have have any questions, you should always be able to ask your breeder & if they are good, as mine is, they will be there for you.
You don't get that from a commercial breeder or a puppy farm.
As an aside, Boyd is named after the river that runs through our village.
Living with an Irish Wolfhound
Living with a giant breed isn't for everyone. Whilst the idea of sharing your life with these magnificent hounds may sound appealing, please research thoroughly before you commit. There are too many plus points to list, but with giant hounds, come giant responsibilities.
In these days of "get rich quick" as with other breeds, there are people who will see that there is a buck to be made by selling wolfhound puppies.
If, having researched, hopefully spoken to & even visited the homes of folk who have wolfhounds, you still think you can offer a home, then please make sure you purchase your puppy from someone who has a vested interest in the health of each & every litter they breed.
Both parents should be heart tested at the most 12 months prior to mating. Any breeder who produces a litter without doing so is reckless to say the least. Every decent person that produces a litter wants a healthy litter if they have the best interests of the breed in their heart. Don't be tempted to buy a puppy if this isn't the case. It's not worth it. They will probably be asking the same amount for a pup as someone who has invested in the breed, knows the pedigree lines & has bred to produce a healthy hound.
You should also ensure with an Irish Wolfhound that the puppy has been livershunt tested. All responsible breeders will have done this. Ask to see the tests results, don't just ask & if they say yes, done & fine, accept that. It can leave you devastated if your puppy dies or ££££'s out of pocket if you catch it in time & pay for the operation.
The code of conduct from the Irish Wolfhound Club in the UK states that all hounds should be heart tested & that puppies should be livershunt tested.
A good place to start your search is www.irishwolfhoundpuppies.co.uk. In addition to being able to put you in touch with members that only breed in accordance to the Irish Wolfhound Society & Irish Wolfhound Club, there is lots of useful information regarding the breed.
Please, please, please, insure your hound. Read the small print. Don't opt for the cheapest. Go for whole life cover. Even though our Riley is only 3 (please see update on our darling now departed Riley) came from breeders who are wonderful (both owner of sire & dam) both parents & Riley had all the recommended tests, he's not a well boy.
He was a blood donor & at one session, they noted an anomaly in his results. Cut a long story short, my boy has kidney disease. His medical bills were over £8,000 in 2015. His insurance limit was £7,000 per annum, so we still had to top up at the end of his policy year.