PAWS FOR THOUGHT-Mairéad Ronan introduces us to Murphy
A family pet can really make a house a home and nobody knows this better than Irish broadcaster turned entrepreneur, Mairéad Ronan, whose fluffy pooch has transformed her household. She chats to RSVP’s Mikie O’Loughlin about her Lhasa Apso pup, Murphy, who thinks he is a brother to her seven-month-old daughter, Eliza – and why despite snoring like an old man, he will always be their little guard dog.
Why did you go for the name Murphy?
It was a very easy choice; it was my mother’s maiden name. My mum hasn’t been around for years and years now, but I always wanted a dog growing up and she said, “No, dogs break your heart. You can get one when you are a big girl.” I am definitely a big girl now! I couldn’t get a dog until last year because my working hours simply didn’t allow it. Then I changed my lifestyle and my husband doesn’t leave the house until a couple of hours after me, so the dog was only going to be on his own for three hours a day.
He looks so cute, but things aren’t always what they seem – what is Murphy’s worst habit?
He is a pretty dog, but he barks when the doorbell goes or when a car pulls into the driveway – just like every other dog. We have a seven-month-old baby now and she has supersonic hearing, so when he barks, she wakes up. There is nothing we can do about it, that’s his little personality and he is trying to guard us.
Welcoming baby Eliza seven months ago, what was it like introducing her to Murphy?
Murphy thinks that he is Eliza’s brother and he likes to share her toys. He thinks that he is our baby and we are probably guilty of treating him as such. It was quite easy introducing him, but I am only recently letting the baby lie down alongside the dog. I was always really careful about that and I always will be because he is still a dog. He adores her and every morning he likes to give her toes a lick, which is his way of saying hello.
That is so cute, does he protect her?
He stays beside the pram when we are walking; he likes to protect her, even though he is smaller than the wheel. He has got a bit of “small man treatment” – he thinks he is bigger than he is!
What type of personality does he have?
He is very energetic; he is just like Usain Bolt. He wouldn’t be a marathon runner, he is more like a 100m sprinter. He runs his little backside off when we take him to the park and he collapses as soon as we take him home, before he snores like an old man who has drank 40 pints of Guinness.
You can’t give in too much, is there anything that annoys you about him?
This sounds really naff, but we can hardly remember life before Murphy came along. It is always really strange returning home when he is not there to
greet us; it feels like the house is twice the size and really echo-y.
Do you talk to him like he is a person?
I had food poisoning recently and Murphy was there beside me every time I got sick. He is very, very caring and he is really tuned in to my moods and how I am feeling. He totally knew that I wasn’t myself and didn’t feel well.
He sounds so loving Mairéad, is there anything that you always say to him?
Everyone says “mind the house” just before we head out and he knows that means we are all leaving. He knows what that means, he is very clever.
So clever! What other words does he respond to and does he know any tricks?
He knows what it means when I say, “Will we go get Darragh?”, and at the same time every day, we go to the school. You can’t say “chicken” without him getting excited and of course, he understands “treat” and can give me the paw and dance on his back legs.
Is Murphy the closest to you out of the rest of the family?
No, he is not at all. He is the family pet, he belongs to me, Louis and Darragh – not quite Eliza just yet. There is definitely a three-way split, we all walk him and give him attention, he knows his bread is buttered three ways, so he doesn’t want to annoy any of us.
A lot of dog owners and their pets can be quite similar in their ways; do you guys share any traits?
I always want to go to sleep after a workout, the only difference is that Murphy gets to go to bed and I don’t. I definitely respond to the word “treat” just like he does. I also look great coming back after getting my hair done in Peter Mark and Murphy is always fabulous after the groomers.
Interview by Mikie O’Loughlin