Lisa Byrne on why it’s great to be a dog owner in Yorkshire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 01 September 2016

Lisa Byrne

Lisa Byrne


It took a while, but my dream of owning my own pooch finally came true (twice!)


Dogs. Don’t you just love them? We are such a dog obsessed county that one of the world’s most popular breeds, the Yorkshire terrier, was named after us. Like most of the nation I am a self-confessed dog-a-holic. However, it didn’t feel that way at 6am this morning when I woke to find our five-month-old cocker spaniel Merlin munching his way through a very precious family photo album - with a black and white image of my late granny hanging from his jowls. The rascal gave me a startled look before escaping out the back door. Our darling boy had also knocked over a bin and devoured its foul, rotting contents.

I have two dogs, both cocker spaniels, naughty Merlin and the saintly nine-year-old Diggerley (named after a character from a horror film; don’t ask), who rolls his eyes up to heaven as if to beg God to rid him of this heinous, mischievous pup. But I love them both dearly.

My canine addiction began at a very young age. One of my earliest memories is banging the lounge door repeatedly, demanding my parents buy me a puppy. What a brat! I used to envy all my friends who had dogs and just after I learned to drive, I nearly crashed copious times while ogling a four-legged friend.

My doggy dream of owning a pooch finally came true at the age of 37 when, over a romantic Christmas dinner, my husband Davey presented me with a jewellery box. Inside was a glittering faux diamond encrusted dog tag engraved with the name Diggerley. Once it dawned on me that I was getting a puppy I hyperventilated and collapsed under the table. Diggerley went on to become the official OK! Magazine mascot, appearing in countless fashion shoots where he flirted outrageously with besotted models.

Merlin and DiggerleyMerlin and Diggerley

But my first pup hasn’t all been chocolate box perfect. He has a penchant for stealing illicit sips of my husband’s pint of Guinness when his back is turned to enjoy the craic. Also, Diggerley accidentally induced my pregnancy by breaking his leg while chasing a squirrel up a tree. When I heard he was seriously ill, the shock brought on my labour - during which I had no care for anything apart from the dog.

After moving to the Yorkshire countryside, I became increasingly broody for another pet pooch and constantly badgered my poor husband. Thankfully, the nagging worked and I was lucky enough to receive a chocolate brown puppy as a birthday present.

However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being driven demented by our new arrival. Like drippy parents of a newborn, we stupidly let Merlin into our bed as soon as he was brought home. Big, BIG mistake. As well as ‘doing his business’ everywhere, we’ve also so far lost two pairs of gorgeous nude LK Bennett slingbacks, my daughter’s sparkly Lelli Kelly sandals, my husband’s Timberland boots, a first edition of Tennyson poetry and an assorted mix of waste paper bins, lamp shades and even a Gothic tapestry that I bought from York Minster. He is a greedy pooch with very unusual tastes.

This might sound like hell on earth, but the fabulous parts far outweigh all the cleaning up and loss of treasured items. We relish taking the dogs across our back garden into Bilbrough woods. We’re so utterly spoilt for walks in this county. Other firm favourites include Towton battlefield, York Knavesmire and the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. I’m hoping this month to venture further afield to a dog-friendly beach such as Saltburn or Robin Hood’s Bay ( and pop in for a proper fish and chip supper and a refreshing drink in one of a host of pooch-loving establishments. As long as Merlin doesn’t join his brother in becoming a sneaky Guinness thief, all should be well. And if Davey gets cross, I shall just remind him that dog backward spells God!

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