Phoenix bark — Michael D’s re-homed dog to be the official First Pet
My pedigree chum — President-elect Michael D Higgins with Galway Bay fm's Valerie Hughes, who has helped select the official First Pets of the Higgins administration. Photos courtesy of Valerie Hughes and Una Molloy.
By Declan Varley
Aras an Uachtarain will echo to the sound of heavy paws from next month as president-elect Michael D Higgins is to give a home to at least one and possibly two Bernese Mountain Dogs.
The presidential pooch, named Bruno, was a 12-month-old homeless puppy has been secured for the Higgins family by Galway Bay fm radio broadcaster and dog breeder Valerie Hughes. The dog was owned by a Northern Irish couple who emigrated to South Africa and who were unable to bring Bruno with them.
Ms Hughes is one of the best known breeders of Bernese Mountain Dogs in the country and her awardwinning exploits in dog shows such as Crufts and others are well documented.
Prior to the election, she spoke with Michael D who said that he would be very keen to have such a beautiful animal as his presidential pet, in the event of him winning.
The dog which can grow to a very large size will move into the Aras with the new President in two weeks time.
Ms Hughes said that the new President had been in touch with her regarding the dog for some time and he insisted that the Aras pet would be a dog who was abandoned or in need of a home.
"Bruno's story is a sign of the times. His owners were a young couple who found themselves forced to emigrate in search of work and they were unable to bring Bruno.
“They are heartbroken, but they had the good sense to hand the dog in to the Bernese Mountain Dog club, so that he would find a good home. Just how good a home, they couldn't possible have imagined," she said.
Ms Hughes has won awards at Crufts for her pedigree Bernese Mountain Dogs and revealed that one of these pedigree puppies will also be joining Bruno at some stage in the New Year.
"When I told Michael D about the dog, his eyes lit up and he was bowled over by the pictures. So we are in the process now of having the dog vaccinated and being microchipped. Neither Michael D nor Sabina has met Bruno in the flesh yet.
“The second puppy will be born in the New Year and I will house-rear that so that the Aras staff and security don't have to be cleaning up after a young puppy," she said.