Meet Coco and Diva, our two 5-year-old West Highland White Terrier (Westies) ladies. They have been part of our family since they were 10 months old, when we bought them from a breeder in Southern Alberta. They are half sisters, through their Dad (who came originally from Ireland so we were told) and were born 10 days apart. It seems nobody wanted to buy these two as Coco is the runt of her litter and Diva was very timid around new people. We had only planned on buying one dog, but when we saw the two together we just couldn’t bear to separate them, so we bought them both.
It is extraordinary how so very different they are. Coco is a live wire, seemingly has ants in her pants, hasn’t gotten the concept of returning the ball when playing fetch, is very vocal and loves to watch TV. Seriously, this dog will sit and watch TV with or without you. If you pause a program or movie, she starts to get agitated; I think her whole world goes into pause. Her favourite shows are nature programs, where she becomes really animated and even growls at the animals on the screen. She is a little rebel (a bit like myself) and will try to get away with anything. The breeder had originally named her Kiko, but that just didn’t roll off the tongue easily, and after some thinking we opted for Coco.
Diva on the other hand is, as her name states, a true Diva. She is not interested in TV, and all she wants is for you to rub her tummy. She will place herself just right on your lap, turn onto her back and flop into the cradle of your arm before you even have a chance of doing anything about it. She loves to play fetch with the ball and will be the one to return it to you. She doesn’t like strangers, and when there is a crowd in the house she will go and find a quiet place to hide until the party is over. She is also the faster runner, despite the fact that she looks chunkier than her sister and loves to go for a swim (again, unlike her sister).
Westies are descendant from the Cairn and Scottish Terriers and were specifically bred to hunt out rats, foxes, badgers and other vermin. Their shoulders and hind legs are very strong, made for digging and dragging. They have a life expectancy from 12 to 15 years; and although they are fairly small dogs (around 15-22 lbs) they see themselves a big guard dogs. They were first bred in Scotland in the 1800’s, and depending who you talk to in Scotland the originator of the breed is either Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm and his kin of Poltalloch, in the Argyll region of Western Scotland or the 8th Duke of Argyll (Chieftan of Clan Campbell). Originally the breed was known as Poltalloch Terriers (after the name of Malcolm’s home), although they were also known as Roseneath Terriers (after the name of Argyll’s home), White Roseneath Terriers, and at the end of the 19th century, briefly as a white variety of the Scottish Terrier.
In fact, they are so similar to Cairn Terriers that we are just about able to discern our Westies’ barks from that of the neighbouring Cairn Terrier over the road.
I rarely get the opportunity to take great photos of Diva and Coco, as they never sit still long enough and usually come right up to my camera lens, making any portrait shot of them very difficult. This weekend we went out for a drive (see my post about the moose) and whilst my husband kept them engaged with the promise of a snack, I took my chance!
Which one is which I can hear you say. Well, Coco is the one that looks a little more like a fox (on the left) and Diva has the typical look of a Westie (on the right). Despite the fact that they have been with us for over 4 years, my husband still hasn’t gotten the hang of telling them apart. Aside from their facial differences, there are other clues: Coco is thinner than Diva and also has a floppy ear (the left one as you look at her) and I do try to fit them with different coloured collars, bandannas and coats. The only way my husband can tell them apart is by their coloured bandannas, which they recently lost (and which I am trying to find appropriate replacements for); so now he has to rely on their collars instead, which is a little harder as their white fur obscures them usually.
So, here they are: meet Coco and Diva (who would feature more often on this blog if they would only stand/sit still long enough!)