Kimberly Petts shares how a canine model and show dog set aside her career to welcome a dozen pups
Photos by Kimberly Petts
I’ve heard the expression “worse than herding cats” before, but until I walked into Kimberly Petts’s Pound Ridge home and tried to get a photo of her with 12 wriggly, excited, four-week-old puppies, I never realized how true those words could be.
It starts with Twiglet, a German short hair pointer mom, and of course must include Kipling, the dad, but first I want to tell you a little of Kimberly. She has always been an animal person—with cats, chickens, and dogs being part of life while raising three daughters with her husband, David. When she adopted her first GSP, Branston, the deal of ownership was that he be able to be shown. Working out the cost of a handler, the British transplant realized it was a “bloody fortune” and agreed with the breeder to learn to do it herself. She went to night class in Norwalk to learn.
Enter now, the star of our story: Twiglet, or “Twiggy,” as she is affectionately known. Kimberly quickly became taken with Twiggy and Branston’s antics together, and her passion for photography took on a new bent. She began photographing the pair and posting the images on Instagram. “Branston and Twiglet” became an instant sensation, with over 16,000 followers, and they received numerous offers for modeling gigs.
Twiggy’s formal name is “AM BGCh/Can Ch Cheza’s Stardust” (initials standing for American Bronze Grand Champion and Canadian Champion). Rising to the top as a show dog in record time, she has won numerous awards. Kimberly and Twiggy went on to participate at Westminster, which was daunting at first, until Kimberly saw how much fun it was. “I just had the best time,” she recalls. They didn’t win—nor did Kimberly expect to, but the following year, they had more confidence. Twiggy was awarded Select Bitch, which was “huge,” as the duo was up against long-time professional handlers and dogs owned by consortiums of investors. From only one weekend showing in Canada, Twiggy took a Sporting Group One and went on to compete in Best in Show.
Now, on to the supporting role: Kipling, the dad. Kipling’s formal name is: Champion Jan’Z Tales of a Magic Man JH (Junior Hunter) and NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association), Natural Ability Prize 3. He is a hunter as well as a champion show dog. Kipling can also be described as “similar to a teenager,” with the uncanny ability to create chaos that only teenage boys do so well, as you will see.
Last October, Kimberly went to South Africa, and left her eldest daughter Frankie, 22, in charge. She left explicit instructions to keep one dog crated at a time, as Twiggy was in heat. “I told them, if you don’t, she will get pregnant; they will shag.” Apparently, Frankie underestimated the intense desires of a young male stud and a bitch in heat, and came home to find that Kipling had crashed through a chair, a crate, and three gates to get to Twiggy.
When Kimberly returned from holiday, she didn’t know about Twiglet’s condition right away. However, it didn’t take long before she noticed that “Twiglet was beginning to swell, or should I say bloom, and I realized that life was never going to be the same again.”
“Two days before she was due, I went to the vet to find out how many puppies there were. I was thinking six might be nice.” When they looked at the x-ray, she was “gobsmacked” to see 12 heads. Three days later, Kimberly looked over at Twiggy and saw her stomach rippling. At 6 pm, she said to David “I think it’s going to happen!” Sure enough, at 6:25 pm, the first pup was born. “It was textbook perfect—and then they kept coming.”
The British Invasion arrived: Sting, Pixie, Lennon, Daltrey, Lulu, Jagger, Collins, Dusty, Kiki, Lewis, Freddie, and Stone. Kimberly and Twiggy have since become super-moms, often staying up all night looking after the pups.
The future for everyone? Well, Twiggy is going to move on to Agility. Kipling will continue to be shown. Kimberly will continue to handle—she is going to Westminster this year to handle another dog. As for the adorable dozen? Kimberly said she had the “best” people contacting her for adoption and has been able to hand pick their new homes: a horse farm in Alabama, a Facebook friend in Cincinnati, a handler in Massachusetts, and a retired woman in Connecticut who lives on a beach, to name a few.
Asked, “Are you going to keep one?” She replies, “No comment,” with a wink and a giggle.