The little Chihuahua with a hotel inspector’s job

Betsy the Chihuahua may only be a year old, but already she’s got one of the greatest jobs in the country – she tours the UK to discover the best dog-friendly hotels, pubs and places to visit. And she takes her pet parents along for the ride, as The Mighty Pooch found out.

Betsy the long-haired Chihuahua has really landed on her feet. In between the cuddles, walks and huge amounts of attention she receives for being, well, pretty darn cute, Betsy, along with her humans Zoe Worsley and Alex Parsons, is a hotel and restaurant reviewer. While Zoe and Alex may be the ones who actually put finger to keyboard and type up the reviews that feature on their Dog Friendly UK website, Betsy is the star of the outfit. If a place isn’t dog friendly and will not accommodate Betsy, then frankly it’s just not worth a visit. And on Dog Friendly UK, they’ll tell it like it is – there are only honest reviews to be found here.

Betsy Photograph copyright of Dog Friendly UK

Betsy
Photograph copyright of Dog Friendly UK

It seems that the UK needs a site like this – somewhere impartial for dog owners to discover where’s hot and where’s not when it comes to taking your pooch out on the town. A recent study concluded that Britain is actually the least dog-friendly country in Europe, with a meagre 6% of British retailers allowing dogs inside their precious walls. In fact, the study revealed that 73% of the 7.3 million dog owners in the UK don’t visit as many pubs, shops and cafes as they’d like to, simply because they don’t feel their dogs are welcome. So it’s clear that it pays to do your research before you head out with your dog to avoid disappointment – which is where Dog Friendly UK comes in very handy.

It all started when Zoe and Alex brought Betsy home last year as a puppy. They set about googling the best pubs and hotels to visit with their pooch – but no one website lived up to their expectations. “We found plenty of websites that were jam-packed with information, but none of them really reviewed the places in detail or they weren’t tailored to younger couples,” explains Zoe.

Photograph copyright of Dog Friendly UK

Photograph copyright of Dog Friendly UK

With their new puppy keen to accompany them on day trips and holidays, Zoe and Alex saw a gap in the blogging market and decided to fill it themselves. And so they created Dog Friendly UK to give impartial reviews of dog-friendly places and rate them out of 10 for their dog friendliness. “We thought it would be great to create a site which had more in-depth reviews for dog-friendly places to eat at and hotels to stay in. We like a little luxury ourselves, but money is tight for everyone at the moment, so we thought why not focus on travel in the UK and see what our own country has to offer for those with pets in tow.”

Zoe and Alex haven’t always been dog owners. In fact, until last year, they hadn’t even considered getting a dog. “We had never actually thought about getting a dog,” Zoe tells us, “until we went on a trip to Paris last year. We saw some puppies being sold in a shop and it really upset us. From that day on we started chatting about what it would be like to have a dog and, on our return to London, we saw an ad for Betsy. She looked too cute to resist, so we decided to pay her a visit and that was that. A few days later she was ours and we now appear to have become avid dog lovers!”

When it comes to rating dog-friendly places for their website, Zoe admits there are different levels of dog friendliness. “We consider dog friendly to mean that we are not just stuck in a corner somewhere, but have a bit of choice as to where we can sit in a venue. We totally understand that not everyone likes to eat with a dog in a dining room, but we really don’t like being relegated to a dark, damp corner near the toilets! It helps if the staff say hello and if they can provide a water bowl for dogs if asked. Providing doggie treats wins them extra bonus points!”

Photograph copyright of Dog Friendly UK

Photograph copyright of Dog Friendly UK

Betsy the Chihuahua’s favourite place to stay so far is Malmaison in Belfast. “I don’t think we have ever stayed in such a luxurious hotel,” Zoe says. “There was so much space for Betsy and her crate, and our room was so large she just loved exploring it. The majority, if not all, of the Malmaison hotels are dog friendly so, if you are ever stuck and there is one in town, then you know where to go. They provide beds for dogs if you need them and at the hotel in Belfast we were allowed to take her into the bar after we had dined.” They also recommend the Saveurs Patisserie in Dartmouth, where “Betsy loved all the attention she got!”

As the site is still relatively new, Betsy, Zoe and Alex plan to spend the next 12 months visiting as many places as they can to build up a comprehensive list of reviews. “It can be an expensive (but enjoyable) business eating out all the time and hotels add to the costs, so we’ve been looking into getting a few guest bloggers to post on our site to cover any areas that may be too far for us to get to right now. We also hope to have some professionals posting interesting content to help people with their pet queries,” says Zoe.

www.dogfriendlyuk.com

Dog Friendly UK provides honest reviews of dog-friendly places to visit in the UK

So what are Zoe, Alex and Betsy’s top tips for choosing a dog-friendly restaurant or hotel? “Top tip number one would obviously be to keep popping back to our blog to see what new places we have visited and read our reviews,” Zoe laughs, “We’ll keep adding to it all the time and will hopefully have a more extensive list of dog-friendly spots to visit very soon.

“I’d also recommend downloading the Doggity and Doggy Pub apps. They are both great for when you are on the move and need to find something nearby. Also, you will find that, if you do ask an establishment, they may let you in anyway, even if they are not advertising themselves as dog friendly. Everyone needs customers and it’s likely that lots of places will happily accept your friendly canine!”

So, if you fancy a night out or a weekend away that your four-legged friend can join you on, check out the website at www.dogfriendlyuk.com where there are some gems to be found. And let’s hope Britain becomes more dog friendly in the future – there’s nothing nicer than going on holiday with the whole family. No one wants to be left behind!

Words: Aislinn Kelly

Contact Aislinn: hello@themightypooch.co.uk

The Mighty Pooch is a specialist dog photographers located in Yorkshire but available for photoshoots nationwide.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by chris louks on May 17, 2013 at 10:44

    Brilliant stuff Betsy look forward to visiting some of your choices sometime

    Mia and Chris

    Like

    Reply

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