Saturday 21 September 2019

Stuck in the doghouse

It was a hair-raising 24 hours for the nation's pets as Ophelia howled outside. We asked the owners how their furry friends fared

Basil and Rosie
Basil and Rosie
Stella Forte’s dog Sally
Andrea Hayes and Dash
Naomi Richardson’s dog Niuide
Rachel Allen’s pets Benji and Oscar
Michelle McGrath and Ringo

As Ophelia raged outside, most of the nation's pet owners were careful to keep their dogs and cats indoors - but even then, it wasn't all plain sailing, as many found out. We checked in with some animal lovers to ask them how their pets weathered the storm.

Andrea Hayes: TV presenter and author, owner of Dash, a golden labrador retriever

Andrea Hayes and Dash

"Dash was inside with the rest of the family where he had chew toys and an extra bone that I thought might distract him. Dash is nearly 13 and a sensitive old boy at this stage - he was quite clingy and stayed by my side for the whole day. During the storm, we lost a bit of fencing around the house, and on the advice of ESB we left our front gate open. I let him out yesterday morning to go to the toilet and next thing I saw him wandering past the front window. We live on a busy road and luckily I caught him in time before he went anywhere."

Andrea’s new book Dog Tales is out now via Gill Books.

Catherine O'Mahony: Journalist and owner of labradoodle Rosie and cat Basil

Basil and Rosie

"Basil's patience with Storm Ophelia wore out at approximately 7.02am on Monday. When you are a one-year-old male domestic tabby with an insatiable appetite for adventure, a closed door is simply not what you want to face of a morning. But with strong gusts of wind in the offing, we took the decision to keep both Basil and Rosie inside.

"Rosie, a mature and gentle soul, accepted her lot with a sigh. Basil was rather less patient. The teenager decided to intervene to help him blow off some energy, tying a string around a ball of silver foil and running up and down the stairs with the cat in hot pursuit.

"Basil then paced the kitchen like a tiny puma, beyond bored. He swatted at Rosie's nose. She ignored him. He attacked the blinds. He started running relays around the kitchen. He finally set up a vigil at the back window, tail twitching, leaping whenever a leaf blows past. In the end, he slumped on the pet bed with Rosie in despair... until 7am on Tuesday when the door finally opened for him. He was off like a streak of furry lightning."

Darren Kennedy: Stylist/TV presenter and owner of Harry, a mini Yorkshire Terrier, 11

"I was travelling during the storm, but I made sure to do full prep for Ophelia before I left. Harry was out with my Mam, Granny Kennedy. She has a dog herself, Sam, so we did similar to what we do around Halloween. We put them into a room in the centre of the house and stuck Lyric FM on for them. Harry's an avid listener by now!

"As a rule, he'll refuse to go out in bad weather - he'd get blown away in any case as he's pretty tiny. I make sure he is entertained and has plenty of water and food so he doesn't get cabin fever. I like to keep everything as calm as possible. When I bring him to my Mum, I always bring his bed out there and, most importantly, we make sure the dog isn't left alone."

The Autumn/Winter ’17 edit of the Darren Kennedy Recommends collection is now available in Specsavers stores nationwide.

Stella Forte Magazine designer and her puppy Sally, 12 weeks

Stella Forte’s dog Sally

"My husband and I recently got 12-week-old Sally from the shelter in Mullingar. She's still only a puppy so she's quite fearless, but hurricane Ophelia had her a bit unsettled and looking for more attention than usual. Luckily I could work from home while the storm was hitting so she was happy to sit in my lap while I worked. But anytime she wasn't there, she was nipping at my heels for attention.

"Obviously she loves me and my husband equally, but she seemed to just want to be near me in particular all day. Every time she went to go out the back to do her business, I would open the door only for her to come to an abrupt stop and run back inside having thought better of it. The wind continued in the midlands late into the night but Sally was quite content in her bed as usual. There was a fair bit to clean up the next morning though as I think she had been holding it in during the day!"

Naomi Richardson and her dog Niudie

Naomi Richardson’s dog Niuide

Journalist and her dog Niuide, 10 "Niuide, a King Charles cavalier, is a pampered pooch. She is 10 now so she mostly spends her days dozing on an orthopaedic cushion by the radiator with her water and food bowls within easy reach. She does enjoy a walk, mostly to the gate and back, but on Monday morning when I opened the door, instead of running out gleefully with a little snack as she usually does, she stuck her nose out, sniffed the air, looked at me and turned on her paws, heading back to bed.

"A lie-in was just what the vet ordered. Later on, as Ophelia howled around the house, rain slamming against the windows, she went over to the patio doors in the kitchen to survey the scene. She barked and barked, not liking it one bit, but clearly, safe and warm in the comfort of her own home, she was prepared to defend us all."

Michele McGrath: Model and owner of Ringo, 3, rescue Jack Russell

Michelle McGrath and Ringo

"We were told to keep Ringo inside, but they need to be taken to the toilet and walked, so I made sure to bring Ringo on a walk before the storm hit red status. He actually kind of enjoyed the storm!

"I think he's a bit of a storm chaser as he was kind of fearless. He loved looking out the window watching. He was just so intrigued at the whole thing."

Michele met Ringo via the Dog’s Trust. For more information see

Rachel Allen: Chef/TV presenter owns two dogs (Oscar, 4 and Benji, 3) and two cats (Snowy and Sooty, both 1)

Rachel Allen’s pets Benji and Oscar

"Where we are, in Shanagarry, East Cork, the power is now completely down; we have no WiFi or electricity. In February 2015, there was a bad storm in work and we lost a big chunk of our roof, so I've always been a little bit nervous of stormy weather since then. Because I was up to 90 on Monday, my husband Isaac said: "I'll go have a look at the roof." When he came back in he said: "I think we need to leave. Some of the roof slates are moving again." So we decided to go to a hotel nearby. We couldn't find the cats, so we locked the house, put the dogs in the car and away we went. When we came back at 5pm, we found one of the cats fast asleep in a storage box among the boys' sports bags."

Catch Rachel Allen as she co-hosts and judges alongside Glynn Purnell on My Kitchen Rules UK series 2 on Monday – Fridays at 4pm on Channel 4.

Irish Independent

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