Summer fashion meets Fido!
What happens when you combine fashion-forward pooches with unbridled imagination? Ridiculous possibilities - that's what! Here, our reporter meets some of Ireland's canine royalty and their equally stylish owners.
Fashion has always been known for its enchanting possibilities. You can be classic one day, bohemian the next and gothic at the weekends as the options range from the sublime to the ridiculous. These days dogs are getting in on the action - who can ever forget Paris Hilton's chihuahua Tinkerbell (RIP) and her diamanté-encrusted, red-carpet lifestyle? Tinks had a wardrobe and social life that usurped most A-list celebrities, and an online following that would make a Kardashian weep. In this respect, her owner Paris fits the category of a Ceili (Canine Enabled Integrated Living), a phrase coined by retailer TK Maxx for those whose lives revolve around their dogs.
The designer-brands-for-less retailer is capturing an emerging lifestyle in Ireland, as evidenced by the boom in doggy daycare businesses, pet preening stations and speciality cafés with tailored menus for our canine companions. So, as part of its 'Ridiculous Possibilities' campaign, we teamed up with the store to ask four famous faces what purchases they'd make for their adored pooches this summer.
Fashion guru Darren Kennedy chose stylish trunks for a holiday with the hound, actress Aoibhín Garrihy packed up a hamper for a puppy picnic, agony aunt Tina Koumarianos picked out some glamorous gardening essentials, while make-up artist and model Tara O'Farrell chose accessories for tail-wagging swagger. As our photos prove, it really is a dog's life!
Darren & Harry
Darren Kennedy (33) is a TV presenter and Weekend columnist from Santry in Dublin. He has a mini Yorkshire terrier, Harry.
"When my partner Aidan and I decided to get a dog 10 years ago, we did quite a bit of research into the kind of dog that would suit our lifestyle, bearing in mind that we're city dwellers and we travel a lot. We got Harry from a breeder in Kildare, and he has been with us since he was seven weeks old.
"He has a little wardrobe of clothes, mainly because his breed only has one layer of fur so he can get cold in the winter. One of the most ridiculous things we've done together is walk the red carpet at the VIP Style Awards last year, wearing matching bespoke suits tailor-made by myself and Louis Copeland.
"Harry is part of the family, and is a factor and a consideration in everything we do. We kind of structure our day around him. He's my best bud and he's a feisty little monkey. He's boisterous, loud and effervescent, and he's as quick as they come. He knows his mind and is tenacious and won't stop until he gets what he wants - but he's such a softy and loves nothing better than to curl up on your lap, snuggle in under your arm and sneak into the bed.
"I'd say Harry understands 70-100 words and his level of communication astounds me. One day we were cleaning the oven hob, and he went over 10 minutes later and kept barking and jumping up. When we checked, we realised the gas had somehow come back on, so he's a clever little cookie. He weighs 1.5kg and I don't think he understands how small he is. He loves chasing pigeons and gets bullied by the neighbourhood cats - one of them actually punched him!
"Harry really means the world to me. If I've been travelling, when I return I get a greeting that is so full of happiness and joy - it even happens if I step outside the door for two minutes."
Aoibhín & Rubie and Reggie
Actress and teacher Aoibhín Garrihy is from Castleknock, Dublin, and has two Dogues de Bordeaux, Rubie and Reggie.
"My fiancé, John, had been talking about getting a dog for years, and we fell in love with a beautiful French mastiff on a beach in Sydney. I struggled to find a breeder here, but when I did, I surprised John with Rubie. She's a year-and-a-half old and has completely turned our lives upside down in the best possible way. It wasn't long before we decided we should get her a pal, so enter Reggie, who is six months old.
"I bought all sorts of accessories for Rubie, starting with bandanas and progressing to bumble bee costumes, Christmas jumpers and antlers. The funniest was the lion's mane at Halloween. We went trick or treating, and some people thought we had a real lion on a lead!
Rubie was also involved in our engagement. We were out walking on the Cliffs of Moher when John asked if I liked her new collar and tag? When I went to look, the tag said 'Marry me'.
"Rubie is quite independent, loves exploring and will wander all day. She's such a sweetheart, and she welcomed Reggie into the house with open arms and sort of mothered him. Reggie is the sassy one. He's extremely affectionate and is never far from our sides, but he likes to pull the wool over our eyes. If there is mischief to be made, Reggie is usually involved. He loves Rubie and is a big softy, and despite his size and weight, he insists on climbing on to our laps, which I find hilarious. He knows the house rules but is still determined to break them.
"Our dogs are spoilt, but they have completely enhanced our lives and the best days are the ones spent with them. We adore them and they're just the best company."
Tara & Teddy
Make-up artist and model Tara O'Farrell (29) is from Drumcondra in Dublin, and has two Yorkshire terriers, Teddy and Ruby.
"My fiancé, Daniel, and I had been considering getting another dog to keep Ruby company, so when the opportunity to adopt Teddy came up, we jumped at it. He is a year-and-a-half old now, and he and Ruby get on great most of the time. Teddy looks adorable in little coats and jumpers and, unlike Ruby, he doesn't mind wearing them. I have a cute blue bandana that I like to put on him, which always attracts a lot of female attention. He is quite the ladies' man.
"I find myself doing ridiculous things on a daily basis because of the dogs. Teddy dropped his ball in the river once and ran straight in after it. I had to go in after him in front of a park full of people, and then walk home soaking wet. Like me, Teddy loves to cuddle and always snuggles up to me or Daniel in the evening. He is extremely clumsy and has a really funny walk. People always point this out to us when we bring him for a walk. You can't look at him without smiling as he is usually tripping over something or getting confused. He can also do a handstand, but not on cue, unfortunately.
"Teddy is very friendly and loves to play with other small dogs. He has a bit of a 'small man complex,' so tries to scare bigger dogs off and sometimes manages it. He is so lovable and everyone who meets him instantly falls for him. He's very affectionate and very clingy too. I'm the good cop, so when it comes to reprimanding the dogs, they never do what I tell them, unfortunately.
"When I give Teddy and Ruby a treat, Ruby demolishes hers immediately and Teddy leaves his on the ground until she is finished. He waits until she is about to rob his treat, and then grabs it quickly and runs off. He has a very unique bark, which sounds more like a dolphin squeaking. He gets so excited when he goes for a walk that he squeaks the whole time, which usually attracts a few funny looks.
"I have always loved animals and especially dogs, and don't think I could live without one in my home. They're so loving and bring me so much joy and comfort. There are no bad days when you're coming home to a dog's unconditional love. To me, they're my little angels on earth."
Tina & Domina
Agony aunt Tina Koumarianos (63) of partyandwhine.com is from Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, and has three dogs and two parrots.
"Domina is a five-year-old Neapolitan mastiff, and I adopted her aged six months from a top UK breeder where she was bullying the other dogs. The most unusual thing I've done with her is dressed her as a Roman empress in Glendalough for the series Pet Island, which aired on RTÉ and BBC recently. For Christmas, I bought her a very fetching faux fur coat from TK Maxx. Our relationship is excellent, as long as I return home with pigs' ears.
"Domina is very loyal to the point where she wants to shower with me, and isn't happy to wait outside the door. She will not lick me as that would mean acknowledging I was the leader of the pack, and that would be silly. I have to brace myself when she charges into the room on hearing the hairdryer - she loves the hot air!
"Domina weighs 70kg, and I love her impersonation of a manatee while swimming in the lake at Glendalough. She howls endlessly when I answer the phone or am not giving her my undivided attention, and barks at people with hats or umbrellas. She enjoys unsupervised gardening so having bedding plants is out of the question. I have never known life without at least a couple of animals at any time. They're always happy to see you, and they make a house a home."
Photography by Barry McCall