Meet the 17-year-old dog lover with a huge ambition

I’m a sucker for a dog-friendly café. If I can take Bruce with me for a nice brew and piece of cake after a good walk, I’m happy. So when I heard about 17-year-old Nicole Welch’s dream to open a Paws for Coffee café, where people can go for coffee plus a cuddle with a canine, I was intrigued.

 

Nicole got her initial idea for her dog-friendly café, Paws for Coffee, from the cat cafés in Japan, which give punters somewhere to go for a cuppa and the option to stroke a resident cat while they’re enjoying their refreshments. Nicole’s plan is to open a doggy version in London, where dog lovers can congregate and non-dog owners can visit and feel the benefit of a cuddle with a four-legged friend.

Nicole and Millie Image supplied by Nicole Welch

Nicole and Millie
Image supplied by Nicole Welch

“I realise how much dogs can bring people together,” Nicole tells The Mighty Pooch. “Whether you have a dog or not, just talking about dogs can make you smile. That’s where I came up with the idea of a dog café, a place where you can meet puppies and other dog owners, and bring along your furry friend, all while enjoying yourself.”

Nicole is certainly a determined teenager, as she spent 10 years trying to persuade her mum, who suffers from a skin condition, to get a dog. “After extreme researching I managed to convince my mum that a hypoallergenic breed shouldn’t trigger her and we’ve now had Millie, a cockapoo, since the day she turned eight weeks old. The one thing that annoyed me though was not being able to take her out with us for a coffee or some lunch!”

Millie will be one of the resident dogs at the café when it eventually opens and will come to work with Nicole every day. “I intend to rescue another dog as soon as I can who will also be a resident pooch, while people with friendly, healthy dogs will be more than welcome to come in for tea and cake. Later down the line we’ll organise puppy parties and other events. I want to hold fundraising events to raise awareness with animal charities too.”

Far from simply a café where dogs are petted and cooed over, Nicole intends to use her enterprise to “make the world (well, maybe just London for now) a place that accepts dogs and looks after them, loves them and treats them as we would wish to be treated.” She hopes to work with people with disabilities, anxiety and depression, too, believing that dogs can really make a difference to people’s well-being.

“Dogs do wonders for people’s emotions. They can lower blood pressure, stop anxiety and just talking about them can put a smile on your face. My dream has always been to work with animals and, this way, I will also be encouraging others to love dogs the way I do!” She tells me.

Currently, Paws for Coffee is at the planning and funding stage. Nicole intends to use crowdfunding to finance the opening of the café, which uses donations to get ventures up and running. “The plan so far is to ensure we can secure all the right licences and insurances to make this possible and, from what we can see, it’s all green lights! A dog-friendly café is something that will really involve the community, so why not ask them to get behind it and contribute? I want the café to be as sincere as possible and to be a lovely, family-orientated place.”

So far, Nicole has had a good response to her enterprise, with many people pledging to donate money to get the venture off the ground. “In general, everyone has taken to this idea so well, that I can’t wait to open and meet them all! I know I can make this happen with everybody’s support.”

If you want to drop Nicole a line, she can be contacted at pawsforcoffeecafe@live.com or you can follow her on Twitter @PawsForCoffee.

Words: Aislinn Kelly

hello@themightypooch.co.uk

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