Talking animals

This blog I’m talking animals, just like in my children’s books; there’s talking animals everywhere!

In each of the books the animals are all the stars of the show. It’s an effort to educate children’s about our amazing wildlife here in Ireland but it’s also super fun dreaming up these characters! Click here to download the free Irish Animal Explorer Guide for your Little Explorer!

Did you know though that these animals aren’t just pulled out of the sky? There’s usually a story behind each of them and I’m going to share some with you.

As a parent and general animal lover, I’ve always been interested in watching children interact with animals. I am always amazed by very young children and how primal they are in communicating with different species.

Children and Animals

Explorer Guide Free Download
Free Irish Animal Explorer Guide

I’ve noticed from around six months old a child will smile and try to touch (grab!) any animal they come into contact with be it a dog, cat, horse etc. They’ll usually make little squeals of excitement if they get a reaction from their efforts. This makes them more curious and determined to reach out and touch again.

Young boy and his cat
Joseph and Murphy – the boy and his cat!

This being said, I’m a huge advocate of children interacting with animals from as early an age as possible. Obviously appropriate animals, not a lioness or crocodile but perhaps a nice common domesticated species!

Learning to walk is a fantastic milestone in every humans existence and I’ve seen two instances where an animal has helped out. Our old dog Gary helped my niece Meavis and daughter Layla learn to walk. Bless him he genuinely had the patience of a saint! He’d move over to where they were sitting, they would grab onto him to pull themselves to standing. Then he would move as slow as he could forcing them to walk along side, holding tightly to his shaggy coat.

The bond between them was tangible and I really believe their EQ benefited from this early interaction.

This leads nicely to the animals in my books.

Mans best friend

Our dog Gary 

It’d be rude not to start with Ruairi Magory, Johnny’s faithful hound who’s by his side in each and every adventure. We’ve always had dogs around us growing up. They would usually help “mind” us by always accompanying us through the fields and bogs. It was only fitting that the bolde Johnny had one too.


Ruairi was actually my sisters idea after a family brain dump session! He’s based on our gorgeous dog Gary who unfortunately was stolen from us a few years ago.

I think you’ll agree that Kim did a fantastic job bringing Gary to life in the books for us.


My Equine Best Friend

Cob show jumping
Dusty my first cob and best friend

In terms of childhood impact, “Johnny Magory and the Wild Water Race” (the third book in the series) features another truly adored pet of mine. Dusty was my very first cob and hunting horse. Somebody I owe much of my life learning’s too in terms of conquering fear and trusting another being with my life.

As big and chunky as he was, Dusty was a mover and extremely elegant in the show jumping arena; but when we were out hunting, that’s where he really came into his own. As an early teen I was a little slip of a thing when the hunts-man would call for “the young Leeson girl and the cob”. We would then lead the hunt through the most challenging of ditches and landscape. I used to be terrified! However I had absolute trust in Dusty and knew he was clever enough to get us out of even the most trickiest of situations. Boy with horse and dog

Between you and me, sometimes I would just grab his thick black mane, close my eyes and envisage us back in the field safe and sound! Something I still do to this day when I feel I’m to afraid to try something new, I remember this and just close my eyes; feel the fear and do it anyways.

There are lots of more stories behind the animals in the books but they are for another day.

Let them be friends!

Ultimately I believe children should be reared with animals wherever possible or at least know how to interact with them. Seeing children who don’t know how to pet a dog for instance makes me a little sad. They don’t know the companionship and pleasure they could get from this simple touch and interaction.

Encourage Little Explorers to reap the benefits the companionship with an animal can bring.


P.S – Have you registered for our annual National Heritage Week event on Saturday 18th July at Ballynafagh Lake in Kildare?

Click here to do so.

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