The main focus of my blog is guide dogs, so I obviously write about my own dog a lot. Now I want to hear your own stories about your canine companions. Every dog has a story, whether it is a guide/assistance dog, family pet, a mutt you know or neighbourhood stray. Write their bio, tell me about them: Name, breed, characteristics, bad habits, funny stories, whatever you want.
OJ wasn’t the first dog to come to live in our house in Donegal. There were many dogs before him, but as you will read, none were as clever. My dad brought home a puppy he found when I was about three or four, thinking I’d be delighted because I loved animals. This dog was crazy and I was terrified! I cried and begged him to take him away. The people who owned him came looking for him, but knew me and my family and said I could keep him. My dad, being a big Elvis fan insisted we called him Shep, and I learned to love him. I remember he used to open everybody’s laces and jump up on people. I don’t remember what he looked/felt like at all. He got poisoned and had to be put down and I cried for ages!
Blackie (how original) was a stray that turned up at our door. I don’t remember anything about him but there’s a photo somewhere of me and my dad feeding him bread. I think he was a staffy, and not the friendliest, so he didn’t stay around long and got turfed off to the pound or somewhere.
For my sixth birthday I got an 8 week old golden Labrador who we named Foofur (don’t ask!) My mum wanted a small dog, but this one had huge paws and grew to be a gentle giant. He was lively, playful, crazy and wolfed down food in seconds. He jumped in and out of windows, ate doors and ran upstairs and hid when there was fireworks. He detested most other dogs, especially Patch, who lived down the road. I would walk him around our garden on his lead, and he would be as good as gold until he heard Patch. He would run, pulling me to the ground and dragging me with him until the lead broke or I let go. I used to set up jumps and obstacle courses in an attempt to train him, (Cruel i know, but I was only small!) My cousin had a horse and I used to go horseriding and really wanted one too. This was the next best thing! Foofur sometimes ran away for three or four days, and would come back thin, dirty and exhausted. He had scars on his eyes from where he got stitches after fighting. He would swim after seagulls in the sea, and my parents swore each time he wouldn’t make it back to shore, but he always did. My nephew would lie on his tummy and fall asleep while drinking his bottle. My family, friends and visitors to our house adored him. We had Foofur for thirteen and a half years and making the decision to have him put down was very difficult. He was legendary in our town and people still talk about him today. The book ‘Marley and Me’ by John Grogan Could have been written about Foofur.
I bought Sasha with my confirmation money when I was in sixth class. She was a lhasa apso, with a silky coat and crooked buck teeth. I constantly groomed her, bathed her, played with her and walked her. She could jump very high for such a small dog. She had a wonky leg, so she skipped rather than walked. She would eat anything. Before we got a proper post-box the post woman would just throw the post in the back door. Sasha only chewed it once, and inside was my tickets to a REM gig. Luckily my sister found her, and she had only chewed the corners, so the tickets were fine. Foofur just about tolerated Sasha. They would play together and he would pull her around with her head in his mouth, always careful enough not to hurt her. When she was a tiny pup he accidentally stood on her, cracking her ribs and puncturing her lung. Oops!! They would try to steel each other’s food and growl at one another, but they loved playing together. We only had Sasha for four years because she was knocked down right outside our house.
Just after my 21st birthday I bought our bichon fries Dougal. He’s the cutest, most playful, affectionate, rogue I’ve ever met. He doesn’t bark, he screeches! He was very difficult to housetrain and growls when we brush anywhere near his rear end. He won’t go into the sea to swim at all, and is excellent at hiding from me when he’s got something he shouldn’t have in his mouth. He knows when its bedtime and loves his bed. He hides from his lead when my mum wants to walk him, then lies on the ground and refuses to move. He barks two minutes before my alarm goes off nearly every morning.
OJ is a saint compared to all the dogs that came before him. He’s trustworthy, intelligent and does what he’s told (most of the time anyway!) He enjoys his guide dog work but equally loves his free time. He learns quickly and loves going to new places. He has a black shiny coat and gets lots of complements on it. He knows when people are talking about him and loves posing for photographs. I have learned a lot about keeping dogs since I trained with OJ at the guide dog centre in Cork two years ago. I just wish i had all that knowledge before we got any of our previous dogs!