20th Sep 2020
It says a lot about Ireland as a nation, that we can collectively mourn the loss of a pet, a beloved creature which was not ours, but associated with people that bring us comfort in times of strife and difficulty
Read not the odd scornful posts on social media which imply that we should have better things to worry and be sad about than the loss of a dog. There are, and we do. But it, thankfully, didn’t stop the outpouring of sadness that followed the news of the passing of President Michael D Higgins’ beloved dog Síoda.
One of a pair of Bernese mountain dogs, Síoda (a female) with Bród (a male) had been a popular double act at Áras an Uachtaráin welcoming dignitaries and members of the public to the President’s residence.
The news was first detailed in an Áras newsletter, which said: “Sadly, we must report that Síoda has passed away after a short illness”.
No matter the occasion, one or both dogs could be seen frequently pottering up to Higgins (sometimes mid-speech) for a trusty rub or cuddle. They were synonymous with happy occasions, and dare I say, a sign of more normal times. To see them with our president felt reassuring; a reminder that life goes on.
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Because even now, in the midst of a pandemic, our pets, just like our children, mean life will and does go on regardless. They need care, devotion, attention. Covid-19 or not, their world, their needs remain unchanged and we have to keep going, even on the bad days, for them as we do for each other.
Perhaps that’s why Síoda’s passing struck such a chord. Such is the unpredictability of life, of this pandemic, there will always be elements we can’t control – and planning, control, what we have always known to be our normal, is what we long for even more now. Bród is without his companion, though we hope it won’t be too long before he has one alongside him in the Big House.
“The dogs are not merely ice-breakers, they’re also a great source of wisdom, and they must be protected from the stresses of the Anthropocene,” Higgins said of them previously.
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It is okay to mourn the loss of Síoda, of something we once associated with our lives pre-Covid.
She will be missed.
Main photograph: @presidentirl
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