There are sausages, chicken and rice to eat and drinks are served in bowls at a new cafe aimed at dogs. Dog & Bean opened in Beeston, with coffee, training tips and lots of puppy eyes and wagging tails.
Dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds are welcome at the city’s premier dog cafe — and they’re allowed to sit on the couch. Dog-loving friends Dee Midnight and Kate Keen launched the cafe after their plans for an indoor and outdoor dog park in 2019 failed to materialize just before the Covid outbreak – and they’re relieved it didn’t produced under the circumstances.
Instead, they’ve transformed a former chimney shop, in Chilwell Road, into a dog-friendly venue where pooches and owners alike can feast. One of the first customers was Sue Spencer and Jack, a cross between chihuahua and Jack Russell, taking a break from their daily walk to Beeston from Dunkirk.
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Sue, who said she was kicked out of a venue after someone complained about her dog, said: “It’s really good coffee. It’s a fantastic idea. walk in.”
Dogs can gnaw on their hooves and lap up a bowl of cool water or a steamed goat’s milk puppucino which contains less lactose than cow’s milk, making it gentler on the tummy. Once fully operational, Dee hopes to expand the dog menu, which for now is focused on treats.
She said: “In the future, I hope to have slightly more balanced meals for dogs as well. There is a specific ratio of things dogs should eat. As a treat, these things are fine, but I wouldn’t let a dog live on these. It would be a bit like trying to live off cakes and coffee. You wouldn’t die, but you wouldn’t be very healthy.
Humans can refuel with a cup of tea, 200 degree coffee and soft drinks and to eat there are paninis, sandwiches, soup, pastries and cakes. Kate said: “We’ve carefully reviewed the human menu to make sure that if people want to share food with their dogs, they’re not going to accidentally poison them.
“We sell chocolate cakes but warn people not to share any with their dogs. We thought for humans it’s a bit nasty otherwise.”
Poisonous products such as grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts and xylitol (a sugary substance found in mushrooms and berries) are absent from coffee. Strawberries are also on the forbidden list, but that’s because a member of staff is allergic to them.
Between them, Dee, her partner Jay Gainsford and Kate have three huskies and a Staffy, German Shepherd and Malamute cross. Sky, who is 90% blind, rules the roost. Fenrir (named after Loki’s son in Norse mythology) was the perfect advertisement as the cafe began to take shape – sitting on one of the displays left by the previous owners in the window and catching plenty of passers-by.
Arty, meanwhile, was rescued after being found running on the M23. The only non-huskey in the group, called Reinhardt, proved Dee’s savior when she went through five years of hell with undiagnosed diabetes.
“It was so bad that I stayed in bed 18 hours a day. We asked the dog to get me up and out”, she said. Now her diabetes is under control and she is up at 7am ready for a busy day at work.
Kate, who was a lawyer, quit to become a professional dog trainer three years ago, helping owners in person and online during the pandemic when an unprecedented number of households brought a four-legged friend into the fold.
She remains in demand as one of the world’s leading separation anxiety trainers, helping to combat the fear and boredom that pets suffer from as their owners move from full-time home to home. return to their workplace. “It’s a slow process that involves very slowly acclimatizing the dog when you leave. It’s very intensive and hard work for the owners but it pays off and most owners can go up to four hours and that’s the maximum I would recommend you leave a dog on anyway,” said Kate.
The friends moved from London to Nottingham for the dog project because Dee knew the town from studying fine art here and there is a high proportion of pet owners according to a heatmap. “Where we lived in London there were two dog cafes we went to and there is nothing like it here. There are plenty of places that allow dogs, but we wanted to be somewhere that actively encourages people to bring their dogs.”Kate added.
“We love dogs. There are people walking this road all the time because they live nearby and some dogs try to bring them even when we are not open. If we’re here, we tend to leave. It’s really funny – they know.”
The cafe is not filled with tables – a conscious decision, so there is plenty of space for wheelchair users and pushchairs. Dog & Bone is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon and stays open until 8 p.m. as an alcohol-free place where people can take their dogs and meet friends after work.
Events are also planned, including a dog-themed book club, a knitting group, enrichment workshops for older dogs, and a talk by Phil James, a drone pilot who searches for lost dogs.