There’s sausage and chicken and rice to eat and the drinks come in bowls at a new cafe that’s geared towards dogs. Dog & Bean has opened in Beeston, with coffee, training tips and plenty of puppy-dog eyes and waggy tails.
Canines of all shapes, sizes and breeds are welcome at the town’s first dedicated dog cafe – and they’re allowed to sit on the sofa. Dog-loving friends Dee Midnight and Kate Keen launched the cafe after their plans for an indoor and outdoor dog park in 2019 didn’t materialise just before the Covid outbreak – and they’re relieved it didn’t under the circumstances.
Instead they transformed a former fireplace shop, in Chilwell Road, into the dog-friendly venue, where pooches and owners can both have a treat. One of the first customers was Sue Spencer and Jack, a chihuahua and Jack Russell cross, taking a breather from their daily walk to Beeston from Dunkirk.
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Sue, who said she got thrown out of one venue after someone complained about her dog, said: “It’s really good coffee. It’s a fantastic idea. There are dog-friendly places but if you have one specifically for dogs, it’s very easy to come into.”
Dogs can gnaw on hooves and lap up a bowl of fresh water or a steamed goat’s milk puppucino which has less lactose than cow’s milk so it’s kinder to tummies. Once fully up and running Dee hopes to expand the dog menu, which at the moment is focused on treats.
She said: “In the future I’m hoping to have slightly more balanced meals for dogs as well. There’s a specific ratio of thing dogs need to eat. As a treat these things are fine but I wouldn’t let a dog live on these It would be pretty much like trying to live on cake and coffee. You wouldn’t die but you wouldn’t be very healthy.”
Humans can refuel with a cup of tea, 200 Degrees coffee and soft drinks and to eat there’s paninis, sandwiches, soup, pastries and cakes. Kate said: “We have carefully reviewed the human menu to make sure if people want to share food with their dogs they’re not going to accidentally poison them.
“We do sell chocolate cake but we warn people not to share with their dogs. We thought for the humans it’s a bit mean otherwise.”
Toxic items such as grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts and xylitol (a sweet substance found in mushrooms and berries) are absent from the cafe. Strawberries are also on the banned list but that’s because a member of staff is allergic to them.
Between them, Dee, partner Jay Gainsford, and Kate have three huskies and a Staffy, German Shepherd and Malamute cross. Sky, who is 90 per cent blind, rules the roost. Fenrir (named after Loki’s son in Norse mythology) was the perfect advert as the cafe began to take shape – sitting on one of the display units left behind by the previous owners in the window and attracting a lot of attention from passers-by.
Arty, meanwhile, was rescued after he was found running up and down the M23. The only non huskey of the bunch, called Reinhardt, proved Dee’s savior when she went five years of hell with undiagnosed diabetes.
“It got so bad I was in bed for 18 hours a day. We got the dog to make me get up and get out,” she said. Now her diabetes is under control and she’s up at 7am ready for a busy day at work.
Kate, who used to be a lawyer, quit to become a professional dog trainer three years ago, helping owners both in person and online during the pandemic when an amount of households introduced a four-legged friend into the fold.
She remains in demand as one of the world’s specialist anxiety separation trainers, helping combat the fear and boredom suffered by pets as their owners go from being at home full-time to returning to their workplace. “It’s a slow process which involves very slowly acclimatising the dog to your. It’s very intensive leaving 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’d recommend you left a dog anyway,” said Kate.
The friends moved from London to Nottingham for the doggy project because Dee knew the city from her days studying fine art here and there’s a high proportion of pet owners according to a heat map. “Where we lived in London there were two dog cafes we went to and there’s nothing really like that around here. There’s plenty of dog-friendly places but we wanted to be somewhere that actively and encourages people to bring their dogs,” Kate added.
“We just love dogs. There are people who walk up and down this road all the time because they live nearby and some of the dogs try to bring them in even when we’re not open . If we’re here we tend to let them in. It’s really funny – they know.”
The cafe isn’t crammed with tables – a conscious decision so there’s plenty of space for wheelchair users and buggies. Dog & Bone is open Wednesday to Sunday from noon, staying open until 8pm as an alcohol-free venue for people to take their dog to and meet friends after work.
Events are also being planned including a dog-themed book club, a knitting group, workshops including enrichment for older dogs and a talk by Phil James, a drone pilot who searches for lost dogs.