Whitman is smart, very smart.
Not surprising since his Owners are both University-educated and watch very little television before 9 pm in the evening - and then only serious documentaries.
They didn’t exactly read to Whitman as a puppy, but they often read to each other, frequently articles from the better kind of newspaper - and Whitman always listens carefully.
They both studied English & American Literature for their degrees (First Class, of course) and it was their shared love for the poems of Walt Whitman that first brought them together.
So when a friend had a litter of Springer Spaniel puppies looking for homes, they already had a name in mind.
To this day, Whitman remains grateful that they didn’t name him ‘Walt.’
Pippa is a Boxer through and through: enthusiastic, exuberant, playful and loyal to a fault.
She’s also a bit of a feminist and often stretches Whitman’s patience when he generalises about ‘Dogs.’
And quite rightly so.
All Dogs love toys but Pippa’s love frequently extends to other Dogs’ toys and she is self-appointed Toy Warden in the local park, her duties generally consisting of confiscating balls and frisbees from smaller dogs.
Which pretty much means all Dogs since Pippa is quite large for her sex.
Anton’s female Owner is French and he remains grateful that she wasn’t Italian, since he would not have liked ‘Antonio’ at all.
And he has been known to bite Dogs who try calling him ‘Tony.’
Anton is a Beagle, so he often goes for very long walks without his Owner (returning at mealtimes, of course.)
This exasperates his Owner, but it is sometimes difficult for a Dog to explain to an Owner that he occasionally prefers solitude.
Plus there’s a greater chance of catching rabbits when there are no Owners nearby talking too loudly. Or gesticulating in Italian.
Butch is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with a sensitive side.
So it’s hardly surprising that he constantly regrets the name his Owners chose for him.
Had the choice been left to him he would have preferred ‘Julian’ but his male Owner wasn’t the kind of man to feel comfortable shouting ‘Julian!’ across the local park.
But Butch has nevertheless sublimated this early disappointment into a wry sense of humour.
He experienced tragedy at an early age when he discovered he was sharing the house with a cat.
Malcolm’s Owners are very Old School and have bequeathed him a sense of gravitas beyond his years, fortunately seasoned with a keen observational wit.
As a breed, Red Setters – also known as Irish setters from the Gaelic ‘sotar rua’ (which counter-intuitively means Red Setter) – are known for getting along well with other Dogs and small children.
Like his Owners, Malcolm enjoys nothing better than a good documentary and will often peruse the Daily Telegraph which his Owners thoughtfully place beneath his drinking bowl.
Obi, named after the late Sir Alec Guinness, is easier to understand were you to meet his Owners.
They are members of that particular tribe named Early-Adopters and their home is an Aladdin’s Cave of gadgetry, crowned by a 52-inch television.
Obi’s male Owner is addicted to sci-fi, action movies and horror movies and has never censored his young Boxer's viewing.
So Obi’s world-view has always been larger than life from a very young age.
When taken for walks, he is frequently puzzled by the absence of brain-sucking aliens, the rattle of machine gun fire and the low whine of Stealth bombers.
But he lives in hope.