Have you ever wondered what a dog cafe would be like? I visited one in Lomond to find out.
People often wonder how I can be a dog person and a rabbit person. It’s like my nationality: I’m eligible for dual British and Irish nationality and could have two passports if I wanted. I just stick to British for now because it’s convenient and why spend money on 2 passports when I can only leave the country once at a time (there aren’t two of me, although if I ever went to Israel then took it into my head to go to Libya, I’d need to apply for my second passport because you can’t go to Libya if you’ve got an Israel stamp anywhere in your passport. I think there are other countries where this happens as well, but I don’t know). Being British doesn’t make me any less Irish. If UKIP get voted in as the majority party at the next election, I would apply for my Irish citizenship and take my tax money to Eire and continue enjoying all the benefits of being a member of the EU and I would be proud to be part of such an awesome country.
It’s the same with dogs and rabbits. I love rabbits when I have them, and I love dogs when I have them. Very, VERY rarely, I meet a cat that I like; so far I’ve only met three, including the Maine Coon my mum found in a bin shortly before I was born, and that used to sleep in my cot and watch me when my mum was out. Apparently this is not normal. I’ve heard horror stories about this happening to other people’s siblings and they didn’t go well. Any cat that has that level of responsibility over a newborn and doesn’t take the opportunity to kill the baby has to be a very special cat.
Sidenote: Cats are not babysitters.
So how good was the Loch Lomond area for dogs? In the words of the Scottish Weather Forecasting Service, it was phenomenal! First there was the National Park which would have been an awesome walk for dogs (we went up Ben Lomond in hailstones and 70 miles-per-hour wind). Then there was the Loch itself, where you could clean the mud off your dog’s paws in the water.
The most surprising part was in the Loch Lomond Shopping Centre in Alexandria. At the far end, up a flight of stairs was this:
It’s a cafe and boutique for dogs. Owners are welcome too.
I didn’t have a dog (obviously) but I was wearing a dalmatian print fleece so they let me in. Unlike the cat and rabbit cafes in Japan, they don’t have staff dogs to pet, but a nice couple let me pet their dog instead, which was a rare treat since we don’t know anyone with a dog back home. There was this lovely photo booth where you could take a photo of your dog hiding amongst these cuddlies, too:
I enjoyed the decor, the feeling of being around people who were pro-dog, and the delightful lack of screaming children – there was a creche over the way. The food was nice too – jacket potato, sandwich toastie type stuff that’s just what you need after climbing a mountain. And a good pot of tea.
“But you said it was a cafe and boutique for dogs.” Yes I did. There was a dog menu on the chalkboard behind the dalmatian in the photo above, and at his paws there was a selection of dog collars and other nice doggy things. In a little basket behind me, there was also a load of communal dog toys for visiting dogs to play with so they could stay occupied. I would love to take a bouncy dog here and know they would be able to be themselves and run around and play instead of having to sit and stay.
There was also an awareness stand for the SSPCA. Lots of English and Welsh people think that because the RSPCA covers their countries, that it’s a UK-wide charity. This is not true, and as a result the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals gets woefully underfunded, with people sometimes even leaving legacies to the RSPCA by mistake because they didn’t know there was a difference! Unfortunately, the RSPCA believes it needs every penny that it gets and seems to think its cause is more important than that of other animal charities (bear in mind a lot of their work is with farms despite what the adverts show you). Know which one you want to give your money to because you can’t get it back once you’ve paid them.
Overall I had a great time at this cafe and it really made my day better and brighter to be able to come and eat and drink here and be in such a dog environment.
There were even more doggy accents to the cafe, but I’ll leave them for you to discover when you go there. 😉
Downstairs there was an RSPB shop (that’s the bird charity. They cover the whole UK). I had been disappointed to not get to see puffins on this trip, because the road to Skye was closed with the snow, so I was delighted when I found this puffin which I was able to keep and take home:
And this lovely pair of tits:
When you squeeze the Bluetits or puffin, they make the same noise they would make in the wild. They’re an excellent educational tool for children. We have a trio of bluetits that frequent our garden at home, along with a robin and a couple of other birds. Sometimes they even fly into the rabbit village to say hello to the bunnies. I couldn’t resist these two though because now I have a great pair of Blue Tits (as opposed to a blue pair of Great Tits, another species of bird, but not actually blue).
I don’t think there are enough people in the UK who can recognise birds either when looking at or listening to them. It’s one of those skills like plant and tree recognition that seems to be more lost with every generation. Maybe I’m just being curmudgeonly but when I have children it will be a high priority for them to recognise wildlife and have a good level of awareness of nature and our interactions with the environment, even if we live in a city.
We went onwards to Doune Castle after this.