It’s a dog’s life in lockdown… or is it? …
High-end hounds and cossetted canines are having to learn new tricks in this pesky lockdown. Not only are the legs being walked off them on a daily basis but home, usually partially deserted at given times, is a now constant whirl of activity. There are endless Zooms, round-the-clock supervision and no sneaky snoozing in the master suite.
Ever since her bulldog bit a cavapoo in the first lockdown last spring, Romy Byrne has been forced to bypass her local green space and take to the streets, Buster in tow. She doesn’t think it’s fair that the rather cliquey regulars in the park have not given him a second chance. She apologised profusely and made it widely known that the offender was getting top-up training, but all she got back in return was a demand she keep the bastard on a leash. She judges UCD to fall (just) within her 5km and it has been a life-saver: it’s got open spaces, areas of woodland, and the walkers are lovely here.
The truth is that Buster’s bust-up is not an isolated incident these days. The life of lockdown dogs is harder than it seems. Their owners’ tempers are frayed. No one is going to the office or school or gym or golf or even for a coffee; teenagers are acting out, mothers haven’t a second to themselves and men, having taken possession of prime real estate at home to WFH, have extended their dominion to rule every kitchen.
How are dogs – and their owners faring? We invited owners to share, and want you to share too … tag @theglossmag in your pictures and videos on Instagram and use the hashtag #GlossyDogs.
Miriam Peters and Bubbles, Chico, Kola Bear and Billy
“For my rescues, life is better in lockdown. We are all home so much and everyone feels closer to the dogs. It’s comical, they trail around after me: I move, they move – like a Mexican wave! I believe the country’s attitude to work has changed incredibly with lockdown – and that’s got to be a positive for pets. Now, working people can own a dog, keep it company during the day and walk it at lunchtime; its a win-win as we get exercise and they get more walks. Offices have become dog friendly, with a lot of companies – Google being one – allowing workers to bring their dogs to work and this will become more popular in the future in big and small companies.”
Miriam has long been an advocate of dog rescue and rehomes as many dogs as she can, working with a nationwide network of volunteers. During the first lockdown when so many families decided to get a dog, she anticipated the downsides: “Getting a dog is not the solution to boredom. For those parents who think “oh a dog will entertain everybody”, they really need to consider the work that goes into raising and training a dog, and loving it so it matures into a naturally happy family pet.” There is a dark side to this demand for dogs: the criminal activity that is dog farms, dog theft and selling. “It is heartbreaking to see the state of some dogs we rescue.” Miriam welcomes a new breed of dog owner: Not the acquirer of the designer dog, but those dog owners in their thirties and forties who are much more open to integrating a dog’s needs into their own lifestyle. “These young, fitness-mad professionals walk their dogs early – long walks, even a 5k run before breakfast – then work a few hours before another outing at lunchtime. Their lurcher or whippet gets to sleep all afternoon before the evening run – the perfect life for an active dog.”
Miriam applauds the hotels and restaurants whose premises are open to dogs. “Mine love to come with us to get a coffee from The Orange Goat in Ballsbridge, or from Box Burger in Bray. It’s so civilising and positive for families to be able to be out and about. When it’s possible to support our local businesses again in person, it will be great to have our dogs with us too.” @minniepetersdesign_
Louise Kennedy and Paddy The Schnauzer
“Is there anything more exciting to watch than a dog who knows he’s about to go for a walk? In my case, Paddy the Schnauzer just needs a little hint for helicopter mode to kick in. Quicker than you can say “walkies?”, his little tail starts spinning, he twirls in full circles as I try to attach his lead before lurching out the front door of our Merrion Square house, all the time trying to carry one of his favourite fluffy toys. On the other side of the street, lies his Shangri La, my ‘front garden”, also known as the park!
“Once there, Paddy takes the lead as we stop and start and sniff every pillar and post, every bush, and, embarrassingly, the rear end of any four-legged encounters we have on the way. I was told that these morning sniffs are the equivalent of humans reading newspapers, so I joke to myself that Merrion Square is his library where he gets to read The Gloss, the Financial Times, and other interesting journals from all over the world.
“Never has a dog been so loved and admired as a result of the pandemic. He comes to my office every day, features heavily on our social media and he sits in on all my Zoom calls. I have no choice but to include him as he is mostly cushioned up behind my back. It is not very comfortable for me, but I couldn’t possibly disturb him. As a result, he now gets his own emails and post from clients overseas, and occasionally even a treat arrives addressed to him personally as Paddy Paws Esquire.
“This year, exercise and training have been top of Paddy’s agenda. His vet, Mike Sadlier, has confirmed he has lost some Covid pounds. He certainly needs to keep an eye on his figure as he is our junior house model, starring in two campaigns last year as well as on our Christmas card, designed by the very talented Irish illustrator, Becky Donnelly.
“Not that he’s the worst behaved dog in Dublin, but Paddy’s barking needs to be dialled down. Every morning his Aunty Jessie collects him for his big daily training and exercises, and she documents his marathon sessions on her stories.
“By dinner time, he has just about enough energy to eat his dinner. When he is super-tired, I have to hand-feed him. Then, at the end of the night, he scratches the carpet and lunges backwards – the cue for me to put him to bed. A few baby whimpers later, I know he’s asleep, playing with his dreamy friends and he is away with the birds!” @louisekennedyofficial
Sophie Flynn-Rogers and Riley the Cairn Terrier
“Riley is nearly eleven, so many, many #adogwalkaday (the hashtag I started on Instagram) have we done. About 40m human steps and his canine equivalent. I would be lost without our walks and without Riley, a cairn terrier, the apple of my eye. I didn’t get his predecessor in a break-up. Having gotten so used to having that dog, Ratzo, around I knew I couldn’t be without one. I paid €120 to a lovely family in The Burren for him at ten puppy weeks. To this day the best money I have spent. And as his mum Muffin went to 18 – an investment that no hedge fund’s yield could match. We had dogs as kids – in the country – Bowie a collie cross and springers Hollie, Prince and Flossie – but in the city it’s a little more of a disciplined commitment. There are no fields to roam but we are so lucky to live very close to the sea for #adogswimaday when not freezing, and have plenty of parks, the canal, and the red-bricked streets of the those leafy ‘burbs’.
“Before Covid, I had always worked from home. The hour-long early, early morning walk, quick round-the-block at lunch and evening stroll kept my working day on track and Riley and me well exercised. I saw no reason to change that routine during the pandemic. In fact never more so were the walks so important, adding only listening to books with BorrowBox or Audible, with one ear free to listen out for the dog.
We have certain preferred routes – to, from and all around Herbert Park in Dublin 4, (where Riley dutifully collects rogue tennis balls) and along the Dodder. But Riley’s favourite is Merrion Square – sniff city. There he has befriended three Taoiseachs, photobombed PR photocalls and wedding snaps, and with a perfected head tilt, charmed lunch-breaking workers into donating a little bit of what they’re having while I’m not looking. After a few loops of the park and sniff duty complete, Riley will lead me home via Government Buildings – there’s a very dog-friendly Garda sometimes on duty who has chocolate. Dogs never forget so hope springs eternal with Riley. If not that day, maybe the next. A good example to live by.
“Riley knows “Will we get a coffee?” means the walk’s nearly over. Yet the routine continues when we get home. If it rained, we play “Will I dry you?” He sits on the hall mat waiting, tail thumping out an excited drum roll, for the towel tussle. Then un-burritos himself from the towel on the sofa. Duly dried, he tears off to fetch “watering can” literally from where he last had it and presents it to me in the vicinity of the treat jar. With a tennis ball, I jam in two little treats (I still weigh his food daily) into this old, battered baby watering can, and set it on the stairs. He races to get it, where follows ten minutes of utter mayhem. Quiet means he has got the ball out, got the treats and will be asleep until lunchtime.
“The vet’s surgery has Kipling’s warning in plain view: “Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware, of giving your heart to a dog to tear”. What dogs give us in their all-too-short time in our lives is, as my mother rightly told me, unconditional love. They teach us patience – daily, show us how life is better lived not holding a grudge and give us no excuse not to get out in the sunshine 365 days a year. When you have a dog you realise there are very few days that you can’t go for a walk. The sun always shines, like a buried bone, a dog will help you find it.
“I started posting pictures of Riley with #adogwalkaday when Instagram became a thing. I thought he’d get himself a contract with some brand and our fortunes be made. But #adogwalkaday is something no money could buy: I know that Riley is a happy, friendly, well-exercised dog and the bonus is how genuine human friendships have come from the walks. Existing friendships deepened and new ones developed with strangers on the same dogwalk beat. Over time, some have become more than nodding acquaintances and lenders of poo-bags. Much like the curative power of a good cup of tea, a delicious gin and tonic, all the chats, listening, support, giggles and problems-of-the-world solving discussions have buoyed us all up. This week last year, my gorgeous friend Grainne Ahern died from cancer. Ridiculously prematurely and cruelly quickly. What I would give to be driving over to meet her and her Wesley for #adogwalkaday with my Riley. I would be really happy if people might post their #adogwalkaday in memory of those we can no longer meet for a good stomp, and donate to Our Lady’s Hospice Harold’s Cross. Or, in immeasurable gratitude to our dogs, donate to their favourite animal charity.” @sfr19203
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