Life with 20+ ETTs: Pat & Lionel’s story

Pat & Lionel Waterhouse

Pat & Lionel Waterhouse

Twowayshouse & Randallcarr

Pat & Lionel have owned, rescued and bred many English Toy Terriers over the past 20 years. They’ve welcomed countless newcomers into the breed and are well-known for being generous with their time, giving support and advice to anyone who needs it.

Much loved custodians of our favourite breed, here’s a peek into their life living with a pack of ETTs!

Tell us a bit about yourselves

“We are a retired couple who have had dogs of different shapes, sizes and breeds all our lives. We share a love of the outdoors and of nature and we are lucky enough to own, as well as our home in Chester, a piece of forestry land in Northumberland where we are able to spend a great deal of our time (with our dogs of course) doing conservation work; tree planting, reinstating wild flowers and generally working with all things wild and wonderful!”

Tell us something that people might be surprised to know about you

“What? Apart from the fact that we didn’t watch game of thrones? ? Lionel is an Engineer by profession, hence his ability to problem solve. I was a nurse so not in the slightest way technical.
We, between us, have an ability to face most of life’s challenges by both seeing things from a totally different perspective!”

How many ETTs do you live with?


“At the last count there were over twenty! Yet they still have the ability to sleep on top of me on one sofa. As there are two of us and two sofas there’s always room for another one.”

Tell us a bit about them.

“Some are ones we’ve bred, some are ones we’ve bought to increase our gene pool and others are ones we’ve taken in as rehomes. However they came to us, they are all loved dearly. They are aged between a few months of age up to 15 and a half!

They’re all the same yet all different. They have different expressions, different sounding barks are different sizes. They react differently to a given situation. Some are outgoing, some very shy. Like people they may look similar but they all have different characters.”

Do any of them have any particular funny habits or quirks? 

“There are so many different stories, so many different characters.
Some love nothing more than to stay under the duvet all day, especially if there’s the slightest danger that one drop of rain could fall. Some are awake and raring to go far too early in the morning!
They all love raw fruit and veg. I usually choose a load for them in the afternoon and as soon as the chopping knife comes out the hullabaloo starts! Every one of them jump up and down, bark their heads of and get thoroughly over excited! Once they see that I’ve finished chopping then silence prevails and they all find a favourite spot to eat their share. There is far more excitement over a piece of swede or a segment of Orange than over the tastiest of sausages!
Some love going in the vehicles. In fact if lionel goes to go to a vehicle he is left with no choice but to take Bosun and Bojo with him. Given the chance they will spend hours sat in there.
Usually they get a few minutes then are brought back, but in their eyes they’ve had their big adventure for the day. Others don’t desire to go in the vehicles and to them the same thing would be considered a punishment.”

Tell us your funniest story about your etts.


“Now that’s a hard one. They make us laugh every day with their antics. One story that does spring to mind is something that happened years ago and could have ended in tragedy was when we were caravanning near Whitby.

We were walking them off lead in a securely fenced field. Now when I say securely fenced, I am talking about for normal dogs, not a determined Ett who can get through the eye of the proverbial needle!

We were just finishing our walk and putting leads back on them all when Monty, who was about twelve months old, squeezed himself through the deer fencing into a field full of cattle.

Hearts in mouths we called him expecting him to get trampled at any minute. He turned his deaf ears on. He then lowered onto his belly, sheep dog fashion, rounded up the entire field of cattle and took them down to the farm.

By this time he was a mere dot on the landscape and we were waiting for the bang of the farmers gun. To say we felt sick is an understatement.

To our amazement, we saw the little dot becoming larger… Monty was coming back. He arrived back at the fence, which of course he could no longer get through so he said, so pleased with himself.

His tail wagging and his expression saying did you see how clever I was? Needless to say, we never did that walk again! We can laugh about it now but it’s left me with a total mistrust of all but the most secure fencing!

That evening another caravaner parked near to the field said to Lionel “You wouldn’t believe how clever that Farmers little cattle dog is, it’s a dog bit like yours, he sent it up on its own to bring all the cattle out of the field and down to the farm and it did the job in no time at all.”

What does your typical day with the dogs look like?

“A typical day? Is their such a thing? Not with a pack like ours.
We’re usually up soon after six in the morning when the early birds want to go out. They then have breakfast. After we’ve all eaten we try to sit down for a couple of hours with them all on our laps.
After this then it’s walk time. This tires the older ones so they spend a lot of the day sleeping whilst the others get into their usual mischief.
Whatever we’re doing, they help us. They’re very fond of planting and digging. Rarely where we’d have chosen to have a deep hole… but I’m sure their idea was better than ours.
We’re outnumbered anyway so who cares?
They do like to do potting up indoors. They seem to think if we’re playing with plant pots then at least that should happen away from any inclement weather.
Tea time is about three o’clock although some prefer to eat later.
We aim to, although don’t always succeed to sit down again with them all at about six .
This is supposed to be our relaxing time of day although they sometimes have a different opinion and think it’s loopy time.
One thing they all agree on without dissent is that bedtime is before nine. At half eight they start to pather, so all go out and then the putting to bed starts.
Some sleep in boxes, some stay loose, they all have their own preferences and stick to them. Heaven help anyone who dares to attempt to go in the wrong box or the wrong bed!
Lights are out at nine but I am allowed to have a reading light on to read my book! There is a huge sigh of relief once I turn it out though.”

How do you keep an eye on them all and keep everyone out of trouble?

“They all are loose in the house or outside with us. On the very rare occasions that we both have to go out together then some come with us and the rest are put in their bedtime crates for their own safety apart from a few oldies who are left loose to sleep on the sofa.
When you have a pack of dogs you get to know them very well and can sense any trouble brewing. In the main they get on extremely well together but as in any large family we do get occasional spats. These are most likely to occur when a treat is discovered by more than one of them and the argument ensues as to who gets it. The answer to this one is simple – none of them do! It is taken away from them all!
The other trigger point is, as would be expected, bitches in season. Any that are not to be used in the breeding programme are spayed /castrated. This just leaves the entire boys and the in season bitches. They have to be crated. We do this by crating all boys for about two hours then crating the girls.
With constantly swapping them around and giving treats to the crated ones this is manageable but I must confess it isn’t easy!” 

What are your favourite and least favourite ETT quirks?

“So many lovable traits… They’re so funny, intelligent, affectionate, playful.. The list is endless.

Least favourite.. the barking. Some hardly bark at all but the others more than make up for them! Their hearing is so acute that they hear the doorbell ring before it is touched. They hear the telephone before it rings, the hear an aeroplane overhead before it leaves the runway … you get the drift?”


What’s your proudest moment in ETT ownership?

“The joy of having such wonderful dogs to share life with. It would be impossible to pick out a special moment.”

How / when did you become interested in ETTs?

“Way back in the 70s, when walking our Dobermanns, we regularly met a gentleman with five of these delightful miniature versions of our beloved dogs (when I say miniature, I mean merely miniature in stature, most certainly not in personality!).

To see the bemused expressions on our dogs faces as these tiny dogs outran them and ducked and dived around them was absolutely hilarious.

The gentleman told us many stories about the breed and much of their history. He was, at that time, very concerned about talk of the introduction of the Toy Manchester Terrier to increase the gene pool. As we know, this has now become acceptable.”


How did Twowayshouse come into being? And how did you pick the name?


“Twowayshouse was never our first choice for a kennel name. As anyone who has applied for a kennel name knows, in those days by post, the Kennel Club seems to have a weird and wonderful way of granting them.

Our first choice was Deva, the Roman name for Chester. This was rejected as were all names with the Deva included in them as being a frequently used pet name. Still don’t understand the logic of that one.

Many other names were tried and rejected. Our house had two front doors as it was originally two houses, so we submitted Twowayshouse and it was finally accepted!”

Tell us about your experience with breeding dogs


“Having bred other breeds during my life, my first experience of whelping was when I was about 12 years of age and the bitch was a Corgi named Bunty.

I’ve had a fair amount of experience but I have to confess that even now I am always apprehensive. No two whelpings are ever the same, not even with the same bitch – I’m not sure if google becomes our friend or our enemy…

There are certainly new ideas and products available all the time that can aid with a difficult birth but if we’re not careful it can also make us forget that birthing should be a natural process and we should merely be there to give reassurance and comfort to a bitch with an eye out for any possible problems for mum or pups.”

If you could give your younger self a piece of ETT advice what would it be?


“Get into the breed earlier.”

What advice would you give to someone thinking of homing an ETT for the first time?

“Do your research. Try to meet someone with an ETT either at Discover Dogs or a dog show. Join the online community on social media and get talking to breeders.”

What advice would you give to someone considering breeding ETTs for the first time?


“Firstly, have you got health tested parents? Are they both of the right temperament? Are they free from hereditary problems? Do you have people wanting pups? Do you have the money behind you to pay for a caesarian section should it be needed?

Buy The Book of the Bitch by J M Evans & Kay White, read it, ask yourself if you have the time to devote yourself to looking after pups for at least 8 weeks.”

Are you involved with any other causes/charities?

“I’m a member of the SAMPA , (stolen and missing pets alliance) and I also actively support and campaign for compulsory scanning for pets.

Hundreds of dogs are lost/stolen every year and many never are ever found. Work to try to improve this situation is both rewarding when it’s successful but heartbreaking when it’s not. There is so much more work to be done.

What are your thoughts on the vulnerable status of the breed? What would you like to see for the breed in the future?

“Whilst I’d never wish to see this wonderful breed become “a must have dog“ and become too popular, I do worry that for so many years the numbers of pups registered has stayed around 100 pups per year.

I’d like to see this number increase to ensure the safety of this vulnerable breed and also to increase the gene pool.”

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