How to be owned by an Irish Wolfhound
“However, noble descendant of the fierce fighting father, you are playing tonight with my son by the fire.”
(Excerpt from Hound of the Heroes by William Dammarell)
One is not so much “owned” by an Irish Wolfhound, as being “owned by” an Irish Wolfhound. I am currently “owned” by two, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They are typical of their breed and are an inexhaustible source of fun and joy. Once you are “possessed” by a Wolfhound, you have been touched by a special magic and you will never be the same again. But be careful! They are addictive! You can’t just stop at one!
I’m an owner, not a breeder – the idea crossed my mind, but I had to be honest – I would be a lousy breeder – I could never give away any of my “grandparent puppies”! Not for any amount of money!
I will give you a dog that is kept in Ireland. It is huge in members and for a follower equal to a man. Also, he has the wit of a man and will bark at your enemies but never at your friends. the face of each one, be it of ill will or of good disposition towards you. He will lay down his life for you. “(The Icelandic Saga of Njal; 970-1014 AD)
Now I am an experienced Irish Wolfhound “mummy”. A great deal of time and money has been invested in my “education”, but now my furry children have trained me well. I don’t claim to be an Irish wolfdog expert and all I want to do is share in the awe of owning one of these magnificent animals. You can laugh with me or laugh at me … nothing disturbs Irish Wolfhound owners … we are well trained, you see!
If you are one of the hundred who have ever stopped me on the street to drool over one of my dogs and ask me “where can I get one?”, You may want to consider what you would get. itself got one. So let me start at the beginning …
So you want to adopt an Irish wolfhound!
Years ago when my husband and I first saw “Chewbacca” (the “Wookie” who traveled the universe with a young Harrison Ford in Star Wars), we looked at each other and said, “I want one of those!” Unfortunately, the Wookiee were a mythical creature and, as far as we know, no one breeds them here on earth.
Then one day we came across a photo of an Irish Wolfhound, standing with its face to the wind. The resemblance was uncanny. “There is our Wookiee!” We cried at the same time, and without any preparation, we quickly decided to adopt one. Ah, those were our innocent days!
Irish wolfhounds are noble animals; gentle giants, whose basic nature is that of a typical “couch potato.” They love their comfort as much as you do. They are the perfect “babysitters” for your children and have the patience of a saint. However, owning such a large dog comes with many responsibilities, as well as immense pleasures, as we will soon discover.
First there was the added expense of having to swap out our beloved Mercedes for a large four-wheel drive pickup, to accommodate the dogs. Then came the sofa repairs, although since there is no more space on the sofa for us, I just cover the torn areas with a blanket and hope for the best. The fence has had to be reinforced, and I have lost count of the number of times my husband has replaced the wire in our screen doors. Our once soft suburban lawn (well it used to be a lawn, not sure what I would call it now), looks decidedly rustic. It actually looks like a horse paddock. As for my carpet and walls, well, let’s not go there, but please don’t be offended if I never invite you to my place.
I love my gentle giants, and what if they almost ruined the garden, the carpet, the walls, the couch, and almost ruined us with food and vet bills, I couldn’t imagine life without them. They have many wonderful qualities that allow me to feel that way. They share all aspects of our lives and they like nothing more than helping “mother” in the home office and “father” in the garden. In fact, our two Irish Wolfhounds have been quite hard-working this summer, helping Dad with the yard renovations. I think they are trying to build a pool on one side of the house. It should annoy them when the parent keeps filling it up again. They also play very well with our daughter. In particular, they like to sneak into your room at night and select a toy to play outside. They never destroy toys. I always find them in perfect condition, although a bit wet and gross from the experience.
Our initiation into Wolfhound parenting began with the adoption of Wookie, a gray male. (What else did you expect us to call it?) Our daughter was about two years old, so we felt like we had two babies to take care of. Wookie was a true clown, and to describe him as clumsy would be to put it mildly. When Wookie was only six months old, we realized that sharing our little home with him was going to be a challenge. Wookie’s queue could clear a table in one move, and leaving food on the kitchen bench was causing trouble. Unlike other dogs, who can only smell the delicious leftovers in the sink and dream about them, werewolves can see and reach for them.
Shortly after Wookie’s arrival, we find ourselves adopting a “rescue” dog. (Sadly, some people don’t research the requirements of owning one of this breed and then realize that they should have bought the miniature poodle instead.) Measuring approximately 90 cm (almost 35 inches) tall at the shoulder and weighing 78 kilos, it was, and is, a sight to behold. We assumed her age was around three years old and decided to celebrate her “birthday” with chocolate cake every Saint Patrick’s day. Wookie fell in love with her immediately, and although Guinny, as we decided to call her, found it a bit complicated at times, she developed a fondness for him and the two became firm friends.
We found that Guinny loves a good cup of coffee. Not the simple black thing. She likes hers white with two sugars, and no, of course we don’t give our dog coffee! There’s no need. She helps herself. I always know it’s been in my coffee from the telltale spills around the mug, or if I miss that (sometimes she cleans up after herself to hide the evidence), I know it’s been there because of the strange taste the mug left behind.
Irish Wolfhounds are warm and loving with a sensitive and gentle nature. I don’t know if I would recommend them as watchdogs, although owners can rest assured that if attacked, their Wolfhounds will defend themselves to the death. The size of these animals, combined with their deep, impressive barks, is probably enough to scare off most would-be thieves, but I don’t know if that would work in my home. I can only see it now. There they would be, standing by the fence, each with their favorite toy held firmly in their powerful jaws. My two intrepid defenders of home and hearth … “Don’t come here or my little bear will catch you!”
Having an Irish Wolfhound is an honor. Being accepted and loved by someone in return is truly a gift from God. My own furry children are an inexhaustible source of fun and company, and I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of my experience. (Speaking of scratching … is that a flea?)