It was a lovely walk as the weather was perfect, it was really quiet and the views are gorgeous.
I wore the Hurtta Hiker belt and used both the Hurtta training leash (reviewed here) and a cheap 10m long line. Bonnie wore her Palisades harness without the saddlebags as it would’ve been a bit too far as we are still building up endurance on shorter walks. I also made sure to pack water (for all of us) and her water bowl for breaks as we walked.
The forest had changed a lot since I last visited – it was very overgrown, there weren’t really any streams like last time and so many trees and their roots had been overturned from the wind but it’s still a beautiful forest and it was lovely to amble about and soak it all in. She got to have plenty of time “off leash” aka dragging the long line which let us capture what I think is one of Bonnie’s best photos of her recalling xD
Hehe what a little goofball! Needless to say we were all tired out from our fun adventure and maybe next time we won’t leave it for so long!
So after the eventful start to our week we had a quiet Friday then yesterday we had a little outing to Wallace Park which we had never been to before. We didn’t have an idea of what to expect but we went with the intention of playing Pokémon Go as we walked around with Bonnie as we had heard it was a Growlithe nest! As you can see below Bonnie wasn’t the biggest fan haha
It was a lovely little park and we had no bad incidences with other dogs or their owners or children so it was quite a pleasant walk. There was a little event on and there was a small petting farm set up which had the loveliest little donkey – Bonnie was okay until she was about 5 metres away then she seen it walk and look towards her so she got a little spooked, but she recovered quickly bless her.
There was a small pond at the park and as we all know Bonnie is not a fan of birds of any type and would chase them all day long if we let her so we decided to do a bit of training around them. She did great and was able to disengage on her own even only 2 metres or so away from the ducks but I accidentally let her get too close and she stuck her head through the bars of the fence to try to get at them the cheeky little monkey!
Afterwards we stopped off at Pets at Home (yes that dreaded place I said I didn’t want to support any more) as I wanted to buy a new antler for Bonnie and I don’t know anywhere else around us that stock them. Bonnie was fixated on the animals in their enclosures as usual but was very good around the other shoppers which there was quite a few of even though we specifically went near closing time to avoid others.
Needless to say she was pooped the rest of Saturday. Today we didn’t do much out of the ordinary except I started doing some mat (tea towel actually xD) training with Bonnie. I started just by reinforcing settled behaviour on the mat such as slow breaths, leg kicked out to the side, laying on her side and resting her chin on the ground. Then I started adding small distractions like crossing my legs, drinking water, playing with my camera etc with the aim of eventually being able to use the mat in higher distraction levels such as sitting at a dog friendly café. So there we go that was our week, hopefully next week won’t be as chaotic!
On Saturday we went to a rally against BSL (Breed specific law). Recently a dog has been falsely impounded as a pitbull which is a banned breed in Northern Ireland and being threatened to be PTS as a dangerous dog, the dog in question is a staffy lab cross if I recall and is a danger to no one, it’s absolutely heartbreaking and the family are trying their best to get Hank back. If you want to find out more check out this facebook page they set up – Save Hank.
The rally was held in Belfast City Centre and I set off with Bonnie in tow, with a lot of high value treats and the expectation that we would not be able to stay long because of Bonnie being overstimulated. But again Bonnie has completely exceeded our expectations, she honestly seems like a different dog these days! She was able to walk around a crowded area without pulling towards or trying to jump on people which is seriously impressive for Bonnie as she usually wants to greet everyone to be reassured. She only got excited at people who came over to specifically greet her.
She was able to settle and just watch as the world went past without whining or getting frustrated. And seriously guys get this, I sooo wish I was able to capture it on camera but I was so busy reinforcing Bonnie, she was fantastic with the pigeons. As with most city centres there were quite a few pigeons around doing their own thing and Bonnie hates pigeons, she has huge drive to chase birds in general. Now don’t get me wrong she still wanted to chase them and would if I let her, she was pretty fixated and did try to lunge maybe two or three times but that was when they got really close, maybe 2 metres away, and suddenly flew away which activated her chase instinct. But I could give her treats – she was able to turn her head away from pigeons that were maybe only 3-5 metres away and actually eat the treats. Also no whining or barking from her! Seriously who abducted Bonnie and took her place haha.
In other news, today I decided to gear up and do a first outing with the Hurtta hiking belt and the Ruffwear palisades harness.
We went our usual route up the glen near our house and had such a lovely walk, the weather was so beautiful which was great as it had been so horrid with rain lately. She was excellent walking pasting other people and 2 dogs we encountered, and had a ball exploring and sniffing everything as usual 🙂
First impressions of the hiking belt and harness are great, so far they both get a big thumbs up from me! I can’t wait to test them out more, any excuse for more adventures with my bestie ❤
The dog friendly rooms are all located at the rear of the hotel on the ground floor making it really easy to take your dog out to potty. The room was spacious, had a very comfortable king size bed along with a separate single bed and the bathroom was modern with a electric shower, over a bath, with good water pressure (I hate showers that just dribble). After we got settled we went out for a little exploration before dinner time.
We walked along the coast and the views were just stunning. I felt so refreshed and it was great to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and take things at a slower pace.
After our walk Bonnie was shattered and so we decided to let her sleep it off and relax while we went to have dinner. We didn’t want to push her too much as she already had a lot of excitement throughout the day.
As part of the offer we got a three course meal along with a bottle of prosecco. They had a good selection of food which would be sure to suit anyone’s tastes. For starters we had garlic sour dough and chilli nachos, mains were pork and buttermilk chicken and for desert we shared a strawberry cheesecake as we were totally stuffed by then. The food was delicious and portion sizes were generous.
After dinner we returned to the room and played around a bit with Bonnie, the floors are lovely thick carpets so you can play about and entertain your dogs without disturbing others. A few more potty walks later and it was soon time for bed. Bonnie was slightly unsettled during the night as it was all new to her but I think with some more practice she will be a seasoned traveller in no time!The next morning we took Bonnie with us to the main reception seating area to have our breakfast. There was a good selection of the usual continental breakfast items (cereals, pastries, cold meats etc.) as well as the ability to order fresh cooked breakfast items and hot drinks. We were still a bit full from our dinner the night before so we didn’t have much but what we did eat was lovely.
After our breakfast we packed up the car, checked out and took one last walk along the coast before we had to make our way back home. It was really sad to be leaving so shortly as we were having a brilliant time but it was a great experience and I think Bonnie enjoyed it too!I absolutely loved our trip away, I highly recommend if you get a chance to go then take it! Welcoming staff, comfortable rooms, nice food, beautiful scenery and of course being dog friendly meant it was an amazing trip and I cannot wait to come back again sometime soon! Next time we will definitely stay longer as there are more dog friendly places we want to try out in the area and to soak in some more of that gorgeous scenery.
It’s all very exciting around here as Bonnie’s first “gotcha day” is tomorrow on Halloween day, it will be a year since we adopted her from Rainbow Rehoming and what a year it’s been! A post will be coming shortly about her presents/what we done on her gotcha day and another separate post with a highlight reel of some of our favourite photos/moments since she’s joined us. Can’t wait! 🙂
I’m so excited to finally share this with you guys! This past weekend we went to stay at the dog friendly hotel Inn on the Coast in Portrush (blog post coming soon!) and we decided to stop along the way at the dog friendly cafe Pet& Country in Ballymoney for some lunch.
The sign outside was a perfect description of their hospitality, they really did make us feel welcome even with Bonnie being her boisterous self.
We went in through their shop first of all to have a look about. They had a big selection of products not just for dogs but for cats, small animals and horse riding. They had some lovely products and brands that we hadn’t seen before and I was really tempted by a gorgeous pink leather collar, maybe it’ll be a Christmas present 🙂
In the end we only ended up buying a big bag of hay for our degus but I will definitely be buying more when we come back as they had some lovely unique items I haven’t seen in any other pet shops.
After purchasing the hay we went into the café which is attached onto the side of the shop. There was quite a selection of both hot and cold food and drinks which was nice as you could get a light lunch or something more filling. I ordered a sausage roll and my fiancé decided to get a barbecue chicken and bacon toastie. They were both lovely and were garnished with some tortilla chips on the side.
My favourite part of lunch was definitely the hot chocolates. They had a selection of white, plain or dark chocolate flavours which I had never heard of before. They also had lots of different flavour syrups to add so I had a plain with hazelnut flavour and my fiancé had a white with caramel flavour. They were absolutely delicious and would be perfect on a cold winters day to warm you up.
They truly are dog friendly and you could tell the staff loved dogs and didn’t just tolerate them. They were so patient with Bonnie wanting cuddles, filled up a bowl of water straight away for her and even gave her a complimentary bag of treats!
I cannot wait to get another chance to go back to browse some more in the shop, try out the different hot chocolate flavour combinations and get more practise with Bonnie settling and being calm in new places.
Stayed tuned for part two of our trip away where I’ll be posting about the dog friendly hotel Inn on the Coast 😀
Update – Paws 4 Swim is now closed but the pool has been relocated to Aqua Dog Hydrotherapy at Moira Road Lisburn. Also another hydrotherapy pool – Paws for a Splash has opened at the East Belfast Enterprise Park. We hope to try these out sometime soon and do reviews on them.
I had recently found Paws4Swim through their Facebook page and was really interested in trying it out with Bonnie. She is a bit fixated on the pond at the leisure centre where we walk so I was curious whether she liked swimming.
It was easy to find using Google Maps (location here) and although we arrived early we were invited on into the building. When we first entered I was really impressed by the pool, it is large, big enough to accommodate all sizes of dog, and is heated to a lovely warm temperature to make it comfortable for the dog.
We filled out a form with Bonnie’s details, took off her harness and collar, and then she got a little shower to get ready for the pool. She was given a life jacket and I was happy to see that they don’t skimp out on the dogs’ safety as they use the Ruffwear brand which is expensive but excellent quality (My Review of the Ruffwear Front Range Harness).
She was lead up the ramp to the pool and was a bit wary of entering the water first of all. But soon she was in and doing a practice lap of the pool while being held. She gave us little pleading looks to begin with as it was all so new to her but we were reassured that most dogs are like that for their first time. In no time she grew in confidence and swam unaided to chase the balls.
Unfortunately I didn’t catch her name but the staff member was really friendly, professional and did a great job acclimatising Bonnie to the water and motivating her to play fetch with the ball. I also liked that they had a wide range of toys for the dogs to play with so would cater to all tastes but Bonnie’s favourite will always be balls especially ones that squeak!
Bonnie seemed to really enjoy herself after she got acclimatised, she got lots of exercise and was a happy sleepy pup the rest of the day after an initial hyper moment when we got home (staff member said this was common especially after their first visit).
As well as providing swim sessions for fun they also provide hydrotherapy sessions for dogs recovering from injuries. Overall I think it’s a fantastic facility that provides a great service at a reasonable price. I will definitely be bringing Bonnie back here.