President Higgins announces death of his dog Síoda

With Bród, the Bernese mountain dog has welcomed numerous dignitaries to the Áras

A picture of President Michael D Higgins with Síoda issued with news of the dog’s death. Photograph: Áras an Uachtaráin

A picture of President Michael D Higgins with Síoda issued with news of the dog’s death. Photograph: Áras an Uachtaráin

 

Síoda, one of President Michael D Higgins’ well-known dogs, has died.

One of a pair of Bernese mountain dogs, Síoda with Bród had been a popular double act at Áras an Uachtaráin welcoming dignitaries and members of the public to the President’s residence.

A spokesman for the Mr Higgins confirmed on Saturday that Síoda had died.

The news was first detailed in an Áras newsletter, which said “sadly we must report that Síoda has passed away after a short illness”.

The dogs are a popular feature of regular garden parties thrown by President Higgins, weaving in and out of the tables to the delight of guests, who clamour to get a photograph with one of the beloved canines.

They also regularly make appearances during official visits and events.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle in July 2018 at Áras an Uachtaráin with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina and their dogs Bród and Síoda. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle in July 2018 at Áras an Uachtaráin with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina and their dogs Bród and Síoda. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

No matter the company, the dogs would often be known to saunter up to Mr Higgins for a belly rub or scratch behind the ears.

Speaking about the pair previously, the President said “the dogs are not merely ice-breakers, they’re also a great source of wisdom, and they must be protected from the stresses of the Anthropocene.”

Síoda was a female, Bród is a male. President Higgins has had dogs all his life. He previously had another Bernese mountain dog during his earlier years in the Phoenix Park called Shadow.

During the 2018 presidential election, Independent candidate Peter Casey provoked controversy by questioning Mr Higgins’ expenses in office, claiming “your dog grooming bills are paid for” during a radio debate.

The President’s campaign later clarified all costs of the dogs’ upkeep were met from Mr Higgins’ own funds, and the claims from the Donegal businessman were “false and ludicrous”.

Bród and Síoda also have an unofficial Twitter fan page, @BrodHiggins, which has over 18,000 followers on the social media platform.