The Power of Dog Friendly

I felt a bit defeated last weekend. We visited a wedding venue and were told that they wouldn’t accept dogs, and they weren’t willing to reconsider at all. It’s been difficult to find somewhere that meets what we want, and that will allow Fudge to be there too, after all, she was always going to be part of our big day.

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I’ve been a bit sceptical recently by the lack of dog friendly places, or at least the lack of places that advertise as being dog friendly. However we were wandering around a local town and I noticed that there’s been more and more stickers appearing in shop windows that say ‘All dogs welcome’. I first saw this sign several weeks ago in the Costa in the town, and since then we have taken Fudge in there with us, and seen a considerable increase in the amount of dogs in the shop. This time I noticed them in lots of shop windows and realised that there’s a website on the sticker, so I looked it up and found that a wonderful lady in the town had the genius idea to design the stickers as a way of letting people know which shops are dog friendly, and which shops are off limits.
I have gotten in contact with Yvonne, and below is a little interview that I have done with her.
Tell me a little bit about yourself
My name is Yvonne, and I live in Crewkerne with my partner Jon and our 2 year old Cockapoo Lottie. Lottie is our first dog as a couple and we have had her since a puppy. She is now the centre of our lives, closely followed by our two cats Jasper and Marmite.

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What is the brilliant new initiative that you have started?
I have come up with a dog friendly scheme for shops and businesses to display stickers, indicating to shoppers whether they welcome dogs into their store or not.
It is a traffic light scheme:
Red – Assistance Dogs Only
Orange – Please Ask Inside
Green – All Dogs Welcome


What inspired you to have the idea?
I came up with the idea after visiting lots of high streets on our caravan travels (see blog http://www.jonnyandvonny.co.uk). Jon and I got fed up quite quickly with having to ask nearly every shop whether we were “allowed” in or not. 
Not only did we feel embarrassed at times having to wait to catch the eye of an assistant whilst they were serving other customers, but we were also surprised at how many shop owners said “Yes of course – you are very welcome” without actually indicating this very exciting option on their door!  To be honest, when we were all welcomed in, I would quite often make a (small) purchase out of gratitude!!
Sadly, I also knew that on revisiting towns, I would never remember which shops we could go in and out of, so the whole process would have to start again. I quickly realised that my lovely home town of Crewkerne was just the same, and so I came up with this scheme which I feel is a win-win situation for all.
What has the feedback been from shops and businesses?
Initially I’m met with suspicion by the shop owners/managers, as they think I am trying to persuade them to buy something, or persuade them to let dogs in. Of course I do try to encourage them to consider allowing dogs in, however, once they realise that I am only really asking them to display a small discreet sticker, they tend to agree and tell me that they think it is a good idea – yay!
I am currently still rolling out the scheme, but 50 shops/businesses now display the stickers and feedback has been really positive.
I am also creating a leaflet to go hand-in-hand with the scheme for visitors to the town, highlighting local walks from the town centre, top dog friendly venues, position of poo bins etc etc. This will be available in the shops and tourist information centre.

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And finally, where can people get hold of these brilliant little stickers to help the dog friendly community?
I have a website (although currently a little basic) but this tells people about my progress and if anyone would like to contact me, or order some stickers there is a Contact Page. 
I know that I would say this(!) but I really feel that Crewkerne is now worth going out of your way to visit if you are in the area, especially if you like to take your dog with you wherever you go, as we do. 
If you do visit the town, please bear in mind that there are still some shops that still don’t have stickers (but I’m working very hard on this).
In the shops that you do visit, perhaps you could feedback to the shop owners so that they know it is worth them being in the scheme and welcoming dogs into their stores – bearing in mind the risks of breakages or accidents!
I am also hoping that the town can win a Kennel Club award and I would be so grateful if you could take the time to click here and place a vote.  You’ll also see lots of other places to visit.
I would love to hear from people with any comments or ideas via my Contact Page.

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Please take a look at Yvonne’s website and check out the stickers- www.dogfriendlytowns.co.uk
If you would like to encourage shops in your local area,  if you have a shop, or know someone with a shop, and you would like to get some stickers, please contact Yvonne on her website and we can spread this around the country for greater understanding of where our fluffy friends are welcomed.

Elly & Fudge x

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