On March 17, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, a day rich in tradition. The Saint for whom the day is named was kidnapped from Britain, and was made a slave in Ireland for six years. Upon his escape, he returned to Britain, but late in life, he felt called back to Ireland to join the Christian missionary effort then in place and lived out his life there. He promoted the meaningful message of working hard, and having firm faith and convictions…. the day was originally a Catholic holiday celebrating this patron saint of Ireland.
Today St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of Irish culture, with festive foods and celebration. It has become customary to wear something green, but why do we wear green? It has been said that blue was the first color connected with St. Patrick’s Day. However, Ireland’s tri-colored flag features blue, and Ireland is also known as The Emerald Isle because of its deep green landscape. The color of spring is also green, as are shamrocks. There is a legend that wearing green on this day makes you invisible and leprechauns can’t pinch you because they can’t see you.
Ireland is known for more than “wearing of the green,”; it is also the country of origin for many dog breeds which have gained popularity in the United States.
- The best known Irish dog is probably the Irish Setter. The Irish Red Setter is an elegant, intelligent, auburn-haired bird dog who likes to have a job to do. The Red and White Setter is nearly identical in build and personality to his red-headed cousin, and is primarily used as a gun dog.
- There are four terrier breeds from Ireland, and they have a lot in common, but THE Irish terrier is the only one with an all-red coat. They are also the oldest of the Emerald Isle’s native terriers, and were originally developed to hunt vermin. The Irish terrier gained world- wide popularity after serving as a messenger dog and sentinel during World War. This hardy, loyal terrier makes an awesome family pet.
- The Glen of Imaal Terrier, originally bred to eradicate vermin, was developed to withstand hard work with little affection, but these dogs have become favorite family dogs because of their endearing terrier enthusiasm and deep affection for their people.
- The Kerry Blue Terrier was also originally bred to catch rats and other vermin on farms, and is as hardy and devoted as the rest. They are known for being great all-around farm dogs and family dogs.
- The Irish water spaniel is a big, vibrant hunting dog with a distinct “rat tail” and a waterproof coat. They resemble the Portuguese water dog, and it is possible that they derived from dogs brought over in Portuguese fishing boats.
- The Irish wolfhound, according to the AKC, is the tallest of all dog breeds, with adult males measuring up to 34 inches at the shoulder. It is also likely the oldest Irish dog breed, dating at least as far back as the fifth century, and is considered a beloved symbol of Irish resilience.
- The Kerry Beagle is not to be confused with the traditional beagle that we know and love. It is a larger, longer hound with more in common with the American Coonhound. It is likely that he originated from Celtic hounds bred with dogs from “the continent” to make strong hunting stock.
- Wheaton Terriers are active dogs with a bountiful supply of playfulness, and can be very noisy, but they excel at many outdoor and obedience activities. They do not do well in hot weather, and have been known to easily overheat.
- The Irish Toy Collie’s lineage includes some very useful dogs, such as the Shetland Sheepdog, among other talented herders. This breed also includes a large amount of Spitz-breed genetics, resulting in a lively, very smart dog with a sweet personality.
If you are considering adopting, check out the awesome Celtic canine breeds (for more info on Irish Canines, go to www.irishcentral.com). Whether your fancy runs to Irish dogs, leprechauns, the emergence of Spring, or the heroic life of St. Patrick, this holiday holds something for everyone! (And just in case the leprechauns are watching, play it safe and wear a touch of green!
May your day be touched by a bit of Irish luck, brightened by loyal four-footed friends, and warmed by the smiles of the people you love. HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!!!