Of the many guests who stayed with us over the Christmas/New Year period, the one who proved the most disruptive was Aoife. In case you don’t know, Aoife, a Goldendoodle, is my son Daire and partner Mark’s dog. There she is above looking incredibly cute. As I was to discover, this is one female who is high maintenance.

Aoife travelled with Daire from New York, travelling business class no less. Ok, she didn’t have her own ticket, and sat by Daire’s side without a bother. Apparently the other passengers loved her.

My sister Lorraine and I drove to Dublin to collect Her Highness  Aoife from Dublin so Daire could hang around Dublin for another few days. She whined all the way home – Aoife, not Lorraine!

Let’s be honest: I like dogs, but I don’t want one. When I was younger we had a lovely dog called Sparky who tried to play with a bus and lost. We cried at his death and soon bought another cute dog called Princess. We made the mistake of not having her neutered and soon she had a litter of gorgeous puppies. Sadly and rather frighteningly, the vet diagnosed all of them with an incurable disease, so Princess and pups had to be put down. We were so traumatized we never got another dog.

It’s important to remember that Trish and I are home alone these days and loving it. Having reared Daire and Sarah Jane we love the freedom now they are gone, although I hasten to add we love them very much and they are always welcome back.

Which brings us to Aoife. Unlike humans, dogs like to mark their arrival in a new place by peeing on the floor – and she was no exception. We fed her and I took her for a walk. She didn’t like being restrained, refusing to move if she sniffed at something interesting. Picking up dog poo was not exactly what I had planned for my retirement. In the good old days you could just ignore it, but now you have to pick it up and carry it to the nearest dog poo bin. And then she did it again. Yikes!

The morning after Aoife’s arrival I woke to the sound of barking and whining. It was 6.40am! As soon as I came down she leaped on me with great affection, trying to lick my ear and hugging me. Once she calmed down she stood by the back door and I left her out to do her business, then fed her. I was exhausted, but Aoife was brimming with energy. Soon we were down in the Regional Park going for a stroll.

Mistake number one was not bringing a towel with me. She relished rolling in the mum, or splashing into streams, jumping up on me every now and then. I had forgotten to bring a towel, or put newspapers in the back of the car, so paid the price when we had to leave and she destroyed the back seat.

In fairness, Aoife is a lovely, friendly dog, but she is also just a pup of eight months. As such she is a lot more active than I, more so than I can deal with! She wanted to play with me when all I wanted to do was crash out. She had a few toys and we bought her more. Bits of them were scattered all over the back garden where she also dug three holes. The weather wasn’t great, so every time she came back from the garden she had to be cleaned, hard work for an old fella like myself.

On the plus side, Aoife fascinated people when I was out walking her. I had to stop for loads of unexpected chats with strangers. If you’re a single guy or lady I’d suggest buying a cute critter like Aoife is a better option than Tinder. I also met neighbors and friends. I kept Aoife busy by throwing balls and having her fetch them.

The worst moment was when she found poo and decided to roll in it. The smell was excruciating in the car on the way home, so I decided the best solution was give her a shower. I expected her to resist, but instead she stood there and allowed me hose her down and dry her afterwards.

Apart from dealing with the early rise each morning, the worst part of living with Aoife was learning to leave her alone for a couple of hours while we did something, such as head to our local bar for a meal. It didn’t help that Trish was ill during Christmas, but after a bout of cabin fever we headed off half worried about her. We shouldn’t have. She was fine.

Yesterday, I drove Aoife to Dublin and she flew back to the US this morning. Our house has been scrubbed clean of all signs of her presence, and I slept like a log last night. Unfortunately, the back garden looks like a disaster area. It needs some love from me, but I’m not going near it for a while.

Meantime, Daire is talking about bringing Aoife home for Sarah Jane’s wedding. There’s not a chance she’ll stay here!