This week I have been mainly working undercover for top canine brand Cesar, sniffing around to uncover the real dog friendly Cornwall. How four-legged friendly are we truly in our shops, attractions, pubs and cafes? We went to investigate! First stop: Falmouth town. Falmouth is one of the major hubs for tourism in Cornwall so a large majority of people visiting will either stay at or visit this seaside town. Falmouth is predominantly one street of shops so it was a pretty easy stretch to navigate and I couldn’t help but notice the vast number of dog owners, standing in doorways taking turns to hold the lead while the other partner went and had a look around. It appears that dog owners have become accustomed to not entering shops in case we are sniffed at (or told directly to get out). In fact, statistics provided by Cesar state that a whopping 43% would like to take their dog out more in Cornwall but are concerned that they won’t be welcomed by shop owners with 24% saying they would go out more often to shops and cafes if they thought dogs would be better accepted. Even I felt a little nervous as I decided to cross the threshold today and find out…just how dog friendly are our shops?
First up: ‘Crystals’ – a shop where they sell….well, crystals! As soon as I walk in I feel calm and although my first worry is the dogs breaking something, the incense smells lovely and the friendly and cheerful woman working there (Jasmine) pays so much attention to the dogs (they love the fuss!). We manage to leave with everything intact and I am surprised at how genuinely dog friendly they are: first stop = success!
Second stop? WH Smith: it’s time to visit a national chain and I enter with some trepidation “excuse me….are dogs allowed in here?” The young girl looks unsure and says “yes I think so….as long as they don’t bark”. I flick through a magazine or two but am so worried they will bark that I end up leaving at the speed of a shoplifter. Off to the bank next where I genuinely have business to do. Surprise surprise – the bank were really friendly to dogs also (good old HSBC). They are receiving a “dog friendly” stamp of success!
Other dog friendly places are Claire’s Accessories, the Card Factory, some independent shops, including a lovely unique gift shop called ‘Spice’ and the phone shops – special mention to Carphone Warehouse and the less dog friendly places were generally anywhere selling food or clothing (understandable) and places such as Superdrug and Boots. To their credit, almost all of the independent or smaller shops were welcoming to dogs and the staff generally seemed warmer and more inviting all round! Next up: time for a pub test! We decided to go to a quaint Cornish village and spend the day there so we chose Gweek: a quaint village on the Helford (where all the posh people live!). We stopped off at the newly named ‘Black Swan Inn’ (formerly the Gweek Inn) where we were warmly welcomed with Jasper & Lola (in fact, the dogs got a LOT more fuss than we did!). We enjoyed affordable hearty meals in a relaxed setting and even made friends with the lovely couple on the table next door and their happy little girl Eva who took to barking whenever she looked at us: it was very entertaining and a true family and canine friendly place!
Following the pub we headed off to our main attraction on our list of “things to review” and we had chosen the Seal Sanctuary (also in Gweek). The reason we chose the Seal Sanctuary is because firstly (long story!) Mr. C and I adore seals and have a bit of a long-standing and very silly cheesy story involving them, secondly, we know they are dog friendly as took Jasper there when he was only a few months old and lastly, we know they are a great cause, rescuing and rehabilitating seals from the wild and so they are a great place to promote.
It has been 4 years since we last visited so off we went to see exactly how dog friendly they are. Well, I have to say – there were more dogs than seals (and there really ARE quite a few seals!) We had such an amazing time – there was something for everyone: woodland walks, farmyard animals, play areas, cafes, grey seals, fur seals, pups, sea lions, penguins, otters and interesting talks and feeds all day (plus they allow you to visit for free again within the next 7 days included in the price – great as there really is so much to see). We were given an itinerary of when the feeds were and we managed to see the seals come out for their fish (audience members got to throw the fish for them – I did put up my hand but apparently it’s for children and being the same height as the children doesn’t count!).
The dogs loved it – they watched the seals with interest; sometimes a bit excited, sometimes to be honest, a little bit scared and all of the smells on the woodland paths were of fascination to Jasper who, naturally, had to pee on every tree! We attended some very interesting talks held by one of the Seal Sanctuary staff members; Alex. His knowledge was incredible and his passion infectious!
We learnt about various creatures (did you know the largest crab ever known can stand with claws either side of a Mini!) and that Starfish eat by shooting their stomach out and then sucking the food back in (bit gross!) Also, interesting fact, dogs don’t like the smell of Starfish, they give something off – apparently this is universal. We discovered how to tell a male and female Penguin apart and saw Sea Lions kissing… we even met a Penguin called Lola! The Seal Sanctuary has earned itself a “Dog-Friendly Seal of Approval!” (Excuse the pun!).
We arrived home tired but refreshed and the dogs curled up on their blankets and went fast asleep: too much excitement for them for one day! A night of rest and then we’ll be back out there again: reviewing the real county of Cornwall from a canine perspective.
So far I have been quite impressed with the secret “dog friendly Cornwall” – the locals in Cornwall seem quite open to perusing avec pooch; it’s the national shops with governing “rules” which pose the problem. However, when I embarked on this project I was most shocked that 69% of Cornwall dog owners are prevented once a week (sometimes as often as four times per week) from taking their dog with them when they go out – that is a huge statistic so I’m glad I’ve found some research to help combat this today and I hope I don’t come across this on our café hunt tomorrow: over and out for today folks! The Cesar “Paws in Places” campaign is fighting for a more dog-friendly Country, to find out more and get involved visit the Cesar Facebook page here.