Doggy Tolerant or Doggy Friendly?
We all get excited when we see the words ‘dog friendly’ but what does that actually mean to our humans, and us hounds?
We recently did a mini-adventure to Thornhill in Scotland, stopping on the way up at Buxton, and travelling back via Dovedale. This meant that a total of three ‘dog friendly’ hotels were investigated by my ever-sniffing button nose and I got to explore all the wonderful smells that were hundreds of miles away from the London parks and woods I frequent on a daily basis.
The purpose of our mini-adventure was to visit two very special girls who started off as two of my bestest fans and then became two of my bestest friends. They have become such good friends that they now have their own special little Facebook group and are followed by over forty Cockapoos who send them stories, presents and special messages to help them through school, hospital visits and other things that children go through. Our visit to meet them was joined by one of their other Cockapoo followers, Benjiboo, and it was his experience at a 'dog friendly' hotel that inspired me to paw out a blog on this matter.
In my opinion – and it seems my opinion matters mostly with Mummy – there is a huge difference between what us hounds consider to be dog friendly and what the hotel or B&B considers to be dog friendly. I therefore decided to give this matter some great consideration.
In order to do this, I investigated the hotels we stayed at on our mini-adventure along with Benjiboo's, and started to make a list of all the different things we needed (and wanted), and how getting these things (or not) affected the trip for both my Mummy and me.
Our first stop on the way up to Scotland was the Old Hall Hotel in Buxton. On their website they state that "we welcome dogs at The Old
Hall Hotel in the classic bedrooms. This needs to be pre-arranged and there is a small charge of £20.00 ... We welcome dogs into either of the two front lounges within the hotel. Water bowls available upon request, there is a large public park opposite the hotel for walking." What this means for us hounds is that we are not allowed in the bar or the restaurant, but is this acceptable in a supposedly dog friendly hotel? I think this depends entirely on the other facilities provided by the hotel.
Although I wasn't allowed to investigate the many smells wafting from the restaurant, or run into the bar area for the tickles I knew all the humans would provide my tummy, I was allowed in either of the two lounges at the front of the hotel. For Mummy, especially as a single traveller, this meant that she was able to eat the breakfast she had paid for (it also meant that I was allowed to help her – of course). The lounges aren't the best place to eat a breakfast, it means runny-eggy-drips can dribble down chins from sitting on low chairs (I'm by no means implying this happened to my Mummy by the way), and there are no people to watch or wag my tail hopefully at.
Once I had scoffed my sausage, I got a little bored as I had nothing to do, no one to look at, and I am assuming Mummy got bored too (until the fire alarm went off and I got to sit in the fire-engine with a very nice fireman who scrunched my ears).
Mummy eating without me can be problematic when she travels alone. Some hotels do not like me in the eating areas at all but I am also often not allowed to be left in the room alone. The Old Hall Hotel didn't mind me being left alone in the room (even though Mummy chose not to do that) but before booking, we asked the Old Manse Hotel the same questions about eating arrangements: their suggestion was that Mummy left me in the car while she ate. Now I don't know about you fellow hounds, but I don't consider that comment to be even doggy tolerant, let alone friendly (as they advertised).
The Old Hall Hotel wasn't in my opinion, what I would call entirely dog friendly because of the rule about me not being allowed in the bar. Bars in London let us hounds in most of the time so when I sniffed the lingering essence of stale beer and pork scratchings, I assumed it was a place where hounds would be allowed. There were however, no written rules for me to abide by other than this and so I was allowed to sleep next to Mummy on the bed, so despite the no bar and restaurant rule, I'd give the Old Hall a four out of five paw rating because provision was made for me to eat somewhere else with Mummy. Also, although the hotel is a little tired (according to Mummy), it was right opposite a lovely green park; I wasn't allowed off lead but I got to sniff a great deal of duck poo and watch swans on the small lakes while Mummy took photos of the running streams.
Our next stop was in Scotland itself, at Trigony House Hotel. We were very excited about this hotel because their website claimed: Trigony are a pet & dog friendly hotel. Dogs are not just allowed but welcomed at Trigony. The house is surrounded by the rolling hills of Dumfriesshire, so dogs are well catered for with some great local countryside dog friendly walks to explore, and some lovely walks for you and your four legged friend straight from the hotel’s front door.We provide all pet owner’s with a welcome pack for every dog that stays with us at Trigony. This includes a map of the land around our hotel with all the best walks in the area as well as gourmet doggy treats.
Mummy was a bit sceptical because so many hotels claim such things but I was excited by the knowledge that I was not just allowed but welcomed. I didn't know what this actually meant though as humans often say they love us hounds and then when we arrive they squirm at our mucky paws or if we raise our noses to sniff their sausage. Who wouldn't want to sniff a sausage? And think about it hounds, if we are taken for walks in muddy fields, is it our fault that we get mucky paws that then go on lovely white bedding in a dog friendly room? I keep telling my Mummy that she needs to make a choice between her White Company sheets and me next to her on the bed because she can't have both. She never listens though and within thirty minutes of those fresh white crunchy sheets going on the bed they are adorned with the beauty of my little dirty pads, making what I believe to be some beautiful art work that even Damien Hirst might want to plagiarise.
Trigony House certainly did leave me a welcome package as promised. I got poo bags, biscuity-bones, and a water bowl. I did also get a set of rules with my very own welcome message. The rules said I wasn't allowed on the furniture but that didn't mean the bed as long as it had a throw on it, which they would provide if Mummy hadn't remembered mine. This meant that us hounds were allowed to sleep with our humans rather than being told we had to sleep on the cold draughty carpet that didn't smell anything like home. I understood the house rules about the furniture in the communal areas as I'm not allowed to do this anywhere else I go, except home. I guess there are just some places our dirty paws would make soggy and unpleasant at times, for other guests.
The true test of dog friendliness for me is where I am allowed to roam with my Mummy. This is always the single biggest concern because I don't want to go on an adventure if I can't be with her. I don't cry or howl the place down because I am a calm little girl (until I spot a potential tummy rub), but I can't see the point of an adventure if I am shut in the room: what fun is that for a sniffing explorer of the world?
As soon as we had dumped our bags, we decided to test Trigony's dog friendliness by going into every room we saw. I was allowed everywhere except the restaurant, which is a standard doggy rule when we travel. This meant that I got to explore the bar, which was a lovely cosy restaurant in its own right, and the wonderfully sumptuous lounge.
We want to tell you a lot more about Trigony House Hotel in a full review because it is worthy of me pawing many more words but just so you know, before reading the full review, I'm giving it a five out five paw rating, and if you follow this link to the full review, you can get a twenty percent discount on the hotel and micro-spa because Mummy spoke with the owner to ask if he would be interested in us sharing just how wonderful the hotel is.
While we were having the luxurious time of our lives at Trigony, my lovely little friend Benjiboo was at another nearby venue, The Woodland Hotel. His experience there is our inspiration to write this particular blog and to ponder the problem of 'dog friendly' or 'dog tolerant'. On arrival, Benjiboo wasn't provided with any kind of welcome pack, not even a snack or a poop bag. I know our humans carry all these things for us but even so, a dog friendly hotel needs to be just as friendly towards us hounds as it does to our humans; after all, don't they know we lay down the rules at home?
As well as not getting a welcome snack, Benjiboo wasn't allowed in the bar either, between 5.00 and 9.00 p.m. This meant that in order to eat, his mummy had to leave him in the room. We all accept the restaurants are out of bounds but to be shut out of a bar during the main eating hours makes no sense when there are no other options. The hotel also didn't provide doggy blankets, or doggy towels, or anything doggy related. Offering itself as dog friendly doesn't quite live up to expectations because it doesn't provide anything except the catchy title of being 'dog friendly.'
Another example to compare against from our trip is the Dog & Partridge in Swinscoe. I have stayed here once before for first birthday party with my siblings. The Dog & Partridge have this to say: Special dog friendly rooms. Good walks in all directions to exercise your dog. Dog food available if required. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be served in the bar so that your pet can join you and if you are going out for the day, and your dog is not welcome, you can leave them in your room and we will walk them for you.
The first time I went to the Dog & Partridge for my birthday party, there wasn't enough room in the main bar for us all to sit so they gave us a function room that although rather small, was entirely ours to party in. They didn't give our humans odd looks that id was a doggy party, and I know from my brother's mummy that they even put his food in their fridge because it was raw and needed to be kept chilled. On our second visit, with just my Mummy and me, we explored their services a little more to test them out. Firstly, we didn't get a welcome pack on arrival, and there were no doggy blankets or doggy towels but at the same time, there were no doggy rules (except the usual restaurant one). I was allowed to sit next to Mummy in the bar on the sofa, and there were plenty of tummy rubs from the staff. It was okay for Mummy to leave me in the room (not that she did), and no one suggested my dirty little paws weren't allowed on the bed. Although the Dog & Partridge isn't a sparkling light of luxury like Trigony House Hotel, it is one we will always go back to if we are in the area because it is so easy for me to stay at and is surrounded by some stunning walks made for getting paws wet and noses muddy. For a dog-friendly rating, I'd give it four out of five paws.
In just five days, we had knowledge of four supposedly dog friendly hotels, so what is it that we expect when a hotel or B&B says it is dog friendly?
The first thing Mummy always asks is about the eating arrangements. This is crucial to the success of all our trips. If I can't eat with Mummy then the hotel or B&B loses our custom without question. Mummy takes me on holiday with her because I am fun to be with and the best company any human could want. I love adventures and get stuck in to all their challenges; she doesn't just take me because I have no other friends to stay with – my company is her choice: this means she enjoys me being in bars and restaurants with her too.
A dog friendly hotel would know this about its doggy-obsessed humans and provide some kind of alternative like all of the hotels above except the Woodland Hotel and the Old Manse Hotel. Not allowing us hounds into some kind of eating area is certainly not very friendly. Is it even doggy tolerant?
Welcome packs are a wonderful addition to a dog friendly hotel but they aren't a necessity. My Mummy rarely lets me eat what has been provided anyway because I don't eat anything with grain in but it does always make me feel like I have landed in a place where my tummy will be rubbed and my soul will be loved. A welcome pack might not be something to our tastes but they speak a thousand woofs that the owner has truly thought about us and our needs.
Doggy Bedding & Towels
These are a wonderful but rare addition to the dog friendly hotel market. If we knew that these would be present at all the places we stay, the weight in our little Mini would suddenly drop by half as we hit the road. Mummy packs so many of these for me that they take up a bag all on their own. Having these in a dog friendly hotel goes beyond the friendly and towards love and understanding. Hotels that provide such things understand the needs of doggy travel and have probably had or have dogs themselves. Such a small gesture can go a very long way.
Freedom to Roam
This is quite an unusual one but I have yet to find a hotel where I can go in every single part of it, including the restaurant. To be completely honest, I don't know if I would enjoy this as much as the idea of it because I was attacked by a roaming Spaniel in one of the hotels as it came around the corner of the corridor. It scared me so much that I squealed and Mummy had to boot it off as it tried to pin me to the wall, around my neck. In such an enclosed space it was hard to get away, so maybe this wouldn't be such a good idea after all. There is also the possibility that not everyone would enjoy a little fluffy dirt monster jumping at them for a tummy rub after playing in the muddy fields or woods for an hour.
The Room Rule
Hotels that claim to be dog friendly need to scrap this rule, without a doubt. I don't want to be left in the room alone either but I know there are times when my Mummy may need to pop out and buy something (like midnight chocolate runs to the twenty-four hour garage), and I know I am much safer in a room for a short period of time than a hot or unattended car. If a hotel doesn't let our humans eat with us for breakfast and yet we aren't allowed in the room on our own, then when do the humans get to eat? This is the silliest thing I have ever heard a dog friendly hotel say.
Whether a hotel or B&B is dog tolerant or dog friendly is something that is hard to gauge, even for my Mummy, who has taken me to lots of places. What I have learnt from all our travels is that we no longer book through online booking systems but always email the venue in advance to ask our questions. This has saved us from some awful experiences and allowed us to find hotels like Trigony House which goes beyond dog friendly and verges on a home-away-from-home.
Don't forget, if want to read a full review of Trigony House and get the twenty-percent discount code, then click here.