Traveling Dog Lady: Ireland is lovely, but where are the dogs?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ireland is lovely, but where are the dogs?

I'm back from ten days in Ireland and England, and very happy to be home.  I missed my dogs and cats so much.

Charlie watching me eat on my first night home

Cali happy to have me back, basking in the morning sun


Ireland is lovely.  No, it's more than lovely, it's out-and-out gorgeous, stunning and breathtaking.  The people are friendly, fun-loving, kind and attractive.  But where are all the dogs?

We took a day trip through the countryside to the farming community of Armagh, and I looked and looked and looked, and didn't see one dog.  We even visited friends way, way out in the country.  For sure we'd see a dog, right?  At one point, someone said two dogs were cutting through the yard.  I leapt out of my chair, but they disappeared behind a hedgerow before I could see them.  I felt like a lost soul asking, "Did you say there were two dogs?  Where?!"  I'm sure these people thought I was nuts.

There were plenty of sheep, but where's the iconic, stereotypical collie that might be herding them?  Absent.

Sheep in a field in the Irish countryside, on our way to Northern Ireland


We all know the story of poor Lennox and his family from Belfast -- they were ordered to give up Lennox because of his resemblance to a bully breed.  The story went worldwide, and millions of people were up in arms about Lennox, signing petitions and so forth.  Ok, they were from Belfast, since we were going to Belfast the next day, I figured for sure...  Again, no dogs.

One of the famous political murals in Belfast, depicting "The Troubles"

Well, I stand corrected, we saw three dogs in Ulster when we stopped at the American Folk Museum on our way back from Belfast. The people who had a border collie attached to the baby stroller must have thought me insane as I kept smiling and gawking at the lovely creature, trying to take a picture of it (I gave up and didn't even ask).  The man with the Golden Retriever service dog must have been equally skeeved at my behavior towards his faithful companion as I grinned from ear-to-ear but did not approach since he was a service animal.  The little gray dog that I saw immediately upon disembarking from the bus couldn't wait to hop into his owner's car to gain a safe distance from the smiling American lady.  I couldn't help myself, it had been days since I'd seen a live canine!  We saw sheep, we saw burros, but only those three dogs.

Burros in Ulster

England wasn't much different, although I have been there umpteen times, and spent most of my time in the city, I know for a fact that dogs are not absent from England... but they were this time.  Perhaps it was all that rain.  After all, the Queen herself is often seen with her beautiful corgis in tow.

Sheep in Stonehenge (and traffic)



I know the complete opposite is going to happen on my next trip, which will take me to Puerto Rico. I'm prepared for it to be quite like Tobago, with too many stray, un-neutered dogs running loose. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised.  Stay tuned.

Stray dog in Tobago