Belfast Telegraph

Pooches on parade as Akitas prove a big hit

By Rebecca Black

The Twelfth may be a pageant of colour and music but two snow white dogs from Limavady have become a favourite with visitors.

Japanese Akitas Angel and Ghost - also known fondly as Ulster's Marching Dogs - are the only canines known to have become an annual attraction at Orange parades.

They have become so popular that owner Sam Dickson is taking them to two different demonstrations today to satisfy demand.

They will take part in the morning parade in Belfast, starting out from Templemore Avenue in the east of the city, before travelling to Coleraine for the afternoon parade there.

Sam and the dogs have already featured in 36 parades this year and were due to take part in another last night before the festivities today. They will also be going to Scarva for the traditional July 13 demonstration.

They will each get a burger in the Field as a treat following the long walk.

Sam said he gets up to three requests each day via his Facebook page for the dogs to attend events, and has taken part in parades in Scotland and England too. Next year, they're set to travel to France, Belgium and Wales.

"I was up at a parade in Belfast the other night, we were standing with a friend and she just couldn't believe how many people knew us, me a man from Limavady," he laughed. "So many were walking past and saying 'Hi Sam' or more like 'Hi Ghost and Angel'. It's all about them. It's crazy that two dogs can mean so much to people - we have grown men coming over asking for a photograph with them."

Sam, who's not a member of the Orange Order or a marching band, explained it all began by chance: "It all started one night when I was taking her (Angel) for a walk and a parade was going along. Someone said you should join in, then a few days later I got a phone call and it all snowballed from there."

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