Nearly a decade ago my dear friend Phylly Clarke adopted a greyhound, the beautiful Leah from Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare. She quickly discovered that while there are thousands of dog coats on the market, very few are designed for the skinny deep-chested shapes of our sighthounds. So, being a very clever and skilful person, she made Leah the most beautiful fleece coat to her own design. And everyone who saw it said “Wow!”
Fast forward a number of years and Phylly offers her hand-made hound coats through GreytCoats, with a donation to Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare for every coat she sells. She also offers bespoke Harris tweed coats for greyhounds and sighthounds, every one is made to your hound’s exact measurements, every one is a work or art, and they are probably the most sought-after item of hound attire on the market.
She made one of these coats as a special gift for my greyhound, the late and greatly-missed Jasmine: it was, quite simply, the most beautiful thing my beautiful girl ever wore. I have long hankered after one of these coats for my lurcher Lulu but as a rescue she is a late developer and has still been growing in the first years we’ve spent together. Then along came our second lurcher Polly and we decided it was time…
Tweed choices were considered; samples were ordered and tried against the dogs; decisions were made, then unmade; some tweed was ordered, and slowly the final choices emerged. Then there was the question of lining, Polly was an easy choice with a coordinating lining of soft camel fleece, picking out the pale biscuit stripe in her tweed. Lulu was, as usual, more difficult. Being sensible I should have gone with a pale fleece colour which would disguise Lulu’s occasional but prolific moulting. But somehow I walked out of Fabric Land with a length of wine-coloured velvet in my bag and a silly smile on my face. The dogs were measured all over and in places they’ve never been measured before. Then it was all in the hands of the maestro and we waited with much excitement to see the results.
When they arrived, we went to Oxshott Woods to do some photographs. It seemed somehow right. Years ago I had photographed the lovely Leah there, modelling one of GreytCoat’s very first tweed coats (and this is still one of my favourite photographs ever). Soon after I photographed Jasmine there, wearing her own special GreytCoats tweed. And now it is the turn of our two young lurchers.
These coats will outlast our beloved dogs. There is something both comforting and immeasurably sad in that thought. And after our dogs are gone they will become a precious legacy, steeped in the love that made them and our love for those who wore them. The late Leah’s tweed is currently on loan to another greyhound who is struggling with ongoing problems from an injury. And the buttons from Jasmine’s coat are now gracing Lindy’s new tweed.