april 22 - 28


2 courtesies today!

Karl and I were approaching Rathgar cross from the avenue.  A young man in a grey van pulled out of a lane way onto the pavement.  Traffic.  He reversed.  We could pass.

Later, on Brighton road, a young woman was leaving a house with a Jack Russell type dog.  I prepared for the anticipated animated interaction!  Instead, the woman waited inside the gate until we passed.

Little things mean a lot!

Between this, amidst the traffic on Dundrum road, we became aware of what seemed to be an altercation!  On the other side of the road the 5-year-old dog from the pound was going ballistic at the sight of Karl 10 metres across!  His owner was embarrassed at the emphatic dislike!  Karl was nonchalant!


Shortly after we turned into Garville avenue, a familiar voice came from the other side of the road.  Kirstin, bursting at the seams with excitement, prepared to meet the handyman.  'When Harry met Sally' flashed by! 

I tried to manage things!  4 feet on the ground and he will rub you!

She jumped, gesticulated, contorted, close to somersaulted.  Canny collar loose.  Little control for me now!   

A handyman and a gentleman, he seemed to feel that he should fix it.

Instead, I straddled the dog. Held her in a vice grip between my knees.  Explained 'this is how I do it!'  He looked on as I carefully replaced the black strap over her snout and adjusted the D-rings before attaching the lead again.  Learned the hard way!  Successful handling of buzzing high energy dogs is all about physical positioning!  Soon, the return of calm.  As though it never happened!


Transfixed by the cosiness of 3 male Mallards protecting 1 female swimming down stream.  Peace was interrupted by the sudden flight with intent of a heron.  The bird swooped dramatically around a tall tree recently come into leaf.  Then, the air was filled with the venomous voice of a jackdaw viciously pursuing the heron.  'Over my dead body!' seemed to be the cry!


A woman was struggling to restrain the excitement of her 2-year-old red Boxer girl on spotting Karl.  Finally, they sniffed.  Started to play in that wacky way Boxers do!  Sounds like savages on the rampage.  Yet, no blood!  The woman remarked 'It's all just handbags!'


my diary

see the funny side...
Sycamore First!  PIC Erik Holm


We were walking on Dundrum road this morning when I told Karl to 'Go Sniff!'  I was feeling the need of the kick from my morning coffee.  The bark of the Sycamore tree standing in the green verge attracted.  Then, without prelude or overture, Karl lifted his leg!  Joy bounded through me.  It was the first time!  He looked at me in that significant way of his.  We walked on.

I still had the smile on my face when a thrush presented in our path.  So engrossed in the worm, we were almost upon him before we registered.  Then only to perch on the low wall separating the road from the grassland by the river bank.  I admired.  Held Karl on a very short lead.  When I looked back, the bird had returned to the important business of the day!

continued...5th installment...the three of us boxed!

Nothing could have prepared me for what seemed to happen overnight at five months. My pride in how well they were both trained would burst forth when we were out together walking to heel! Imagine the mortification when I found myself being pulled about by a force of nature looking to all in sundry as at best untamed!

Sex hormones combined with new found physical strength and full on teething catapulted the three of us into outer space. I cried ‘help’ to the market for training aids. The harness was only effective with two leads because of his strength at the head. There were days when it was such an achievement to get back home that I wondered if I would have the courage to take him out again ever!By day I ate humble pie. I woke up at night sweating at the prospect of another day of him! At first I was uneasy when the vet stepped in because I wanted to keep him intact! The experienced professional enlightened me. He said ‘if he gets a taste of it he's lost forever’.


Why would I want to struggle to manage a frustrated dog who would need a strong man handler half my age in the wide open spaces of Aughrim to live his manhood?

Before herself I was Bernardine Cantwell, 58, intolerant of fools but even tempered! Now, scrap the even tempered! It seemed that this hitherto unknown long dormant volcano started spitting hot molten rocks. It was the way she might look at me with that air of lofty defiance in the eyes that men find drop dead gorgeous on the street that ignited me! I was piggy in the middle of a pair from hell!

Read More. Next week!


my diary

see the funny side...


Kirstin and I watched a collie leap out of an ancient brick red Volkswagon van at the bridge over the river.  All the appearance of being a dab hand at it!  Later on 2 women stopped to admire him on the opposite bank, stick in mouth, in and out of the river.  Looking like he owned the place!

As we walked on I found myself remembering the picture that drew my attention on the newspaper rack in Tesco this afternoon.  On closer inspection I recoiled.  A heron with a duckling in his beak made the front page of the Irish Times.  Now I'm chiding myself for my squeamishness.  Greatly admire the heron.  Ducks delight me.  This is the way of the natural world.  Pragmatism keeps me in check.  

It was the fearless purity on the innocent face of the duckling on the verge of consumption that stayed with me.


april 15 - 21


Early evening.  As Kirstin and I turned from Rathgar into Brighton road, we could hear the soft purr of an electric lawnmower.  Then, suddenly our senses were filled with the delightful aroma of freshly cut grass.  It's the simple, old fashioned things that lift the soul!


Bizaar!  A man was on his hunkers fumbling in his ruck sack on the opposite pavement on Harold's Cross Road.  Traffic.  Abruptly, and entirely without warning, this became the most important thing on the planet to Karl?

Kirstin and I were walking on Orwell Road.  A woman with 2 Westies in tow crossed suddenly  in front of us from the opposite footpath.  She hadn't seen us.  She offered to stand in to let us pass.  The courtesy made my evening.  I declined acknowledging that she had 2 dogs to manage and I was intending to cross over to the other side anyway.  As they turned into Zion road, I delighted in the alert face of the Westie who looked back.

As we made our way home down Rathgar avenue, 2 seemingly identical small furry dogs jumped enthusiastically into the car boot.  A man carefully tucked them in with a blanket before shutting.  That's how dogs used to travel when I was a girl.


This morning, as Karl and I approached, the 19-month-old Golden Retriever lay down at the feet of his owner on the footpath.  'I hate when Karl does that!' I said.  She told me that he's been at it since early puppyhood. 

On the Rathfarnham road in warm hazy sunshine, she reminisced that her parents had a dog like Karl. His name was Clyde.  Called after the river in Scotland from where they hailed. 

All Karl and the Retriever wanted to do was play together! 

PIC  Ruyan Ayten
Dog says...'This is what stands between me and total world dominance.  What rotten luck!'

I set out to end up with two independent dogs. The key was for each to be comfortable alone. This turned out to be easy. Phew! Fact is in an urban environment I couldn't manage walking the pack so it was one of them and me from early days. While she enjoyed her little piece of me he adapted to depending on himself for company in the garden. They sleep in separate giant crates beside each other. His is pristine.

While dining outside Voici restaurant in Rathmines in early Autumn with one of them the waiter remarked ‘I wish my friends would get as excited when they see me!’ One of the joys is to watch them greet each other after spending some time apart! It is as good as it gets in an emotional life!

They travel by trike locally, at first together but now apart. Reason. His 26kgs puts me to the pin of my collar! At first they brought the place down barking their heads off but now they sit regally enjoying the view like the quintessential lord of the manor! It's together in the car to the beach!

Read More. Next week!

continued...4th installment...the three of us boxed!

see the funny side...

april 08 - 14


This evening Kirstin & I watched 2 ducks flapping animatedly in the river.  Across on the opposite bank 2 dogs were barking their heads off.  A man threw a stick.


Karl likes walking in the rain as long as he has his raincoat on.  Maybe it's me who feels he's well tucked under the turquoise.

Today he off-loaded shortly after we had passed the only dedicated dog litter bin for miles on our route.  Decision required re disposal.  Opted to keep going and carry to Rathgar village.

I trained my dogs to walk on my left.  As they grew up I rowed in with their distinct preference to cross behind me.  Feels as close to off-lead walking as it gets!

This morning I was carrying my water bottle and the the black bag.  Each time Karl crossed behind it was a juggling act of grand proportions.  Another wicked thought.  Is it me or does he seem to cross more often when I'm like this?

Leave the water bottle on a nearby ledge.  Cross.  Pick up the water bottle.  Move on.  Cross again!

Remembered how it was when I was training him.  Water bottle at home.  Black bag furtively slipped into a wheelie bin that looked unattended at that moment!

Hated myself for doing it.  No choice.  Needed both hands free to curb the sheer spontaneous power of the Boxer boy!

The trial  and tribulation of dominance!

my diary

My Boxers quite often bring to mind the sight of young horses frolicking playfully in a paddock.  This evening Kirstin seemed to react similarly to the sudden presence of a motorised scooter on the footpath behind.  The second time this week.  She refused to countenance it.  We halted.  Waited.  Watched the woman pass by.  Where I come from, footpaths were reserved for pedestrians, tiny tots on tricycles and pedal cyclists walking with their bikes!

...like high energy horses frolicking in a paddock...PIC Sheri Hooley


Sometimes I fear that my behaviour walking out with Karl could be misinterpreted as unfriendly!  This morning we encountered a pleasant young woman with a Jack Russell type on a long lead while she was cleaning up the off-load.  Instantly I identified the situation as a trigger to Karl to suddenly stall stubbornly!  Grateful for a short break in the traffic I swiftly navigated him across the road.  I would have liked to respond to her comment re the loveliness

of Karl.

Later on the Dundrum road, Karl spotted the man who pulled him out of the river a few months ago.  The usual alert.  Sudden stop.  The man was approaching us.  As Karl tried hard not to jump up, we talked about his new 5-year-old from the pound who didn't share his owner's liking for Karl last week when we met.  He said that his calm 11-year-old bitch who has seen it all is the dominant positive influence on the new dog.  They get on like a house on fire.  We marvelled at the sharp memory of dogs!  I was chuffed by his compliments re 'dogs in dublin'!  Agreed that the primary purpose of the eMagazine is to entertain.  A feel good meeting to kick start the week!


This evening Kirstin met an English resident here with his 12-month-old pup on Rathgar Avenue.  The rust curly coat framed a curious face to delight all in sundry.  Kirstin took a sniff and straight out with the paw to play.  The man said that he had a Boxer when he was a boy.


continued...3rd installment...the three of us boxed!

Eleven months on the planet, I watched my ‘delicates' cover the wide open spaces of the beach on regular trips to Brittis Bay. Their joy is intoxicating. I find myself reflecting on why we succeeded so far…..

Note to self

1. Time - Full on to each dog everyday

2. Organisation - Must be one step ahead all the time. Otherwise overthrown!

3. Absolute commitment - Remember the cone confusion crisis after neutering  and the fear that his barking would annoy neighbours.

4. Perseverance - Just when I thought I had made it my boy succeeded in delivering a late complication the like of which the experienced vet had not seen before. Contrary to his sister who was stoic in the aftermath of major surgery a few weeks earlier he proceeded to recklessly eat himself! When valium proved ineffective, bleary eyed at best, he was consigned to the ‘State Pen' for three nights. With nothing else to do he set about impressing the vet!

5. Patience - I waited for the human bond to develop. It had to be earned! At first it felt very much them and me. The dominant bitch was in charge of the canines. I only stepped in when she set her sights on taking charge of me!

6. See the funny side! - These pups bring the ‘Briget Jones' in me bubbling up to the surface like a geyser! At times when I find myself batting defensively and they have me well and truly on the back foot the only thing left to do is laugh! Then, they look at me in that slightly incomprehensible way that makes me feel well and truly idiotic!

Read More. Next week!


april 01 - 07


Karl met the man who played with him on the river bank a few months ago.  Of course Karl fell in!  The kind man pulled all 25kgs of him out.

Today he was walking a sharp 5 year old he rescued from the pound.  The dog did not like the look of Karl!

Interestingly, he lay down on the grass, ears tweaked and lapped up the compliments his owner and I heaped upon him.  Karl looked on.

Life may have begun rough for this dog but now he's landed on this feet!

This evening Kirstin took a bite out of the logo on her promotional vest!


Today Karl gave his paw to a woman on the Dundrum road.  Left me speechless!  I hadn't taught it!

On the way home the pedestrian light didn't happen at Rathgar cross.  Karl and I got ourselves stranded in the middle.  Don't panic Bernardine!  Waited for a big enough break in the oncoming traffic to get across.  When it did come Karl dug his heels in, in the middle of the road.  As I hauled his 28kgs to safety a wicked thought struck me.  He carefully selected the moment to cause the maximum  embarrassment to me!  How calculating is that!


Dizzy day between caring for dogs and preparing Easter meal.  Heating up the delights of Butler's Pantry really!  In the middle of it all, thinking that I might be extra efficient, I opened the washing machine to take out the dog blankets it washed earlier.  Agast to find Fairy non-bio gel all over my shoes!  Absent minded me forgot to hit the start button this morning!


Jumper weather again!  Karl encountered a vet on Rathgar Avenue this morning.  They met for the first time 13 months before.  On that occasion Karl emerged from a cat carrier.  A bit irregular for a Boxer!  Today he is promoting dogs in dublin!

This evening Kirstin met a 9 year old red Boxer bitch on Orwell Road.  Her owner's comment about Kirstin - it's unusual to see a Boxer in training!  I explained the purpose of her high viz vest with logo was to promote a new eMagazine!  Felt that sadness again!  How she would love to be in training!  She is so cut out to  work!


Today we took our first trip out together in the trike since the launch of dogs in dublin.  Tried before but between one wheel and another, abandon was the only option.  Today sweet success!

Expected to find it tougher peddling with the duo now.  Pleasantly surprised.  Admittedly, there was a hill that left me on the breathless side!  Like to think of it as controlled aerobic exercise!  A woman passed on her bike at Stratford exclaiming 'now I've seen it all!'.  She proceeded to stop and take out her phone to capture the scene for her mother!  Smile!

continued...2nd installment...the three of us boxed!

That's what I say to this marketing stuff!
Wednesday at the Dodder
Birthday Shot!

my diary

see the funny side...

Germany is the ancestral home. The Boxer in its modern form was developed in the 19th Century and its ancestry is thought to include mastiff-type dogs such as the Great Dane and the Bulldog.

This is a working dog, used today as a police and military search-and-rescue dog and for guard work, the consequence of its endurance and courage.

The litter arrived in the world in Aughrim to a horse household on the 19th of December 2019 boasting two males and five females. I eagerly agreed the purchase of the boys, brindle and red. Things went belly up when the red was flattened by his mother shortly afterwards.

While I back myself to find ways to handle the ‘bull’ in the male I come up short on tolerance when confronted with the guile of the female! So it was with some trepidation that I visited the breeder to select my girl from their five. What I knew for certain was that I wanted a litter pair to play together!

Read More. Next week!

see the funny side...

my diary

Original on Transparent.png

april diary 

01 - 07

updates 08 

A week or so before I collected my pair of pups I read this!

‘Don't purchase two puppies together, even though some breeders remark how wonderful this can be. It's not. It simply makes training much more difficult.

The two pups will form a little pack and constantly compete with one another. Their natural attention will not be focused on you.’

My heart sank!

I needed a challenge in my life. The Kennel Club definition appealed.

‘This clever, loyal, exuberant, and fun-loving dog is ideal for their energetic owner. ’I was attracted to their  proud upstanding attitude, the forward thrusting jaw  but  most of all the life-long playfulness. I was undaunted by the fact that ‘this highly intelligent dog can be a handful to train.' Read More.Next Week!