In Celebration of small things: Dog Friendly Cafes
My current canine companion, Bonnie or Bon Bon as I like to call her, is a very social dog. Like dogs everywhere, she approaches life through the use of her powerful olfactory senses and turns every walk into a Proustian adventure. Last year I took a FutureLearn course on ‘Exploring Play’. One exercise which was designed to increase our sense of curiosity about the world around us, involved letting an animal take us on a walk. A video captured one student’s experience as she followed her dog here there and everywhere around an inner city environment. She shared her initial fears of lack of control but then discovered the hidden world of the individual signature of smells left by humans and animals alike. She shared her curiosity and wonder at her dogs ability to identify the oldest or newest scents in the neighbourhood as she was pulled through playgrounds, back lanes and buildings.
It was a liberating and thought provoking experience for her.
‘ Who’s leading who?’ a young man asked smiling while I indulged Bonnie in her morning scent-ual delights. After all we humans should always retain control right?
The area where Bonnie lives boasts many dog friendly cafes. You might think that savvy cafe owners have done this for the benefit of humans who love their dogs but dogs also have social needs and a great curiosity about each other and the human world. When we stop for a coffee at a local cafe, Bonnie is greeted by dogs big and small, some from her Labrador clan and also the terrier and spaniel tribes. Its easy to tell her favourites by the rate of tail wagging and refined ritual sniffing going on. The cafe is a popular one for mums and bubs too. I witnessed a lovely inter-species and inter-generational exchange between Bonnie and a bright eyed little baby who was curious about the big dog with a smile on her face. Suddenly the babe was sharing a story with Bonnie who seemed to perfectly understand the googles and giggles.
As a species we are definitely improving when we start to consider not just the essential physical needs of the domestic pets we live with but also their emotional and social needs. We’ll evolve even further as we allow them to lead us into a deeper understanding of the natural world.