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
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’