This month Zack Manko focuses on March's holiday and some interesting facts about the history of it you may not have heard before!
There are many days in March which are a cause for celebration. After all, the entire month is Women’s History Month. Additionally, it is also National Frozen Food Month. These two facts alone should have us seeing record ice cream sales in March.
March is also home to a few pet-related themes. For example, March is the ultra-specific Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month. It is also Pet Poison Prevention and Awareness Month. Given this designation, you should take the time this month to do a survey of your house, and make sure your critters cannot get into any toxic or potentially harmful materials. This includes plants (which could be extra concerning during this time of year, what with spring and all), medications, and cleaners.
However, March holidays’ big daddy is of course Saint Paddy. Saint Patrick’s Day is March 17th, and gives the Irish, dog lovers, Irish dog lovers, and just about anyone a reason to party.
Paws on Parade
One of the biggest parts of modern St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are the parades. Cities all over the globe hold parades with marching bands, dancers, floats, theater troupes, and, yes, tons and tons of green. However, what you may not know (Sorsha and I didn’t) is that many of these parades include Irish dogs looking to celebrate their country’s most important saint.
Cities like New York, San Fancicso, Chicago, Atlanta, Savannah, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Dublin all put on St. Patrick's Day parades that feature canines in some way. From hosting pet-friendly viewer areas to displaying dog groups (including working police dogs) as part of the parade, these events promote some fun for fido.
If you are going to check out a Saint Patrick’s Day Parade this year, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some Irish dog breeds. These canines include types like the magnificent Irish Red Setter, the fuzzy Irish Terrier, the ancient Kerry Beagle, the stalwart Kerry Blue, the adorable Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier, and the mighty Irish Wolfhound. If you want to learn more about any of these fantastic animals, check out the Irish Kennel Club.
Stuff On the Rocks, Shamrocks, and Wet Noses Don’t Mix
Now, while it’s true that St. Patrick’s Day has a reputation for rowdy parties and copious amounts of alcohol, that doesn’t mean that you have to succumb to the urge to consume as much green beer as you can. Have fun, but be responsible.
Now that I’ve bestowed some fatherly advice on the humans, let’s talk canines. It’s no secret that alcohol and dogs don’t mix. Most of the time this isn’t too much of an issue, since dogs are not naturally drawn to alcohol. After all, it doesn’t smell like food to them. Heck, sometimes it doesn’t smell all that appealing to me either.
That being said, be sure not to leave any alcoholic beverages (including mugs of green beer) unattended, in case Fido decides to take a sip. If he or she does, don’t panic. Just like humans, the size of the dog and the amount of alcohol they have consumed are the primary factors that will influence the effect the substance has on the dog. If you are worried that they may have gotten into some, call your vet.
Similar to alcohol, shamrocks are another common piece of St. Patrick’s Day paraphernalia. Considered lucky, St. Patrick himself once used one of these three-leaf clovers to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. They are often passed out to children during parades.
However, this delightful flora is anything but lucky for dogs. Shamrocks are moderately toxic to canines, and can cause upset stomach, drooling, head shaking, low blood calcium, and even kidney damage. Again, dogs are not likely to go after shamrocks, since they are bitter and not necessarily tasty, but that doesn't mean that it won't happen, especially if it appears in abundance during this holiday.
Stick to kibble, and if you think your critter has taken a shamrock nibble, be sure to call your vet.
Unsurprisingly, Saint Patrick is at the root of St. Patrick’s Day. Many may recognize Saint Patrick as an important Irish saint, but most do not know much beyond this. Diving into his history reveals many amazing stories that involve some canine support.
Patrick was actually born in Roman Britain in what one day be called Scotland around 400 AD. The first time he went to Ireland, he went as a slave—he was captured by Irish pirates and taken to the island. He was forced to serve as a shepherd to an Irish king or chieftain. However, after six years of enslavement, St. Patrick had a dream in which an angel told him to go to a port 200 miles away, and that a ship would be waiting there to take him home.
He escaped and made the long voyage and, sure enough, there was a ship from Gaul (present day France) waiting there. What's more, it was full of Irish Wolfhounds. Patrick had a hard time negotiating passage on the ship, as he had nothing to offer in the way of payment. However, each time he started to leave the dock, the dogs would raise an awful racket.
Realizing that Patrick was having a calming effect on the dogs, and fearing a sea voyage full of barks and baying, the sailors agreed to transport Patrick back home. Unfortunately, the ship was caught in a storm and shipwrecked. While the crew were making repairs, they were afraid of starvation and intended to eat their cargo (the dogs). Patrick, recognizing the part they had played in saving his life, prayed that they would be spared. As luck would have it, wild pigs appeared the next day, and the crew was able to feast on bacon instead.
Patrick would return to Ireland many years later, this time not as a slave, but as a priest. However, his canine-related miracles were not over. A pagan king tried to stop St. Patrick, and he was attacked with a large Irish Wolfhound. However, Patrick was able to calm the creature with a few words.
Quite the amazing tale, and in no small part due to some holy hounds! However you spend St. Patrick’s Day this year, have fun and Erin go Bragh!