What It Is Like to Live with a Westie
If you love Westies, you know their personalities are just as cute and wild as they are. Interested in adding a West Highland White Terrier to your family? Look through this photo essay to see what a day with one might be like!
Note: Just as with humans, every Westie has his or her own strong personality! But, hopefully this gives you an example of one 🙂
Today’s photo essay follows Guinness on a Saturday. Guinness is a five-year-old full-bred West Highland White Terrier who was born at Strawberry River Westies in Arkansas. We took him home at six weeks old.
If I had to describe Guinness in three words, it would be: STUBBORN, CUDDLY and SOCIAL. I documented those characteristics with my DSLR and iPhone 6 Plus and I look forward to hearing about your Westies!
Note: You will see another, older Westie in this photo essay! That is Jameson, a Westie we adopted when Guinness was about ten months old.
Guinness, the funny guy that he is, likes to do one of two things early in the morning: dive under the covers up against my body or climb on my head to take my pillow. This morning, he opted for the latter. The green pillow on the right is actually his brother’s pillow. Yes, one of our Westies has his own pillow on the bed. People on both sides of the fence – sleeping with the dogs or crating them – have reasons they do it, and studies support both sides. We chose to cuddle with ours at night, but we do not sleep as soundly as we could.
Once Guinness has decided it is time to wake up, he demands to go downstairs. He does not care to sleep in (although you will see later that he sleeps ALL DAY, ALL OVER the place). His first step is to stretch on the door. See those scratch marks? He uses the wall to stretch his back. Infuriating and hilarious at the same time. He looks back to see if anyone is paying attention to him after he makes the nails-on-the-chalkboard sound. Sometimes we can get away with acting like we don’t hear him and can get a few more minutes of shut-eye. But if he wakes up his brother, it is game over.
Going potty is a whole thing. Run at the door (and sometimes run into it), hem-haw around outside, finally go down to take care of business, scan the neighborhood for nonsense and squirrels, then return inside soooooooooo sllllooooooooowwwwwly. I swear, Guinness takes his sweet-ass time going places.
Summer has been sweltering lately, so we try to squeeze a walk in early. Admittedly, we should walk more. (Guinness is sporting a gut and fast-growing nails.) “Walk” is one of those words that the boys immediately recognize; they run towards where their leash hangs and wait impatiently.
Jameson is great on walks, but Guinness is not always a smooth companion. He tends to stop every couple of minutes to pee on something, and by stop I mean tug and thrash against his leash. But eventually we get into a rhythm! When we pass other dogs, Guinness would love to play with them and/or bark at them, but the boys usually act right when I tell them, “Be good.” Guinness gets to SOCIALIZE at doggie day camp occasionally.
One thing you might find silly in this photo is that Guinness’s bowl is propped up. We found that he eats better this way. Who knows if it actually worked or if it was coincidence, but we have left the bowl raised up ever since. Guinness is also kind of a picky eater when it comes to dog food. And he does not bend easily. We have tried to get him used to his food, but he refuses to the point of making himself sick. STUBBORN.
His pickiness is a little embarrassing sometimes. There has been more than one occasion where we were out and about and someone offers the boys a treat. Instead of gracefully accepting, Guinness tends to take it, put it on the ground then walk away. Especially if the treat is high-quality, handmade, I am so ashamed! He knows what he likes, I suppose.
The last note on food. Guinness has very sensitive skin. His has seasonal allergies, and we buy expensive, grain-free food to help alleviate his itchy skin. Since every part of the world produces different allergens, we have to re-calibrate his medicine. This is not uncommon for Westies!
The last piece of our morning routine is saying goodbye. My husband and I have a ritual when we leave the house. As we walk out the door, we say, “Love you! Have a good day! See you tonight!” And then Guinness sleeps by the door for a bit (confirmed by DropCam footage).
See those scratch marks? Guinness tends to stretch here, too. And he scratches at the door if he is impatient about leaving or if he hears you unlocking the door to come home. Weirdo.
During the weekend, the boys love to sunbathe. We go out a few times a day. Guinness is bell trained, so we used to go out when he rang his bells. But now that the boys have regular bladders, we just go out periodically.
Our back privacy fence has a board with a hole in the bottom, and Guinness gets a better look at all of the happenings through it. His shoulders are too broad to sneak out, but his head looks hilarious poking through.
When other dogs walk by, both dogs bark. Westies love to bark at noises, animals, crying babies, etc. Good alert dogs; not so good security dogs unless you want Guinness to lick the intruder to death.
As you may have seen online, Westies love to hang out and sleep in weird places. They seem to be comfortable almost anywhere! (Although Guinness’s brother prefers the fluffiest, comfiest spot in the room.)
Guinness hanging out in the coffee table is my favorite sleeping spot. We bought this table hoping the boys would enjoy the empty spaces in the “crates,” and finally after five months Guinness took advantage of it!
Begging is a favorite activity during meal time. Sometimes Guinness even does his signature “sit pretty” pose, where he sits up on his flat bottom. Or he paws at your leg. Or both. That cute face thinks he can score some human food!
One of my favorite activities, though, is the CUDDLING. Guinness is so sweet and cuddly, especially around bedtime. If he doesn’t think he’s getting enough attention or that there is enough room to jump up beside you, he will paw at your leg. So demanding! Jameson is a sort-of cuddler, and I know of Westies who do not cuddle at all. I’m happy ours like to.
Like many dogs, Guinness loves to play fetch. But he is not very good at it… He will run after the toy, bring it to about three feet in front of you, and then guard it. One trick I have is a bait-and-switch. I tell him to “drop it,” then I throw another toy. As he runs after the second toy, I grab the first and we do it again.
At least twice a month, we give the boys a bath. Today, Guinness needed a face wash. “Bath” is another word they immediately recognize, causing them to run upstairs and into the tub. Then we blow-dry them and comb out their hair. Spa treatment, right?
Westies grow hair, so we get them groomed at least two times a year, usually for a summer and winter cut! People say they do not shed since they have hair, but that’s a lie. Especially if you have dark furniture, you see their white hair. Luckily, the hair is much less than breeds with fur, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.
The boys would get anxious as we pulled up to the groomers at PetsMart, so we switched to a mobile groomer. Talk about convenient! While one dog is getting dolled up, the other relaxes in the house. Yes, it is more expensive but it was worth it.
Before we go to bed, the boys go outside one more time and then eat their second dinner. About two years ago, Guinness kept getting an upset stomach. We started splitting dinner and serving halves three hours apart. It has seemed to work ever since.
If Guinness is especially tired at night, he will bring his toy, a woodchuck, downstairs and suck on it. Ever since he was a puppy, he has sucked on a bed or toy at nighttime. We now invest in Fluff and Tuff toys because they last for years.
When we are ready to hit the hay, we tell them, “Time to go night-night!” Again, a phrase they recognize. And they march up the stairs.
About three years ago, Guinness would wake us up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water. We began leaving a water dish in the room and he quit waking us up. Just like a little kid!
The last funny thing about Guinness is that he needs stairs to get into our bed. White dog can’t jump. He no longer wakes me up for a lift into bed. His brother has lost some spring in his old age, so we’ve been training him to use the stairs, too.
Guinness moves around all night, going from bed to ground to bed again. Meanwhile, his brother sleeps like a rock throughout the night.
Then, we wake up and start all over again!
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