He cuts quite a dash on the lawns of Palace Barracks, Co Down, blond hair flowing in the wind, stopping only to sniff a tree and lift a rather long leg.
Brian Boru X is a soldier like no other: pure bred Irish Wolfhound, iconic mascot of Royal Irish Regiment, mood enhancer and manâs best friend.
Last week after training he was mostly free of duties and uniform at the high security Holywood barracks.
But on Saturday, he was leading the soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment from the front with his with his handler, Wolfhound Major Robert Moore, as the Duke of York, regimental colonel-in-chief, presented the Royal Irish with new colours – or flag.
And as expected this two year hound was on best behaviour, regal head held high, deep chest covered by his No1 uniform, his strides long and free flowing.
Nicknamed Conri, for Wolf King, this Irish Wolfhound has a very special place inside the regiment and his handlerâs home.
Wolfhound Major Moore explained: âWe all love him. Thereâs just something about this big dog that makes people smile.
âHeâs still quite young and will probably fill out a bit more but right now he weighs just over 12 stones and on his hind legs he stands at 6ft 3â, he can jump 7ft 2â.
âHe lives at home with me and my wife and daughter whoâs just about to turn two and without him Iâd have left the army.â
Major Moore, 30, had decided to set a plan in place to retire from military life three years ago but the chance of a new role as the Wolfhound Major opened up and his career took a different direction.
He said: âIâd always had big dogs in my life so the chance to look after the new mascot Wolfhound was just too good an opportunity to turn down. I applied for the post, got the promotion and Conri has changed everything.
âHe was born on January 11, 2016 at Nutstown Irish Wolfhounds, north of Dublin and made his first appearance with the regiment was at Old Soldiersâ Day on June 4, 2016, the second anniversary of the death of Brian Boru IX – Finn.
âIâd got him when he was about four months old and he had been living a family pack life so we had to start the training right away.
âHe took to Army life well and knows the routines inside out. We train every day but when I put on my No1 uniform and he has his on, something changes in us both. We both walk two inches taller. He picks up on the atmosphere, he loves it.
âIf he needs to go to the loo while we are on parade we have it down to a look from him, or he head buts me in the thigh and we step out.
âHe knows how to behave in all circumstances we put him in and I believe, out of all the regiments, we at the Royal Irish have the best mascot in the British Army in Conri. Thereâs a lot of competition, and Iâm biased – but, well we win.
âBut heâs also a good down-time pet too. He is spirited and a bit mad at times and just loves my daughter. She is at that hectic, toddling stage but Conri takes it all in his stride and deals with her with great patience.
“Heâs a sight hound which means his instinct is to hunt and kill, but most of his hunting is the counter tops in the kitchen which are just the right height for him.
âMy daughter now feeds him his giant dog biscuits, one at a time which slows him down which is good news because like all hounds heâd be prone to bloat and that could be deadly.
âI have full responsibilty for Conri and I know and love all his quirks. He doesnât like the rain, heâs very stubborn, he doesn’t like the dark either and sleeps with the cooker light on and he’d would chose the settee over a walk in the rain. Conri is quite emotional and petted on me, which is pretty typical of hounds.â
And that tendency in hounds got him into all sorts of bother when he was eight months old.
With his handler recovering from surgery, Conri was sent to live temporarily with his breeder outside Dublin to be cared for over a number of weeks.
Major Moore explained: âHis health deteriorated fast. He lost weight, was fading and generally sick but not even the specialists at the School of Veterinary Surgery in Dublin could work out what was wrong with him.
âThey tested him for meningitis and loads of other conditions and diseases. He was slowly slipping away but all the tests proved negative.
âThey vets now believe he had a broken heart. The big fella was pining for me and the life heâd had and as soon as he was back with us, he got better very quickly. He might be the Wolf King but heâs a big softie and loves cuddles and belly rubs.
âAnd he pretty much loves everyone around him – unless youâre a rabbit and then youâre doomed.”
The soldier is the first Wolfhound Major to complete the Patrol Dog Handlersâ Course and the Kennel Managersâ Course in the British Army and the pair were recently awarded the first Welfare Award.
He said: âMy career took a completely different turn when Conri moved into my regiment, my home and my heart.
â Heâs my best mate and constant companion.When he is retired, thankfully Iâll be given the first chance to keep him. Iâd never be parted from him. We’re in this together – for life.â
Brian Boruâs daily routine
Brian Boru has :
History of the Brian Boru Wolfhounds :
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