British summertime is here...
Is there anything more quintessentially British than celebrating the summer by going to the pub? It’s certainly up there on the checklist of events we must tick off before the nights really begin to draw in. Some of my favourite summer afternoons have been had under a parasol in a quaint traditional village pub in the back end of paradise. I tend to find these countryside watering holes after a long dog walk, where we’ve driven 20 miles out into the remotest of spots donned with a rucksack full of dog paraphernalia and a handy book featuring 10 of the ‘best-kept’ walking routes in the area. We all know by now, it’s essentially fraud when the author refers to some of these walks being the ‘best kept secret’ in the western hemisphere. The disappointment of finally arriving in the pre-determined car park to be greeted by an ice-cream truck and hoards of fellow outdoor enthusiasts is paled into insignificance when you remember what’s at the end of this 5 mile ramble. It’s the dog friendly pub. The sooner we get our 10 year old Labrador, Rosie, tired the sooner we can be sat in that beer garden enjoying a well-deserved rest. Triple cooked chips and a burger anyone?
The next question is – have you prepared for this dog friendly trip to pub? Granted, there’s a plethora of fabulous dog friendly pubs in the United Kingdom that caters for every doggy need under the sun. However, when venturing to a new pub, you need to make sure you are prepared. Be under no illusion, this trip to the pub does not start with your first steps out of the £3 for all-day parking starting point. The preparation to make sure your dog is well catered for really starts in your own kitchen. Let me delve into this further. Speaking as a besotted dog owner, I know that catering for my dog’s needs means more to me than remembering my own waterproof raincoat. Taking your dog to the pub requires a rucksack and lots of space in it. I’ve found that referring to a checklist is the easiest way to remember what’s needed. For example; the dog’s favourite blanket for comfort, the dog’s favourite bag of healthy treats for snacks, the travel-friendly water bowl and last but certainly not least – your dog’s favourite toy to keep them occupied whilst you’re tucking into chocolate fudge cake. Once you’ve carted this regalia into the pub, the fun really starts.
Now I don’t know about you, but my Labrador has the innate ability to smell a carelessly discarded mushroom from 5 tables away, resulting in her not even watching where she’s going. This results in her pulling like a freight train. This particular sight is a great form of entertainment for the happy drinkers and diners as they watch a dog walk their owner to a vacant picnic table in the beer garden outside.
Here comes the not so tried and trusted method that brings even more of a show for the curious onlookers. Yes, you guessed it – the sport of tying your dog up safely to the picnic bench to ensure that the classic film scene from Beethoven where he runs down the road with metal table and chairs in tow, is not repeated. Surely the classic ‘wrap the lead back and forth around the table leg 100 times’ will suffice? Better just wrap it around once more just for good luck. Yes – apparently your dog can turn into Popeye at any moment.
Now that the on looking crowds have had their fill of comedy, you need to order drinks. No – you don’t. Your dog needs a drink first. Let the rummaging around in the bottom of the jam packed rucksack commence. Why is the water bowl ALWAYS at the bottom the rucksack? Dealing with all of this whilst the waiter swoons over your dog, declaring them to be the cutest thing they’ve ever seen, whilst not inevitably not taking my food order. I’m used to this happening though. The dog always comes first it seems.
I love going into a beer garden when there’s other dogs around. It’s the opportunity to show off to others on how well behaved your dog can be. For us, Rosie is a very quiet dog so she tends to keep the noise levels to a minimum and is incredibly respectful of her surroundings. There have been times where one dog’s barking outburst results in a choir of dogs starting up an impromptu sing-a-long. It reverberates around the beer garden like a Radiohead concert – fine for the first couple of minutes but soon becomes incredibly tiresome. The communal barking is the epitome of watching falling dominos. As soon as one starts – they’re all off! Thankfully for me, our quiet little Labrador, desperate for all of her Christmases to come at once with an inadvertent falling chip, is not normally the instigator of such musical pastimes.
One part of life that never fails to amaze me is people’s genuine love of dogs. There have been occasions where groups of merry drinkers have stopped their conversations mid-sentence, to swoon at your pride and joy walking into the establishment. The inevitable reception of ’oohs and ahhs’ are always smugly welcome in my book. Admittedly, I always get the fleeting thought that this must be exactly how a bride feels when walking down the aisle. All eyes on her.
If you play your cards right, your dog can be the local celebrity of the pub for the next couple of hours. You get those that ask whether it’s okay to give the dog a bit of apple crumble (no, absolutely not). Not to mention everybody asking whether autographs and selfies with your dog are allowed (absolutely). Okay, granted I am slightly embellishing with the autographs part but you get the picture. Form an orderly queue starting from the condiments table and wait your turn to pat the dog, yes you are allowed to ask the dog two questions and no you cannot take my dog home with you.
Before home time, it’s back to delving deep into the bottomless rucksack to fill your own dog’s seemingly bottomless stomach. Yes you guessed it; we even bring our Labrador her own meal to the pub with us. It would be rude to make her helplessly watch us eating and not repay the favour. This is the big crescendo of our trip. Out comes the travel food bowl and the plastic bag filled with a pre-weighed portion that guarantees the pub dwellers/audience members can return home happy with a brand new story to tell. Gleefully regaling to their loved ones on their return, of when they watched a dog eat their din-dins and it was the most adorable thing they’d ever seen in their entire life.
Throw in a couple of potty breaks and a snooze and there you have it – a trip to the pub with your beloved dog…. oh and other family members.
At this point it’s probably past your dog’s bedtime and you know what they get like. The last thing you want is a cranky dog in the morning (especially if you’ve had one too many vinos – that’s never a good combination). Time to pack your dog’s belongings away, try to remember how to untie this ridiculous knot and wave goodbye to your dog’s new best friends. Probably never to be seen ever again.
A great time had by all. Cherished memories that shall last forever, or at least 6 weeks for the dog.
Be sure to remember, by providing your dog with such enriching experiences it means they can be a well-rounded pooch. Just be sure it’s not the triple-cooked chips, apple crumble or over-inflated ego that’s making them well rounded. If you see your dog next walk out in public wearing a pair of sunglasses after going to the pub, be sure to have a word. Celebrity life isn’t for everyone.
Until next time.