It’s a dog’s life Wel­come to the Cotswolds, where dogs have taken the lead

Wel­come to the Cotswolds, where dogs have well and truly taken the lead

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE - WORDS: Kathryn Mck­endrick *

It’s a beau­ti­fully warm morn­ing and, whilst in­dulging in a par­tic­u­larly de­li­cious pain au choco­late at my lo­cal cof­fee shop, I get the feel­ing I’m be­ing watched. Scan­ning the room my in­stinct’s con­firmed as I meet the gaze of a rather hand­some look­ing boy. Huge brown eyes stare back into mine as I shyly of­fer him some of my pas­try, which he greed­ily ac­cepts. Turns out, not for the first time, my ad­mirer is a dog.

It’s not en­tirely un­flat­ter­ing. Like most peo­ple – with beat­ing hearts – I love dogs. Re­cently, how­ever, I’m en­coun­ter­ing more and more four­legged guests sit­ting side by side with their ‘hoomans’ wher­ever I go. The ques­tion is… who let the dogs out?

Be­com­ing top dog

Tra­di­tion­ally, un­less they were work­ing or as­sis­tance dogs, our com­pan­ions were left at home for most of the day. Lov­ingly they’d wait for our faces to reap­pear in the evening, when they would con­tent­edly curl up at our slip­pered feet. Not the modern dog, how­ever; that slip­per is now well and truly on the other paw.

This new breed is more likely to be found loung­ing on the sofa, paws up, wait­ing for their or­ganic meal to be hand de­liv­ered as part of an eye-wa­ter­ing monthly food sub­scrip­tion. We, mean­while, are bust­ing a gut to be able to af­ford the life­style to which our fur ba­bies have be­come ac­cus­tomed. That is, of course, if said dog isn’t be­ing em­ployed as so­cial me­dia man­ager for our of­fice In­sta­gram ac­count or tak­ing up prime real es­tate in our co-work­ing spa­ces. It can leave you won­der­ing, who’s boss?

Not that we can blame them for their newly ac­quired in­dul­gence life­styles, rather it’s the na­tion­wide trend of pet own­ers hu­man­is­ing their dogs that has lead to this change in the sta­tus quo. In 2017 we spent 4.62 bil­lion pounds in the UK* keep­ing our best friends happy. Who, an­i­mal or oth­er­wise, would will­ingly give that up?

Gone are the days when a tin of Chum and a dry bis­cuit would do, and with own­ers in­creas­ingly spend­ing big money on luxuries for their pets, Cotswold com­pa­nies are quickly re­al­is­ing that the furry pound is on the rise. I thought my Labrador Fudge was low main­te­nance, but it turns out she is prob­a­bly by all ac­counts – hers def­i­nitely – un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated. If only she knew about The Fish Ho­tel in Broad­way where the hap­pi­ness of dog guests seems as much a pri­or­ity as their hu­man’s. Wel­come at din­ner and drinks in the bar and lounges, pam­pered pooches can en­joy a spe­cially made Doggy Af­ter­noon Tea: per­fect af­ter a day of jump­ing the ho­tel’s dog agility course be­fore hit­ting the hay in their cosy ho­tel dog bed. Sounds like dog heaven – please don’t tell Fudge.

Food for thought

It’s not just ho­tels ei­ther; these lucky pups have got their paws firmly un­der the ta­ble of many restau­rants and cafés around the Cotswolds. How­ever, I won­der that it can’t al­ways be plain sail­ing. What if you meet a mutt with at­ti­tude? And if chil­dren are ex­pected to be­have when din­ing out, surely the same ap­plies to dogs? Try­ing to tame a two-year old’s ta­ble man­ners is no mean feat, but have you ever come be­tween a Lab and food? It’s not en­tirely an en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence when your furry com­pan­ion is beg­ging every­body from the sur­round­ing ta­bles for a tid­bit of what­ever they have fool­ishly left on their plate. Es­pe­cially when beg­ging is usu­ally ac­com­pa­nied by grav­i­ty­de­fy­ing drool strings, ready to be de­posited any­where and ev­ery­where with­out warn­ing.

For the dog-friendly es­tab­lish­ments this is a con­sid­er­a­tion. Henry Raven­hill from Henry’s in Minch­in­hamp­ton says, “We love hav­ing dogs here, and loads of our cus­tomers tell us that be­ing able to bring their dogs in with them is one of the rea­sons they keep com­ing. Es­pe­cially as we’re so close to the com­mon. How­ever, we have to

re­spect other cus­tomers who might not like dogs in their space or who aren’t fans of dogs. It’s just about re­spect­ing others around you. And we will give a gen­tle nudge to the owner if a dog is mis­be­hav­ing.”

A pawsi­tive ex­pe­ri­ence

It would seem that a lit­tle pe­ti­quette is de­sir­able all round. Ac­cord­ing to Mark Thomp­son, ex­pert dog trainer and co­founder of The Dog House, dog train­ing treats (made to a recipe cre­ated by Miche­lin-star chef Michel Roux no less), it’s im­por­tant that a dog’s be­hav­iour is suit­able to its en­vi­ron­ment, “It’s won­der­ful if we can spend more time with our dogs. How­ever, so­cial­is­ing from a very young age, in many dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions is vi­tal for dogs to be­have as we need. This avoids any nasty sur­prises mean­ing that own­ers, dogs and other pa­trons can en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence to­gether.” My mind wan­ders back to drool-cov­ered Labrador chops and ask Mark whether it’s truly pos­si­ble for dogs to ig­nore their nat­u­ral in­stincts. He in­sists con­sis­tent train­ing can en­sure a har­mo­nious en­counter. Seems like Fudge and I have some work to do, then.

Judg­ing by the many dog-friendly lo­ca­tions ap­pear­ing in ev­ery town, dogs are not just part of the fam­ily, but part of our com­mu­ni­ties too. Just make sure your ca­nine’s be­hav­iour is up to scratch. Not men­tion­ing any (Labrador) names, but no­body en­joys apol­o­gis­ing when their lib­erty-tak­ing hound winds up in the dog house. And with so much all over the Cotswolds for us to en­joy with our furry friends, it would be a shame for them to miss out on the fun.

‘This new breed is more likely to be found loung­ing on the sofa, paws up, wait­ing for their or­ganic meal to be hand de­liv­ered’

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