Meet Game of Thrones direwolves Odin and Thor, the world’s most famous dogs.
More than 200,000 fans have visited the four-legged stars from Co Down since the Northern Inuits appeared in season one of the hit HBO show as Summer and Grey Wind.
“Kit Harrington (GoT’s Jon Snow) really likes them a lot and the last time he saw Ross he said to hug them for him because he missed them,” William Mulhall, who runs Direwolf Tours with his brothers, Ross and Caelan, and dad William Sr, told Sunday Life.
“Isaac Hempstead-Wright, who plays Bran Stark, wanted the dogs to take home, and I met Theon Greyjoy (played by Alfie Allen) in Belfast one day and he offered me the chance to sell them to him.”
The animals’ popularity has led to an 800% increase in the number of husky-type dogs being adopted.
“Last week, we met The Mountain, who loves Thor and Odin,” William told Sunday Life. “He asked us to let him know when any pups come up as he wants one.
“We also met Katie Price a few weeks ago. She is a big dog fan and wants a famous dog like one of ours.
“We’re looking for Odin to have pups by Christmas, so we’re trying to get that sorted. That’ll make me a granddad!”
The highly anticipated finale of the show’s seventh season aired on Monday.
William and Ross have both featured as extras and are hoping to further capitalise on the drama’s success.
Direwolf Tours is based at the National Trust’s Castle Ward estate, near Strangford, the home of Winterfell. They offer visits to the many GoT sites across Northern Ireland.
“Odin and Thor are the most famous dogs in the world now, which is cool,” said William.
“We just wanted cool dogs, we didn’t think this would happen. When they were a few weeks old, I got a phone call from the breeder saying that some TV show wanted my dogs in it. I was like, ‘Cool, what’s the show about?’ He replied, ‘I don’t know, swords and shields and stuff’, and now here we are.
“They started using CGI (computer-generated imagery) after season one because direwolves get to the size of horses in GoT but these guys are the originals.
“The CGI guys take different parts of Odin and Thor and replicate them in the new seasons.
“They mainly do fashion and modelling shoots now, as well as the tours, and they’re getting pretty popular on social media.
“We’re going to more comic conventions, and hopefully we’ll get them to America. They have lots of fans there.”
On September 24, the dogs will be the stars of the show at Castle Ward’s Winterfell Festival.
“They’re so popular that 90 people turned up to their seventh birthday party,” said William. “They had cake and fans sent over presents from the US. People send in pictures that they’ve drawn of Odin and Thor all the time. It’s amazing.
“They’ve even got a sock line, which you can buy with their faces on. They’ve been flying off the shelves, which is great.”
To stay in shape, Odin and Thor each eat a chicken and a half per day, raw meat, bones and dog porridge mixed with vegetables. They run around three miles daily and have two fellow Northern Inuits to play with. They also have a sofa to snooze on between jobs and they wake up to views of the Irish Sea from their bedroom, which has a balcony.
“They’re just really happy dogs,” said William. “Getting to work with your dogs beats working nine to five in an office!”
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