Monday, May 9, 2011

Elaine Pritchard & Winnie

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I'm Elaine Pritchard and I live in Staffordshire, England. This is Winnie the Greyhound who joined our family in August 2010 when I had a change of lifestyle and set up my own freelance writing and marketing business from home. I also run a not-for-profit pet bereavement website - and I help Winnie with her own blog when she lets me.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are having a coffee break in our own garden - and celebrating finding a patch of grass which Win has not yet dug up in her daily quest to show me the racing form that made her a star at Sheffield greyhound track. As we never saw her race Win likes to re-enact her finest moments on the far smaller circuit of our back lawn.

What's brewing?

Skinny latte.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Not today. I've got lunch out later so I'm being good. Win's also helped me lose 20lbs in weight since January 2011 so I don't want to let her down. She's a strict diet and fitness coach.

Any treat for Winnie on this occasion?

She has sneaked a rawhide chew out into the garden to nibble on. I just need to make sure she doesn't try and bury it.

How did you and Winnie come together?

My friend Jane, who's a member of the same drama group as me, had adopted a number of greyhounds from Crossing Cottage - a Retired Greyhound Trust kennel in Nottinghamshire - and once I knew I was going to be finishing working long hours in an office it seemed a brilliant opportunity to adopt a greyhound. I know they love company. Also, my son's a bit nervous of dogs and I thought a gentle greyhound would be ideal to build up his confidence. We looked at the dogs available for adoption on the Crossing Cottage website and fell instantly in love with Winnie's picture and her story.

Would you tell us a bit about Lost and Fond?

My last job in the corporate world was as MD of an online obituaries website for people. We were often approached by people who wanted to add tributes for their pets but sadly it wasn't something we could let them do and the company I worked for wasn't interested in diversifying into pet memorials - so it was always something I felt I'd like to do. I also thought there was an opportunity to raise money through the website for pet charities and publicise important pet projects. People can create a free online memorial on Lost & Fond for any pet they have loved and lost either recently or years ago. If they're not confident with technology I'll do it for them.

How did Winnie get her name? Does she have any aliases?

Winnie's name comes from her old racing name - which was Heads You Win. Her many and varied nicknames include "Win", "Win-Win" and "Winnebago"

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Cats just ahead of squirrels. Win tends to do a noisy vertical take-off if she sees either of those creatures on our daily walks and if she ever got off her lead I think there'd be bloodshed. Postmen, ducks and small dogs are all safe from Win though.

Tennis ball, Frisbee, squeaky-toy...?

Squeaky toys, especially if they are cuddly, are Win's toy of choice. She adores them and looks after them very gently. She's not too interested in balls.

Where is Winnie's favorite place to go for a walk?

Brook Hollows in Rolleston-on-Dove - the next village to the one where we live - is Win's favourite local walk. But she jumps (literally) at any chance to go out in the car for a walk a bit further afield. We are lucky to live in a beautiful part of England where there is some stunning countryside.

Who is Winnie's best pet-pal?

The Man Of The House would tell you it's him. I think it's me, of course. Win's not that keen on other dogs because of some past experiences in a re-homing that didn't work out (not her fault) and she needed a home where she could be the only dog. She has some wonderful virtual best pals though thanks to the great world of pet blogging.

If Winnie could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I think Winnie would love it if the whole family - me, husband Bill, daughter Caitlin (who graduates from Coventry University this year) and son Tom - would stay together in one room all day leaving only to take her for a couple of walks. She loves it when we're all together.

What is Winnie's best quality?

She loves everyone. I think she's taught me some wonderful life lessons in the last nine months. I call them the three L's: loving, loyalty and living-in-the-moment. I look at Winnie revelling in a good sniff on a walk, or 'roaching' - lying on her back legs in the air - and I think "She's got it right. Live in the moment, enjoy the changing seasons and the world of nature and don't worry. Just be happy".

What is Winnie's proudest moment?

I was really proud of Win when she did her first meet-and-greet with Bill outside the Spring Fair that my friend Alyson and I organised a few weeks ago for the Retired Greyhound Trust. I knew she'd be great with people and show them what great pets greyhounds make, but I thought she might not like the other greyhounds that were coming along to help. She wasn't keen at first and grumbled a bit but after a while she decided to let them socialise with her and that was a big deal for her. She's also a great ambassador for greyhounds when we're out and about generally and a lot of people we've met are now considering a retired racing greyhound as a pet - which is fabulous.

Her most embarrassing?

That has to be her windy digestive system. When we're all gathered in the living room, and she's at her most relaxed, you can hear gentle little "parps" followed by a not so gentle waft of noxious fumes. I think many dog owners will identify with that little habit!!

Visit the Lost and Fond website and Winnie's Dog Blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue