No one likes a sleep-in on a Saturday like Merlin. Today I’m wondering if he’s going to show up in the park at all. But he and his human have been wondering Clissold's greens for quite sometime before we meet up.
The warm weekend’s silence is interrupted by wiggling tails, crazy hugs and mad running. For a bit. The independent whippet gets bored, decides to sniff around and play with his newly found favourite toy, the stick, alone. He later parades it around nearby dogs to engage in a chase and even swaps it for a deflated football. In the summer “we always keep a fiver in our pockets” says Cordelia, “just in case he steals some poor kid’s ball and punctures it”.
Merlin's Super Power
We make our way around the park and Merlin tries to use his super power of remembering exactly where that smelly, piece of long dead rat carcass is buried so he could treat himself to a little before-breakfast titbit. It’s not exactly poached chicken fillet – his favourite – but it’ll do.
Why a Whippet?
Back home, Cordelia gives him a quick wipe whilst Patrick sets of to get a newspaper. The art dealer couple living in Stoke Newington wanted to get a whippet because of the breed’s active nature, soft, short coat and calm and gentle demeanour. They say the whippets have two speeds, 35mph in the park and 0mph on the couch. Patrick talks about how beautiful it is to see them run at their fastest and how he used to watch greyhounds race. “We also wanted to get a good sleeper” he says, and Merlin fits the bill perfectly. So much so that the cheeky boy will sometimes even pretend to be asleep to be left alone. “He can be a little aloof” adds Cordelia, “which is great, because we can take them to our gallery with us. Clients come in and he won’t be all over them” she continues.
Why the name Merlin?
Merlin is a wizard. Not only has he mastered the art of “rapid deconstruction of toys” as Patrick puts it, I also observe him performing some very different kind of wizardry – serious mentalism. With nothing more, but a profound stare, he seduces nearby humans to give him massages on demand, share their bacon with him, prepare his bed and of-course leave him alone, when he’s had enough.
I keep snapping away while we play the newspaper pub quiz. Merlin sits right next to Cordelia and Patric hoping for some more bacon or some chicken fillets (hard to tell which). We talk about their favourite walks through Hampstead Heath starting at Primrose hill and ending with a brunch in Kenwood and about how they’ve picked him from a litter in Kent.
It’s only been two years, but he’s flooded their hearts with love – a strange, intimate bond that is “a mixture of friendship, parental affection and caring”. It is time for me to leave this beautiful creature to dream and rest on the gentle ray of sun in their kitchen and his humans to enjoy the view.
Merlin wears a collar by Dogsnug