Puppy Love: A Gay's Best Friend

Every year almost 6,000 abandoned dogs are put down in pounds across Ireland. Ciara McGrattan meets lesbians and gay men who have given unwanted dogs a second chance at life, and enhanced their own lives into the bargain.




Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.56.40

“I’m a veterinary nurse and that was definitely part of my decision to adopt a rescue dog. Jake is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. They have a bit of a bad reputation and they’re technically a ‘restricted’ breed, but they’re absolutely brilliant. Terriers are ‘ratters’ – they were bred to keep the rat population down on farms.

Once the Staffy breed was perfected, they became like a ‘nanny’ dog because they’re so good with children. The breed just got picked up by the wrong people. They can look menacing. When I go out for a walk I usually put a hoodie on him, to make him look cute, because otherwise, people will cross the road when they see him. He’s a very people-orientated dog. A lot of people don’t realise that once the cute and fluffy stage is over dogs do become more demanding. People come into the practice all excited and keen with a new puppy and then six months later they come back in and say: ‘He won’t stop doing this’ and ‘he won’t do that’.

Eighty per cent of behavioural problems in dogs are due to lack of exercise. It’s just boredom – if anyone’s sitting at home all day doing nothing, obviously, they get bored. It is like having a child – you find yourself talking about them a lot. When I someone new and I’m chatting away, the dog comes up. The phone comes out and the pictures come out! Because you put so much time in to training them and raising them, the dog becomes part of you.”


Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.56.17

“Obi is like my best friend. She’s a boxer/ whippet cross and she came from Dogs in Distress. I found her on Irishanimals. ie, where lots of different charities and pounds put up pictures of the animals they have available – they have donkeys and everything on it.

I don’t understand people who buy dogs when there are so many hundreds of dogs being put down in Ireland every week. There’s no reason for it. I’m sure there is a small percentage of dogs that, because of what’s happened to them in the past, can’t be re-homed, but the majority of them are healthy, good dogs that just need a chance. Having a dog in your life does mean a lot of responsibility. A huge amount, in fact – you can’t bring a dog to most places. But it also brings companionship, someone who gets excited to see you as soon as you walk in the front door, someone to hang out with. Dogs are proven to reduce stress.

They get you out of the house every day for a minimum of 30 minutes every day and are very good for your mental health. I would definitely recommend adopting a dog to someone who is in the right position to do it, but you need to be in a position to give a dog the commitment it needs every day – the dog has to be fed, to be walked, to be vaccinated.

One thing I think people need to remember is that a dog needs to be looked after when it’s old, not just when it’s young.

It’s a lifelong commitment you’re making to an animal. Ultimately though, having a dog has, without a doubt, enriched my life.”



Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.56.48

“When we moved into our first house in Bray 12 years ago, we had a proper house and a garden so we decided to get a dog. Alan spotted a ‘Home Wanted’ sign for a Chocolate Labrador who was 11 months old, and we adopted him. Then I got an email in work one day with an attachment about a home wanted for another Chocolate Lab called Buffy. Alan had written: ‘A sister for Ozzy?’ Then, one evening last summer, we came across a temporary adoption notice for a stray. I don’t know what possessed us, but we took her. Rosie is one. She’s a tan Tatterdale Terrier, I think, and she’s absolutely bonkers.

Ozzy is the biggest and he’s by far the quietest. Rosie, the smallest, can tend to be a little antisocial with other dogs, and then Buffy is somewhere in the middle. Labradors are very calm, placid dogs. They’re both very obedient, whereas Rosie just ignores us if we tell her to do something.

They’re great companions, great watchdogs and there’s definitely a lot to be said for them providing stress release. There are a lot of scientific studies and evidence to support the theory that having a pet reduces blood pressure, elevated heart rate – all that kind of stuff. I think there’s a lot to be said for that. I couldn’t recommend dog ownership enough. Because we don’t have a functioning womb between us we don’t have children, but if you do have kids, Labradors are wonderful family pets.”


Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.56.57

“I lost my cat last year and I was humming and hawing about whether to get another cat or a dog. So I got a cat, but afterwards, I decided I wanted a dog too. Sadie is a rescue dog from Cara Rescue Dogs. With her brown eyes just staring at me, saying ‘take me!’, and her little wagging tail – it was basically love at first sight. I put her in the back of the car, took her home and she settled in without any problems. She and the cat are great friends. They chase each other around the house. I chose a Border Collie because I’m not into small dogs, like Bichons or Jack Russells. I wanted a dog that would be full of energy – that I’d have to bring for walks.

Collies are so intelligent and they are such hard work. She needs three miles to four miles of a walk every day – twice a day sometimes! And when you bring her home after the walk she’s still running around. She wants to play all the time. Having a dog in your life means total commitment. You have to be home at certain times, you can’t go out and leave the dog for 8/9 hours at a time – you have to be home to feed them and walk them, bring them out to the toilet. I would recommend people to consider rescuing a dog rather than buying one from a breeder because a rescue dog is going to give you more love. A dog knows when it been saved and that’s not bullshit – you look in their eyes and they know. Everyone tends to go for a cute little puppy, but they should go for a dog that’s a bit older because they have a bit more love to give. I think so, anyway. It is a lot of work and a lot of money, so if you are considering getting a dog, think hard. Food vaccinations, medical care, kennelling if you go away… it’s not cheap. But it is all worth it.”


Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.57.10


“I had 12 dogs, but recently it’s gone up to 13 because a guy I know had a Chihuahua he needed to find a home for, so I said I’d take him in. I had three dogs a couple of years ago, and then I got a Chihuahua and I fell in love with them, so I got another one. People were looking at me and thinking I was a dog walker, but when they heard of dogs that didn’t have homes they’d say it to me and if I had space, I’d take them in. The dogs don’t fight. I’m not saying they are like children, but they all act and react in their own individual ways. They squabble sometimes but if I give them a toy, even in front of the others, they know it’s their toy.

The oldest Chihuahua I have is Paris. She’s nearly four. I’m not sure if she’s a pedigree, there might be some Jack Russell mixed in there. Paris is my favourite – but I love them all, especially Lisa Marie. She’s really fluffy – her mother is a Yorkshire terrier and her dad’s a Shitzu, so she’s really clever. I love fluffy dogs! I usually end up sitting underneath a pile of at least eight of them at night. When I was a kid I had an array of animals. I love birds, like Parrots, but I wouldn’t have one. It’s cruel to keep birds in cages. I’m moving to a farmhouse in the country next year, so there’ll be loads of space for the dogs to run around. Having the dogs definitely gives my life more meaning, because my life isn’t just about living – it’s about caring for them and keeping them as happy as they keep me.”



Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.57.20

“Dogs Trust is Ireland’s largest dog welfare charity. Our goal is to rehome 1,000 rescue or abandoned puppies or dogs every year. We work with pounds and welfare groups all over Ireland, where dogs have been surrendered or picked up by the dog warden or found wandering the streets. When they go into the pound, if they’re not reclaimed or rehomed within five days, then they are unfortunately destroyed. What we try to do is go in on day six and have as many dogs donated to us as we can feasibly take care of here in Dogs Trust (DT). If you re-home a dog or a puppy from Dog’s Trust, it will be neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, and will have a flea treatment collar.

A Training Behaviour Adviser will do a full personality check, just to make sure we match the right dog with the right owner and vice versa, and we’re on hand after re-homing for the lifetime ownership of the dog. We did some research a few years ago to determine the benefits of owning a dog. Some of the proven benefits are lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, along with help for depression, because dogs get you out and about and chatting with people. I think too that there’s huge satisfaction in knowing that you gave a dog another chance. Unfortunately, there are still almost 6,000 dogs being destroyed in pounds across Ireland every year. So we would encourage anyone to chose a rescue dog first and give it a second chance. If anyone’s interested in adopting a dog, they should come to the Dogs Trust Centre in Finglas.

We ask people to fill in a questionnaire so we can get an idea of their household, their hobbies, whether they are in or out of the house much, what kind of lifestyle they lead, and what kind of home will the dog be going to. Then we have a chat with them to make sure we match the right dog with them. It’s almost like a match. com! We want the owner to be aware of the dog’s needs, because these are rescue dogs who might have detachments. Maybe they’ve been dumped and they’re missing their owner. The first couple of weeks and months for them can be traumatic. They actually just need some TLC, some cuddles and some reassurance that they’re in safe hands again, so they can get back on their paws.”

This piece was originally published in the May 2014 issue of GCN. 

Support Dogs Trust and enjoy a fantastic night of entertainment at the annual Fur Ball 2015. Get your tickets here.


© 2015 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.