Triggs’ epic tail: More than just Roy’s roving pal

Her parentage was uncertain and her burying place unknown.

She leaves no notable messages in her wake and no statues mark her passing. Even the exact date of her demise remains obscure, and we are unaware of any offspring.

Yet the news that she’s gone will still give everyone pause this morning.

A couple of years ago reports of her death were greatly exaggerated, but now it has been confirmed by her former owner: Yesterday Roy Keane told the world that Triggs, his labrador, died a few weeks ago.

Triggs! Hearing the name is probably enough to transport you back a decade, to a time of soaring property prices and rising employment, and in particular to a bizarre few days when an entire country wondered whether Keane, then Republic of Ireland captain, would return to his team’s preparations for the imminent World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

These musings were usually sparked by the latest footage of Keane. And at that point in time that latest footage invariably featured Keane out and about in his neighbourhood walking Triggs, whose blissful happiness with her returned master was a marked visual counterpoint to the turmoil among supporters.

Those suburban byways of northern England appeared in a thousand photographs around that time, always with Keane and Triggs in the foreground.

Before 2002, Triggs was an obscure canine, unknown to the world at large, but those pictures and footage of her and her manager, bouncing along the footpaths on a daily basis, made her famous.

It was the best of times, the worst of times for those watching the events unfold, which meant the whole nation: Practically every night the only update on Keane’s intentions was Triggs’s mood, as seen in the newsreel of that day’s walk.

The dog was romping around her owner and woofing playfully one day, for instance: Surely the Manchester United captain would be heading shortly to the (equally famous) “plane on the tarmac at Manchester Airport”?

Conversely, if Triggs was subdued or in bad humour on another outing, amateur psychologists inferred that the dog was picking up on Keane’s mood, and the Corkman was unlikely to rejoin his colleagues.

There were all sorts of offshoots in the field of Triggsology, which ranged from the notion that he-can’t-be-that-bad-after-all about her master, to sure-he’s-got-no-other-friends, also applied to her master. It was surprising the RSPCA didn’t get involved, given the sheer amount of energy the dog expended on those walks,

(The less considered field of study in this whole area was the fascination with Keane’s apparently endless supply of plain white T-shirts, of course.)

Afterwards, Triggs popped into the public consciousness every now and again, particularly when Saipan was revisited. A couple of years ago news broke that Triggs had passed away, but those rumours were flatly contradicted. Now, though Keane has made it official. She’s gone.

Not quite forgotten, though: Triggs’s memoirs will appear soon, a last bark from beyond the grave. Perhaps the golden one will tell us just how close her master came to returning to Saipan, or whether the prospect of one quick turn before teatime was just too attractive to turn down.

Either way, it should be a tail of our times.


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