Archive for the ‘Pooch profiles’ Category

We’ve found a fab dog-friendly hotel in Norfolk

Last week we headed out on our summer holiday to the gorgeous county of Norfolk, with seven days’ boating in the diary and a three-night stay at a dog-friendly hotel called the Beechwood in North Walsham. Well, what a find that was.

We had booked a three-night stay in a four-poster room, which included dinner and breakfast, and Sunday night in the room was free as long as we ate in the restaurant. Our room was lovely, with a huge four poster and a fantastic bathroom with Molton Brown toiletries to pour into the elegant slipper bath. And, of course, Bruce – who is really in charge of our holiday plans! – was welcome.

Delicious scallops at the Beechwood Hotel

Delicious scallops at the Beechwood Hotel

Upon arrival, we were treated to a delicious cream tea in the bar area (all in with the room price), where Bruce sat at our feet and watched the guests go by. It became apparent pretty early on that every other guest was a repeat customer – and proud of it. It was extraordinary.

Bruce was allowed in the bar but not the restaurant, which was fine as they were happy for us to leave him in our lovely room and didn’t perform a turn-down service unless you requested it. This was ideal for us, as we didn’t have to leave Bruce in the car and he’s very happy in his bed if he can see our stuff strewn around the room. He knows we’re coming back and will snooze away contentedly.

Bruce and Michael on a beautiful North Norfolk beach

Bruce and Michael on a beautiful North Norfolk beach

Dinner was excellent. They brought us olives and little bites first in the bar, followed by canapés, all while we enjoyed a pre-dinner drink. Then we moved to the elegant, candle-lit restaurant where we feasted on four courses, followed by tea or coffee and chocolates back in the bar. The food was superb, with different choices each night. I especially enjoyed the local delicacy, Cromer crab. In the bar after the meal, Lindsay (one of the owners) came round with treats for the dogs, which was a lovely touch.

I've got a bit of sand where?!

I’ve got a bit of sand where?!

Breakfast was another taste-bud delight and we were so full afterwards that we didn’t need lunch. All in all, we had a wonderful stay and the free-range eggs Lindsay gave us for our week on the boat, which he’d collected from his own hens in his garden, topped off a great stay. The attention to detail was superb, all the staff were friendly and helpful (and all seemed to know Bruce’s name!), and it’s safe to say that we’ll be joining everyone else in returning. Visit the website: http://www.beechwood-hotel.co.uk/index.htm

Norfolk itself is a wonderful county to visit, from the idyllic Broads to the beautiful beaches where you can spot seals, and from the lovely little villages to the National Trust and English Heritage places waiting to be discovered. We highly recommend it.

Words: Aislinn Kelly

Email Aislinn: hello@themightypooch.co.uk

The Mighty Pooch are specialist dog photographers based in Yorkshire but happy to travel for photoshoots. Go behind the scenes of some of our shoots.

The images in this article are taken on an iPhone and are not representative of our professional work 🙂

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.

Meet Millie and Jake – Leeds Dogs Trust sponsor dogs

For the last three years, Michael has enjoyed the lovely job of photographing the Leeds Dogs Trust sponsor dogs Millie and Jake, whom The Mighty Pooch also now sponsors. Both long-term residents at the centre, Millie and Jake are wonderful dogs who had a tough start in life.

 

Jake (left) and Millie Photograph by The Mighty Pooch

Jake (left) and Millie
Photograph by The Mighty Pooch

Jake is a tan-coloured beagle cross who was born in March 2009. Aged just one, he came to live at Dogs Trust Leeds in March 2010, where he enjoys paddling in the pond and playing with his squeaky toys. He’s also quite the drooler, which could be down to his love of food! Although Jake has been with Dogs Trust since 2010, it is possible that he could find an adoptive home, should the right people come along. He’s certainly a happy chappy with a lot of sunshine in his doggy smile.

Millie is a Heinz 57 – she is her own unique breed. She was born in October 2000 and, aged two, she arrived at Dogs Trust in September 2002. Millie’s favourite things are her toys, grub and trips out in the car. She is mistrustful, however, of strangers, and dislikes those she doesn’t know. Luckily, she has some wonderful carers who she allows in for cuddles – and plenty of canine chums to play with at the centre. She’s a refined lady who offers her paw for treats and, at 12 years old, she still enjoys a walk and a chew on a big stick.

Dogs Trust vows never to destroy a healthy dog – and that’s why they have their sponsorship scheme, as they explain: “For those dogs finding it difficult to be rehomed, whether it’s due to behavioural or medical issues they may have, supporters are able to sponsor them whilst they are in our care. Sponsorship goes towards food, medical care and training for all the dogs in our care. It also covers the costs of running the rehoming centres, ensuring our dogs stay safe and warm until we can reach our ultimate goal of finding each dog a loving home.”

If you want to find out more, or sponsor Jake or Millie yourself, head to www.sponsoradog.org.uk for more information.

Words: Aislinn Kelly

hello@themightypooch.co.uk

Oscar the dog teaches children new tricks

From the moment Laura-Jane Muscroft saw Oscar, a Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen cross, she fell in love. Today, four years on, Oscar is her right-hand man, accompanying her to primary schools to educate  young children how to care for dogs. Here, Dogs Trust’s Laura-Jane (LJ) talks guessing games, converting petrified youngsters into dog lovers and Oscar’s comedy moments.

 

LJ with Oscar (right) and new puppy Polly

LJ with Oscar (right) and new puppy Polly

Four years ago, Oscar arrived at Dogs Trust from Ireland, where he’d been rescued from a puppy farm along with his brother and sister. LJ, who’d been working at Dogs Trust for two years at the time, took one look at Oscar and had to take him home. These days, LJ and Oscar tour schools to educate the next generation of dog owners how to care for and understand their four-legged friends.

“When Oscar and I go into primary schools,” explains LJ, “we want to get the message across about responsible dog ownership and how to stay safe around dogs in the community. For the younger year groups, I do a workshop called Oscar’s Bag of Needs. This bag has everything Oscar needs to stay happy and healthy. The children love guessing games, so this is great for getting them really engaged.”

Children who guess correctly what Oscar needs – water, dog food, veterinary treatment, toys, walks, etc. – are invited to the front of the class to demonstrate that particular need. For example, they listen to his heart beat to represent veterinary treatment, give him a brush to demonstrate grooming and fill up his water bowl to hydrate him. “We even have some pretend poo to pick up!” laughs LJ.

Millie, seen here, is a resident at Dogs Trust Leeds and has been living at the centre for most of her life

Millie, seen here, is a resident at Dogs Trust Leeds and has been living at the centre for most of her life

In sessions with older children, LJ shows them a DVD called It’s A Dog’s Life, before asking them to role play at being rehomers and match certain dogs with the best home for them, explaining why they have chosen their answers. “In one school, I put It’s A Dog’s Life on and Oscar sat up in his bed, turned round and watched the entire DVD from start to finish. The children thought this was great!” adds LJ.

At the end of each session, the children are taught how to stay safe, with tips like never running away from a dog or stroking a dog without permission. This advice seems to go down well with the children, as LJ explains, “I had just finished my workshop at one school and the children went out to play on the grass. I was swapping Oscar’s lead and he spotted the children playing football, so he ran onto the grass and started to play with them. All the teachers were laughing, as the children stood still and did the ‘X factor’, where they cross their arms and stand still if there is a dog running around the park – this is one of the things I teach them to do in the safety part of the workshop, so it showed they had listened.”

While Dogs Trust is well known for rescuing and rehoming dogs who have experienced neglect or maltreatment, the education side of the charity plays a key role in preventing poor welfare of dogs in the future. By educating the dog owners of tomorrow, the charity hopes to prevent many dogs from experiencing cruelty or neglect – and feedback has been great. “The feedback I have had has been unbelievable. The children have been so engaged throughout the sessions, which is brilliant. We want the children to go home and tell their parents what they have learnt, and explain how to care for dogs correctly and how to stay safe. After all, they are the dog owners of the future!”

On occasion, LJ gets to see an immediate effect on the children she teaches, which is very gratifying, “I went to one school where a girl was petrified of dogs. She couldn’t go near them. After a one-hour workshop, however, she loved Oscar to pieces. She was stroking him, playing with his ball and even walked past everyone in the corridor holding onto his lead to take him down to reception. It was as if something had just clicked! Oscar has a very calming influence on children.”

LJ is also a passionate advocate of adopting rescue dogs. She has nine dogs herself – plus horses – and the latest addition to her canine family is Polly, a Cockapoo who is around 19 weeks old. LJ was taking one of her school groups around the Dogs Trust centre for a VIP tour when Polly arrived looking for a new home. “We walked through to the puppy section and there she was – I couldn’t say no!”

When it comes to rehoming a rescue dog, LJ recommends you do lots of research into the different breeds to find out their energy levels, temperament and characteristics. You should also consider the age of the dog as, with puppies, you need to be around most of the time at the start to properly train them. She also advises that you think with your head and not your heart, and don’t get carried away. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your dog’s behaviour issues. If you adopt a dog from Dogs Trust, you get free behaviour advice for life,” she says. “When you find the right dog, it’s the best feeling ever to know you have just rehomed a rescue dog.”

If you work for a primary school that may be interested in one of LJ’s free educational workshops on responsible dog ownership and safety around dogs, contact her at laura-jane.muscroft@dogstrust.org.uk. More information can be found on the Dogs Trust website.

Remember: A Dog Is For Life.

Laura-Jayne’s key to responsible dog ownership

A Dog Is For Life

A Dog Is For Life

1. Freedom from hunger and thirst

2. Freedom from discomfort

3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease

4. Freedom to express normal behaviour

5. Freedom from fear and distress

6. And lots and lots of LOVE

Coming up on the blog on Friday – meet the Leeds Dogs Trust sponsor dogs. They’re gorgeous.

Words: Aislinn Kelly

Email: hello@themightypooch.co.uk

Photographs copyright of The Mighty Pooch Dog Photographers.

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

Bulldog couture: Upholsterer Joanna Mac on a new breed of interior design

British bulldogs. Singer Adele’s got one, Winston Churchill resembled one (allegedly!) and they have been popularly used to represent England and the UK for years. Now bulldogs are all over the most stylish of interiors.

 

Joanna Mac is an upholsterer whose English bulldogs are her inspiration. She sources elegant chairs for her clients and creates one-off pieces featuring one of her own mighty pooches, Watson, as her muse. Joanna says, “My dogs Watson and Rosy are hilarious and make me laugh every day. Their faces are so full of expression – what’s not to love?! I think that’s why bulldogs are so popular at the moment in interiors – they have such hugely expressive faces.”

Joanna Mac's bulldog Watson is the inspiration for her cute designs

Joanna Mac’s bulldog Watson is the inspiration for her cute designs

To Joanna, it seemed like the perfect solution to include Watson and Rosy in her work, as they “will do anything to make sure they are the centre of the universe – they are both such attention seekers!” She’s had a great response already to her designs and, as each one is unique, her clients are delighted to own a piece that cannot be found anywhere else.

When it comes to incorporating dog-inspired furnishings into your home, Joanna suggests you choose one or two key pieces. “Try not to overdo it,” she advises. “A chair and/or a cushion is plenty enough for one room and will allow your dog-inspired pieces to take centre stage.”

Of course, it’s not just we humans who can appreciate bespoke furniture. “I’ve been working on a footstool – but this one’s actually for my bulldogs,” Joanna explains. “They like to be able to see out of the window and watch the world go by but, as they are quite short, I re-upholstered one for them to sit on. They absolutely love it.”

One of Joanna’s Watson chairs retails for approximately £150 and you can arrange collection of your bespoke bulldog chair in just four to six weeks – and they make a fabulous gift. Based in south-west London, Joanna can be contacted via email at watsonandrosy@hotmail.co.uk

Although Joanna doesn’t usually create pieces featuring her clients’ own pets – she has to be careful with the images she uses, as quality is paramount – we’re delighted that she’s extended her services to all Mighty Pooch clients. Simply send Joanna one of your professional photographs from your MP photoshoot and she will create a unique piece featuring your own canine chum.

Drop Joanna a line: watsonandrosy@hotmail.co.uk

Coming soon to The Mighty Pooch blog: Bulldog couture part 2!

Words: Aislinn Kelly

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