Fido Friendly - Issue 3, 2007


Erin Go Woof. . . Visiting Doggie Mascots in Ireland!

While taking Fido with you in your travels is the ideal, sometimes your furry friend has to stay behind while you travel. That unquestionably creates a special ache in the heart of dog owners that only dog-lovers can identify with. To patch up that empty spot while traveling, I look for opportunities to stay at places where there's a live-in pup to snuggle with along the route and I look for friendly folks with equally friendly dogs in my travel to take time for a unique pet experience along the way. The joy of it lasts well beyond the trip leaving great memories of the dogs you've met and their owners.

I had the privilege of spending most of March, 2007 in Ireland, including being there for St. Patrick's Day! Along the way, I met some wonderful dogs (and their owners) that I'd like to introduce to you:

The Most Remarkable Dog I Met:
Jake takes the prize for the Most Remarkable Dog that I met! He lives at the Beech Hill House Hotel in Derry, Northern Ireland. Two year old Jake had a problem that required the amputation of his back right leg when he was a pup. After the vet saved his life, she advertised to find a mom and dad for Jake but there were no takers so she took Jake home to her mom, Patsy O'Kane, who owns and manages this historic hotel that Jake has know as home ever since.

Jake the 3- legged dog.

On any given day, you'll find shiny-coated, brown-eyed Jake swimming in one of the three lakes on the grounds of Beech Hill House or frisking about the park-like acreage surround the lodging. The key is that nobody told the healthy pup that he has a handicap and he's managed to compensate well, enjoying the grounds, the guests and the loving care of the owners!

If your travels take you to Derry, you'll feel quite at home at this hotel because it is a living monument to the US Marines! From 1942 to 1944, the officers of the US Marines who were stationed in Derry, lived at the house which is now the Beech Hill House Hotel. You'll find a Marine Library off of the reception area filled with photos and other memorabilia from the period. Outside the front door, a US Marines Memorial was erected as well. It was my privilege to have had a memorable photo taken of that monument flanked by myself and John Hume, a Derry resident, who was a former Member of Parliament, Civil Rights Activist, and winner of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize for his “efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland,.” I was lucky enough to have an appointment to meet John Hume at the Beech Hill House just 13 days before the latest historic announcement regarding the continued efforts to create an everlasting peace in Ireland. Ah, the joys of travel!

The Biggest Dog I Met:
In Longfordtown, County Longford, you'll find beautiful Oisin, pronounced O-sheen, the sweetest Irish Wolfhound! She allows James and Beryl Kearney, owners of the historic Viewmount House, to live with her! The hotel, built in the 1700's as a manor house, has beautifully restored public rooms and comfortable en-suite bedroom accommodations, which means that the bathrooms are in your accommodation as opposed to shared facilities down the hall. My favorite room in the house is the dining room, complete with gothic vaulted ceiling. But the grounds and rooms come to life in special way when Oisin drops by to visit!

The Dog that Reminded Me of Home:
In Derry City, Northern Ireland, I met this liver-and-white Springer Spaniel. In the US, we'd call him an English Springer Spaniel but in Ireland, the breed drops the first word of that name for a 1000 years of reasons! This fella with a lovely disposition was out for a stroll on his own so I didn't learn much about him other than that he clearly felt safe in the now-peaceful streets of Derry.

If you're going to Derry, in order to understand the history and significance of the artwork and remnants of difficult times past, I'd recommend a guided tour. One of the best guides is Martin McCrossan who can give you personal insights into Derry past and Derry present with stories that will stay with you long after you return and he'll make time for you to stop and meet furry fellas like my new Springer Spaniel friend shown here! You can contact his company, City Tours at Visit their website at .

The Most Welcoming Dog in Ireland:
On a drive around the coastline of Donegal Bay, County Donegal, Ireland, I had the joy of meeting Sparky whose owner, Evelyn, has been a local resident for more than 30 years. Sparky is delighted to meet new friends and I was just as delighted to jump out of our rental car to meet and greet Sparky. The beaches along the North Atlantic in Donegal are fabulous for long walk as are the country roads and lanes and you just never know when a friendly pooch, with or without its owner, is going to meander over to meet you. If you've been to Ireland but you haven't been to the Northwest of Ireland, you have missed more than you can imagine! You'll find the highest cliffs in Western Europe in Donegal and if you don't meet a friendly dog, there's always a black-faced sheep who wants to make eye contact with you!

Historic Donegal Castle, Donegal Bay, cliffs higher than the Cliffs of Moher, and always something special to see and do are all part of the Northwest Ireland experience. This is the perfect time to go to the Northwest of Ireland because 2007 is the 400th anniversary of the historic “Fleeing of the Earls” from Donegal to Spain. That's particularly interesting because it parallels the settlement of Jamestown, VA the same year for the same reasons. The British intolerance of the Catholics in Ireland and the loss of their homes and lands in that process created the motivation for 100 Earls in Ireland, including the O'Neills, the O'Donnells,and the Maguires, to leave Ireland to go to Spain. To commemorate the Fleeing of the Earls, an event is planned every day for 5 months starting this Spring through the Fall 2007. One of the major events will consist of a march from Donegal to the port where the 100 Earls boarded a ship bound for Spain. Participants dressed in costumes of the period will walk and ride their horses in this three day trek replicating the events of 400 years ago!

And the best news is that it's now easier than ever to get into the Northwest and West of Ireland by flying into Knock International Airport, halfway between Galway and Donegal. Ask your travel agent about non-stop flights from NYC's JFK and from Boston's Logan Airport. You'll arrive in a rural area, free of traffic and congestion, only 10 miles from the Knock Shrine, the second most important shrine in the world after Lourdes, France. You can pick up your rental car at the airport from Dooley Car Rental, the only independent car rental company in Ireland and you're on your way to a trip you'll carry in your heart forever!

The Busiest Working Dog:
Now that would be Meggie! Meggie is a working shepherd. She is a Border Collie whose job it is to herd the sheep on the organic farm where you'll find Coolanowle House in County Leoise (pronounced Leash) between Carlow and Leoise. Coolanowle House, owned by Bernadine Mulhall and her husband, Jimmy, provide both the historic house lodgings and private cottages that Meggie enjoys protecting as well as part of her self-imposed duties. Bernadine is clear to note that Meggie takes her jobs seriously and that tending the sheep would be impossible without a dog with Meggie' vs skills and instincts.

Coming Home - The Dogs I Love Most:
Back home, it's great to take Molly and Beau, my English Springer Spaniels, to participate in celebrating Take Your Dog To Work Day in Portland, Maine. If you don't have a day like this in your town, now is the time to start one so you can take a special trip with your dogs. . . to the office! Bravo to the Eastland Park Hotel in Portland, a pet welcoming hotel through and through, for spearheading this special yearly event and sponsoring it too! As you can see, they've decorated the hotel's window display area, complete with fire hydrant, to commemorate this special event designed for caring dog owners and their pets!

Taking your dog to Ireland:
If meeting and greeting lovely pups along the route isn't enough to quench your thirst to be with your own furry friend, then the only solution for you is to take Fido along with you. If you go through the six-month process, which includes insertion of an identifying microchip under your dog's skin here at home, you can take Fido right through Immigrations and Customs in Ireland, thus avoiding the six-month quarantine process. For complete information on that process, visit my website at and enter keywords: "Pet Scheme" into the SEARCH box.

Gotta Fly Now! sm
Stephanie Abrams • June 2007

Related Photo Galleries:
More images of Jake and other traveling pets here.

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