The Bar Man - Yes, do let the dogs in

John recently contacted me to see how I felt about dogs in pubs. He regularly takes his animal on walks and likes to drop in for a pint on the way, and suggests that some pubs are missing out by not allowing his canine companion access.

We do not own a dog, although the bar wife is a bit soppy over puppies. Each year I buy her a page-a-day puppy calendar for Christmas and she is so taken with it, she barely notices all the other expensive gifts I shower on her.

She often comes home to tell me that she has seen Max or Dougall or Geoffrey in the park, rather than their humans, and true to form she went out for a night with the girls and before I heard about the beer, food or gossip I was treated to a full description of the dachshunds that live in the George at Newton by Castle Acre.

Indeed, in some cases the pub dog is almost the defining feature of a bar. We visited the Union Jack recently and were almost swept off our feet by Molly and her canine friends as soon as we opened the door. I watched as Bruno and Cooper, John King’s two boxers in the Seven Sisters, grew from being small enough to sit on the palm of his outstretched hand to being big enough to stand on their hind legs behind the bar, with their feet on the counter looking for all the world as if they were about to pull the next pint. Back in the 90s, Ruddles and his pal Boddington had the run of the Bank House and the nearby Bradley’s was named after a dog whose picture graced the wall.

Customers’ dogs are a bit more controversial. Some pubs don’t allow them in.

This ban could be due to the health implications, though when the best thing to have on your burger seems to be 5-1 each way, I think I will take a chance.

Bad behaviour also can be a problem, although I would suggest it is the behaviour of the owners rather than the dogs that bears examination. For me, they are an endless source of amusement.

We were in the Marshland Arms out on the Smeeth recently, and met a young Dalmatian puppy on his first visit – his inaugural lesson in pub training, the first of many I suspect. I also recall seeing an extremely long dog with very short legs in a pub. It had long hair and seemed to glide over the floor like a cross between a hovercraft and one of those bendy busses. I commented to its humans that it was the strangest dog I had ever seen and rather than being offended they explained that it was a long haired dachshund, and we went on to have a pleasant evening’s conversation. Up at the White Horse at Gaywood one of the regulars sometimes used to forget to take his dog home at last orders, leaving Mick and Sally and the customers to look after it until he returned the next day.

There was the beer-drinking beagle at the Ostrich in South Creake, the huge hound in a bar in Amsterdam that sat as silent and immobile as the sphinx (until the bar wife trod on him) and the equally large dog in a pub in Tideswell that walked around all morning with a slice of toast. So, as a source of entertainment, customer bonding and a social lubricant I say Let The Dogs In!