Posts Tagged ‘London’

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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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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