Kiwi cafes love our furry friends New Zealand cafes have gone to the dogs, in a truly mar­vel­lous way, writes Eleanor Black.

The Dominion Post - - Life -

Dogs lolling be­neath cafe ta­bles while their own­ers sip lat­tes or glasses of pinot would have been un­think­able 30 years ago. Now it is just the way Ki­wis roll, with dog-friendly din­ing op­tions avail­able through­out the coun­try.

Dog own­ers love to take their an­i­mals to cafes and pubs, es­pe­cially those near dog-ex­er­cis­ing zones such as beaches and parks. But it takes more than a bowl of luke­warm water by the front door and a tol­er­ance for four-legged pa­trons to make an eatery truly dog-friendly.

Some es­tab­lish­ments have found their way into dog-lovers’ hearts by of­fer­ing home­made dog bis­cuits and the ‘‘pup­pa­cino’’, a frothy treat (usu­ally dairy-free) served in a small cup.

Star­bucks is known for its off-menu pup­pa­cino, although its ver­sion uses whipped cream, which is not suitable for some dogs.

The Keg Room in Ro­to­tuna, north of Hamilton, has a full dog menu, fea­tur­ing raw meat­balls in to­mato sauce, chicken pop­si­cles, ba­con heart bis­cuits, and a va­ri­ety of dry chews.

For $4, your dog can en­joy a Blood­hound Mary (to­mato juice and fish stock over ice), or $3.50 gets you a Wag­ging Tale Ale (beef stock and soda water).

‘‘Ini­tially peo­ple laughed at us, they just thought we were ab­so­lutely nuts,’’ says the owner of The Keg Room, Melissa Ren­wick, who runs the

busi­ness with her part­ner An­drew Pi­etersz.

But that was three years ago and, this sum­mer, they will launch the third it­er­a­tion of their dog menu, fea­tur­ing some yet-to-be-dis­closed high-end treats.

While the in­ten­tion was to sim­ply add an­i­mal in­ter­ac­tion to their days (this was be­fore Malt, the pub dog, joined the fam­ily), the cou­ple found that the dog menu was a money-spin­ner too, bring­ing new cus­tomers through the door and as­sur­ing re­turn vis­its.

Now on a bright sum­mer weekend, they will get be­tween 30 and 40 dogs (with own­ers) through the door in a day. ‘‘If the [fur] kids are happy, the hu­mans will be happy,’’ says Ren­wick.

She says ‘‘the dog move­ment’’ has grown sig­nif­i­cantly in the past five years in New Zealand.

‘‘Peo­ple have be­come more Euro­pean in their at­ti­tude.

‘‘[We treat dogs like] mem­bers of the fam­ily and want to take them ev­ery­where.’’

This shift has been aided by the Food Act 2014, which came into force in 2016, giv­ing busi­ness own­ers the op­tion of al­low­ing pets into food premises if they man­aged the po­ten­tial risk to food safety. Own­ers must keep an­i­mals out of food preparatio­n ar­eas and away from food stor­age, for ex­am­ple.

In prac­ti­cal terms, this means that dogs are of­ten in­vited to sit out­side, and may even be given their own roam­ing zone un­der cover.

Stuff’s Four Legs Good colum­nist Nick Bar­nett says a dog-friendly cafe is one that pro­vides more than out­door ta­bles, water bowls and leash hitch­ing hooks.

‘‘A wel­com­ing at­ti­tude is just as im­por­tant. It’s more dog-friendly to tell dog own­ers, ‘We’ve got ta­bles that are per­fect for you and your dogs’ rather than, ‘OK, so long as they don’t come in­side the restau­rant.’

‘‘It’s a mat­ter of whether the at­ti­tude is grudg­ing or in­clu­sive.

‘‘I like it when a server sees us take our seats with the dogs and brings over a water bowl with­out us ask­ing – it makes us think they’re con­sid­er­ing our needs.

‘‘And what about a lit­tle com­pli­men­tary bowl of dry treats for the dogs? I don’t know of any eater­ies that do that, but it wouldn’t go un­no­ticed.’’

The SPCA pub­lished a list of dog-friendly cafes two years ago, high­light­ing those with gen­er­ous out­door space and dog-lov­ing own­ers, but there are dozens more es­tab­lish­ments where dogs are treated like val­ued cus­tomers.

Welling­ton’s Beach Baby­lon offers a ‘‘K9 menu’’, fea­tur­ing dog bis­cuits, $8 ‘‘gourmet’’ mince, a

JOSEPH JOHNSON/ STUFF MONIQUE FORD/ STUFF

Coco the 4-yearold Cavoo­dle en­joys sur­vey­ing the scene at Christchur­ch’s Hello Sun­day. Welling­ton’s Beach Baby­lon offers a ‘‘K9 menu’’, fea­tur­ing dog bis­cuits, ‘‘gourmet’’ mince, a meat plat­ter and a cold dog­ga­cino sprin­kled with beef stock.

LAWRENCE SMITH/ STUFF

Scout the ter­rier en­joys noth­ing more than a quick stop for a pup­pac­cino at his lo­cal cafe, Crumb, in Auck­land.

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