It’s an eyecatching sight, a grown man sitting in a miniature carriage being hauled by two dogs. Motorists are rubbing their eyes lately in disbelief as they pass by Mick Johnson out on his daily jaunt on the Dublin Road, Portlaoise, hauled by his beloved purebred American Akita dogs, Pal and Fluff.
“Not a day goes by but about five photos get taken, there are photos gone all over the world,” says a delighted Mick, a retired haulage driver who lives in Collier’s View.
Every day he hitches the one year-old dogs up in the sleigh he made out of parts of a go-kart and some broom handles, and takes a trip down as far as Portlaoise Prison and back.
He says the dogs love the trip, whose breed are used in Alaska to pull sleds across the snow.
“I knew they were bred for towing sleds, so I decided to make it to show people what they can do,” said Mick, who originally had a farm in Luggacurren, and trained sheepdogs for many years.
“They are actually thriving better since I started doing it. If I walk them without the sled now, they really pull me along,” he laughs.
His life has changed for the better since he bought his beloved pair of dogs from a registered Kilkenny breeder.
“They are wonderful, kind, faithful dogs. If someone offered me thousands, I wouldn’t sell them,” says Mick, who hopes to breed pups from them next year.
In the meantime, his customised ride complete with a large Laois umbrella is getting lots of positive reaction, and he isn’t ruling out taking part in the next St Patrick’s Day parade, where his dogs would surely go down a treat.
“They could be handy going for a few pints too,” laughs Mick.