Nothing says adventure like a dog in the back seat of your car.

It’s that tongue-out, twinkle-eyed panting in the rearview mirror, anticipating the next road-trip stop. Ireland has become an increasingly dog-friendly nation of late – not least in 2020, when so many of us are staycationing and the availability of kennels and would-be dog-sitters has slumped. Keen to see how pet-friendly travel has changed during the pandemic, I took my own canine sidekick, Vipp, for a trip out west – for a bit of adventure and, hopefully, to enjoy a little bonding along the way.

Vipp, a seven-year-old American golden retriever, was rehomed with my family in 2015, his career as a guide dog having been cut short at puppy school. With that early retirement, he quickly adapted to having a travel writer in his pack and, as I’m always keen to promote a dog-friendlier Ireland, he’s had to deal with me being a bit of a “stage dad” over the years, too. He’s appeared on everything from Ireland AM to Today with Maura and Dáithí – a leash slip-up outside RTÉ studios once even saw him run amok down the set of Fair City.

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