Unlike most dogs, you won’t catch Irwin chowing down on a nice, juicy steak anytime soon.
Seventeen-year-old Liam White, Irwin’s owner, received the Labrador Retriever–Golden Retriever mix from the United Kingdom’s Guide Dogs for the Blind Association a year ago. White and his parents, Tracey and John, saw right away the effects of Irwin’s unusual food allergy.
“If he does eat meat Irwin gets rashes on his paws and he can’t walk properly, which is a problem for a guide dog who has to go everywhere with me,” White says.
Irwin’s symptoms diminished only when White removed all meat products from his dog’s diet.
“Most dog owners would give them the occasional sausage or chop as a treat, but that’s not for Irwin,” White explains. Instead, the Lab–Golden mix thrives on a special food mix made of potato. “Irwin, we think, is vegetarian by design which is really funny when you think about it because dogs are supposed to be carnivores,” White adds.
Having a vegetarian dog has its benefits, White says. “If we are having a Sunday roast there’s no chance of him begging and if a bit of meat drops on the floor he just ignores it.”
Despite his dog’s special dietary restrictions, White has nothing but wonderful things to say about Irwin, who turns 3-years-old later this month. “He’s absolutely brilliant,” White says, “all my family loves him.”
White says that having Irwin in his life has opened up many possibilities he might not have had otherwise.
“I could do nothing before, besides going out with mum and dad to do a bit of shopping, but he’s transformed my life,” White explains. Irwin spends his days leading White, a student at Barnsley College in South Yorkshire, around the university campus.
“I wouldn’t change him for anything,” White adds.