Saturday 1 October 2016

The lick of love: Ireland's best known dog lovers

Published 12/04/2015 | 02:30

Jamie Heaslip and Jay Z. Photo: Mark Nixon
Jamie Heaslip and Jay Z. Photo: Mark Nixon
Jamie Heaslip and his beloved bulldog, Jay Z. Photo: Mark Nixon
Lisa Fitzpatrick and dog Snowy
Diarmuid Gavin and Roxy. Photo: Damien Eagers
Gillian Quinn with her dogs at her home in Kildare. Photo: Damien Eagers
Aoife Cogan and Albert. Photo: Tony Gavin
Holly Carpenter and her dogs Toby and Gus. Photo: Mark Condren
Chupi Sweetman and her dogs. Photo: Mark Condren
Donal Skehan and Max
Designer Giovanna Borza with her pug
Darren Kennedy and dog Harry

Some of Ireland's best known dog lovers introduce Gillian Fitzpatrick to their furry BFFs

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Jamie Heaslip & Jay Z

"I've always wanted a dog, but in our house, before I was born, my brother was allergic to dog hair, so we never had one. Before my dad got married, he had an Alsation and dogs in his house so when I was living on my own in Dublin, I decided to get a dog. I always wanted a big dog and I loved bulldogs so Jay Z fitted in.

"I could give him a good life, so I suppose we suited each other. Jay Z will eat anything and the vet in Sandymount has been amazing. Bulldogs have their issues like a lot of dogs would have, and Jay Z has a skin issue so the vet has him on dry food to sort it out. He gets a bit of mince and the night before a big game, I usually have a big T-bone steak so when I finish that, I throw him the T-bone. That's his weekly treat.

"When I get a chance, I throw him in the back of my Jeep, and bring him walking on the beach over by Poolbeg and let him out the back to run around. He doesn't need a whole lot of walking, but he moves when he wants to. He is 26kg, something I have to keep on top of. He gets weekly weigh- ins, like myself.

"If I'm away at training camp, he goes to my partner's mum's house in Skerries where she has two Alsations and another little dog, so he runs and plays with them and gets knackered.

"If Jay Z was a player on the Irish rugby team, I'd say he would be a prop. He'd be like Cian Healy, or Sean Cronin. Cian is a dog fan. He has a pug and a German Shepherd. Jay Z is like Cian - he's wide, he's built, explosive, but only goes short distances. Cian would say it himself, he's not built for endurance!

Jamie Heaslip and his beloved bulldog, Jay Z. Photo: Mark Nixon
Jamie Heaslip and his beloved bulldog, Jay Z. Photo: Mark Nixon
Lisa Fitzpatrick and dog Snowy
Diarmuid Gavin and Roxy. Photo: Damien Eagers
Gillian Quinn with her dogs at her home in Kildare. Photo: Damien Eagers
Aoife Cogan and Albert. Photo: Tony Gavin
Holly Carpenter and her dogs Toby and Gus. Photo: Mark Condren
Chupi Sweetman and her dogs. Photo: Mark Condren
Donal Skehan and Max
Designer Giovanna Borza with her pug
Darren Kennedy and dog Harry

"I'm a big hip hop fan, and I would like to name any dogs I have from now on after artists, but I think my partner wouldn't be too happy about that. She settled on Jay Z and I tried to pick Wheezy for the next one, but she wasn't having any of that. I'm going to get another bulldog, by the end of the year hopefully."

In conversation with Bairbre Power.

Jewellery designer chupi sweetman with Poppy & Rufus

"One of my two rescue dogs, Rufus, is coeliac and needs a specialist diet otherwise he gets so sick. Still, with gluten-free food being really trendy at the moment you have to laugh at the absurdity of having a gluten-intolerant pet.

"Growing up in Wicklow, I was always around dogs so I was never in any doubt that my husband Brian and I would have our own too. In the end we went to Dogs Aid in Ballymun to find them. We got Poppy first, followed a little later by her brother, Rufus. They came from a litter of 14 and my dad affectionately calls them Heinz dogs - because they look like a mix of 57 varieties! They both weigh less than 5kg and delight in things like stealing carrots and courgettes and scampering off to chew on them.

"Having dogs has encouraged me to rediscover old favourites in Dublin - like the Phoenix Park and the Iveagh Gardens. We think of places like Paris and New York boasting these chic city centre retreats, but there's so much on our own doorstep - and having a dog only reiterates that to you."

Gardener Diarmuid Gavin and Roxy

"Roxie, my three-year-old black goldendoodle, and I had difficult beginnings. In fact, my wife Justine and daughter Eppie just didn't like her at first. She's a beautiful dog, but she was a handful as a pup. She ate books, the new lawn, all the curtains, and our three-piece suite - the damage cost us an arm and a leg. She grew incredibly fast, and was incredibly boisterous. The stern "it's the dog or me" talk happened more than once and it was definitely touch-and-go for a while. Thankfully, however, that awkward period passed and now she's so much easier to handle. She's universally adored; a real pal to everyone in the family.

"Traditionally, we were a King Charles cavalier spaniel household but I wanted a big dog that I could stride up the Sugar Loaf with - and that's how we ended up with Roxie. They're very different beasts too: King Charles are so regal and they never bother themselves with anything too taxing unless they absolutely have to.

"Every so often I'll threaten to get another dog to keep Roxie company - we might go for a King Charles to mix things up, or else just take the plunge with another goldendoodle!"

Holly Carpenter and her dogs Toby and Gus. Photo: Mark Condren
Holly Carpenter and her dogs Toby and Gus. Photo: Mark Condren
Jamie Heaslip and his beloved bulldog, Jay Z. Photo: Mark Nixon
Lisa Fitzpatrick and dog Snowy
Diarmuid Gavin and Roxy. Photo: Damien Eagers
Gillian Quinn with her dogs at her home in Kildare. Photo: Damien Eagers
Aoife Cogan and Albert. Photo: Tony Gavin
Chupi Sweetman and her dogs. Photo: Mark Condren
Donal Skehan and Max
Designer Giovanna Borza with her pug
Darren Kennedy and dog Harry

Model Holly Carpenter with Toby & Gus

"For my seventh birthday I was given a rescue dog, a Jack Russell cross which I called Molly. Afterwards, I was the envy of all my friends. Molly would get dressed up and wheeled around in a pram, but she took it all in her stride. She died last month at the age of 16-and-a-half, and is so missed; my family and I are still devastated, in fact.

"Thankfully, I still have two dogs - there's Gus, a three-year-old pug, and Toby, a little terrier who arrived about a year ago. I rescued them both and they're full of personality in their own ways. The likes of Dogs Trust does amazing work. I don't think anyone should go out and buy a pet when there are so many gorgeous, healthy animals being put down because no one wants them.

"I walk them together in St Anne's Park in Raheny, near to where I live. At this stage I know a load of the regulars there - and we're all recognisable to one another by our hounds. It's amazing how dogs bring people of different ages and from different backgrounds together."

Designer Giovanna Borza & Kojak

Kojak is a pug who's five, while Capone (not pictured here) is still only a pup - a French bulldog who was born last October. Together, they have their own Instagram account with more than 600 followers (@kojak_and_capone). Their personalities perfectly match their names too: much like the TV character, Kojak likes to pretend he's tough but he's a massive softie, while Capone is a gangster just like Al. They love to come into the studio with me and keep everyone company. They're pretty much part of the team now, though they've been known to scarper off with pieces of fabric and leather.

I'm probably not your typical dog-owner because I certainly wasn't obsessed with animals growing up. I was actually a little bit afraid of dogs when I was a child. But my fiancé Marcus introduced me to the canine world and I haven't looked back since. Not least because we're adamant that Kojak saved Marcus's father's life. One evening Michael, who's used a wheelchair for the last decade, stopping breathing in his sleep. Kojak immediately recognised that something was wrong and barked and barked until Marcus came to see what the ruckus was about. Needless-to-say, Kojak gets plenty of sneaky treats from Michael now.

Stylist and presenter Darren Kennedy & Harry

Everyone assumes I'm trying to make some sort of statement when I put Harry in jumpers and jackets, but there are practical considerations too: he's an eight-year-old miniature Yorkshire terrier who weighs about 1.5kg - so he feels the cold. If it's wet and windy out, as it often is in Dublin, then he's going in a jacket.

But despite his size, in those eight years, Harry's never been sick. He has that terrier resilience about him. Getting his teeth cleaned at the vet's - a procedure he had done recently - is about as serious as it gets.

When I'm catching up with friends and family, they always ask after Harry. They'll want to know what he's up to and how he is. I don't think twice about that - in fact, I'd think it pretty strange at this stage if they didn't ask.

My job involves plenty of travel, but Harry's so small and cute he has a long line of babysitters-in-waiting whenever I'm away. And I'm always posting up video clips and pictures of him online, so by now he has a firm fanbase. You just know that he loves all the attention too!

Model Gillian Quinn & some of her pack!

I manage our family's seven dogs. Until recently there were actually 10, but three of the older ones died leaving us with the current pack. I had grown up with dogs and when I first moved to the UK to live with my now husband Niall, I didn't think twice about getting one. Unfortunately I didn't choose the most practical breed and we found ourselves trying to control a poor, frustrated sheepdog in a Manchester flat. Thankfully Niall's sister, who lived on a cattle farm, was able to give him a much more suitable home. These days, the current lot have 30 acres in Kildare to run around - although they're definitely more pampered pooches than farm dogs. We have various sizes and breeds with Snoopy the cocker spaniel being the most spoilt of the lot. Kaiser is our latest addition: he's a beautiful white German shepherd and the apple of Niall's eye.

I actually never imagined myself with so many dogs but I have a reputation for being a soft touch; I'm still regularly asked if I'll adopt a pup from somewhere or other. At this stage in my life, however, with the kids growing up and moving on, I'm not in the market for any more.

Stylist and author Lisa Fitzpatrick & Snowy

I talk to my dog - a two-year-old Maltese called Snowy - all the time. I come home from a job and tell him how it went, or I'll ask his opinion on something. When it comes to posting up lots of pictures of him online, I'm guilty as charged too. And I try to take him with me whenever I can; by now he's a regular up in the Beacon hotel in Sandyford.

It's great that Snowy's breed is non-shed so there isn't fur all over everyone. In saying that, I'm certainly not precious about things like that - a muddy paw-print here, or a slobbery lick there is nothing that baby wipes can't fix, even at the last minute when you're running out the door.

In the evenings, my husband and I unashamedly fight over Snowy. He'll be sitting on Paul's lap and I'll be trying to coax him over to mine to pet. But who can blame us - there's just something very soothing and comforting about having a dog around, and it's a presence I could never be without.

Chupi Sweetman and her dogs. Photo: Mark Condren
Chupi Sweetman and her dogs. Photo: Mark Condren
Jamie Heaslip and his beloved bulldog, Jay Z. Photo: Mark Nixon
Lisa Fitzpatrick and dog Snowy
Diarmuid Gavin and Roxy. Photo: Damien Eagers
Gillian Quinn with her dogs at her home in Kildare. Photo: Damien Eagers
Aoife Cogan and Albert. Photo: Tony Gavin
Holly Carpenter and her dogs Toby and Gus. Photo: Mark Condren
Donal Skehan and Max
Designer Giovanna Borza with her pug
Darren Kennedy and dog Harry

Cook Donal Skehan & Max

I am the proud owner of Max, a three-year-old pooch who is a slightly awkward cross between a border collie and a Jack Russell. Growing up, my family always had golden retrievers in the house. I toyed with the idea of getting my own dog for years, but the timing never seemed right because I was always travelling. Then I thought I came up with the perfect solution: fostering. I had time put aside to write my book, Kitchen Hero, which meant - finally - I was going to be in the same place for at least two or three months. And so Max arrived... and then he never left.

Sofie, my fiancée, and I make sure he gets an hour walk every day around the cliffs at Howth. I even taught him how to swim: at first he wasn't a natural, but being a seaside dog I thought he should know the basics.

And being in a house that always has food, sometimes Max helps himself to something he shouldn't. Once he even ate all the rich, chocolate frosting from the top of a tray of brownies. At least he's a hardy pup - he's never been sick yet!

 

Model and form school owner Aoife Cogan D'arcy & Albert

Albert our beloved leonberger was born on July 17 last year, so he's still a puppy - albeit a giant one. And because of his size, Albert is well able to grab things from the kitchen counter or a cupboard. So far, he's destroyed the likes of a NutriBullet, and a pair of my boots; a week ago he ate my husband Gordon's brand new pair of €500 earphones - basically if you leave something out he will eat it.

Before Albert, we had a beautiful Bernese mountain dog called Wilson, who then tragically died when he was just two years old from cancer. We were heartbroken afterwards and we couldn't bring ourselves to get another Bernese - that would be too like replacing him. One day in the park, however, we spotted this huge big bear of a dog and asked the owner about the breed - he was a leonberger. We went home and did loads of research into their temperament before making a decision and taking the plunge. And while some people might be put off by large breeds, I can confirm absolutely that they're nothing but gorgeous big softies at heart.

 

picture: tony gavin

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