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Uffish Thoughts: A Canine Conundrum on the Irish Coast November 8, 2011

Posted by klondykewriter in Uffish Thoughts.

Uffish Thoughts: A Canine Conundrum on the Irish Coast

By Dan Davidson

October 14, 2011

– 775 words –

Strolling out to the viewing platform that surrounds the stone tower at the Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s Ring of
Kerry, I find    myself walking up yet another set of broad stone steps as we approach the well enclosed viewing point.

The woman coming towards me has a mid-sized dog on a leash. It’s the only dog I’ve seen at one of these sites in several days of traveling, and I am moved once again to wonder why people bring their pets to places like this.

The interpretive center here (the “Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience”) has been cleverly blended with the landscape, having been built into the grassy bluffs that hide the Atlantic Ocean from the parking area. From this side of the hill the only sign of the structure is the exit and the window of the cafe where we had lunched on Irish stew.

We’re feeling fortunate that the heavy morning mist that had plagued us all the way out here has lifted. While the sparkle of the mist that had settled on the spider webs which festooned the hedges and other bushes along the drive has been very pretty, this was not what we had come to see.  Nor did we pause for photos.

Our driver guide had done his best to lighten the mood, but “you’ll have to take my word for it” as he described some local vista we were passing had grown a bit thin after an hour.

We had seen the clever almost iMax video presentation about the rocks, birds and fish that live along the cliffs and nearby islands, and had toured the cleverly constructed interior museum before lunch, but were pleased to be able to get out into the fresh sea air, see the massive cliffs stretching away to left and right for eight kilometres, and walk up to O’Brien’s Tower, a rather phallic folly (any building that is constructed mainly for decorative rather than useful purposes) that is said to have been built to impress female visitors.

The dog just seemed out of place.

Not that it’s completely unusual. People still turn up with their dogs at the gate to the Dawson City Music Festival, as if it really matters to Rover (or more likely Skookum or Klondike) what band is performing in the main stage tent. Festival organizers have long since realized that having a herd of curious canines in the festival enclosure is bad idea, and so they don’t allow it.

People still turn up at the Front Street Gazebo their pets during musical performances for the DCMF, as well as for the summer “coffee house” series, but most, though not all, have the wit to keep them leashed.

So I am left to wonder why it matters at all to the pooch (perhaps Finn, Cuchulain or Paddy?) where his mistress has decided to take her walk on this misty day. Tangentially, I wonder if I need to watch the stone walkway more carefully for some sign that the pooch may have needed to do what comes naturally to most dogs that are out walking with their owners. There aren’t even a lot of garbage cans along this route, let alone those handy canine waste disposal canisters that I have seen in a number of the parks we’ve walked through during our time free from the tour schedule.

While I am quietly pondering that line of thought, the thing she is holding in her other hand finally registers on my consciousness. It’s a muzzle. It’s not a gentle leader headpiece like we use at home and which people often confuse for a muzzle when they see us with our dog. No, it’s a real, bona fide, sturdy looking muzzle – like for problem dogs that just might decide their space has been violated and might have problems with impulse control.

Right about then I decide to abandon any thoughts of asking the woman anything about her dog and move on to look at the cliffs. Maybe that’s why she carries the muzzle?



* Cliffside exit of the centre.jpg – From the seaside little can be seen of the interpretive centre. Here we see the exit to the viewing area, and a window from the café.

* O’Brien’s Tower.jpg – O’Brien’s Tower would command a splendid view of the coastline – but it’s locked up tight.

* The Cliffs of Moher in the mist.jpg – The Cliffs of Moher are impressive, even partially shrouded by mist.



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