Café Country & Portrush Trip

During our time off earlier in the month we decided to pay a return visit to Pet & Country Dog Friendly Café and Pet Shop. It is a fairly long but lovely drive to the café with some beautiful scenery. I can never seem to capture the true beauty of it from the car, maybe next time we will stop to take some proper photos!

Lush rolling hills

We had a look around the shop and then ordered a hot chocolate and a tray bake each. We had the hot chocolates the first time we came here and they were as delicious as we remembered! Bonnie settled well and the staff member who served us was lovely. We asked her to please ignore Bonnie as she can get overexcited and she listened to our request and didn’t try to make kissy noises, distract her from settling down or try to convince us it’s fine (whereas a lot of people try to interfere even after asking them not to).

Learning to settle
Yummy treats!

Afterwards since we were already quite far from home we decided to drive a little further out to go to the seaside town of Portrush. We had a dander through town and went over to the pet shop Pets at the Port to have a little nosy. They had a pretty good selection but we just bought a Frozzy treat for Bonnie as it was quite warm out.

Down by the sea
Happy to be surrounded by food! Pets at the Port
Taking in the scenery
Enjoying her Frozzy!
She got a bit too into it!

After Bonnie finished her treat we decided to walk further through town to the park that we had our re-enactment event at over the summer. I can’t even begin to describe how impressed and proud I was with Bonnie. She was able to walk past probably 100 people in close proximity. She walked past kids, adults, slow elderly people, people sitting outside a café and eating. And even more impressive was she did it mostly on a loose lead! This would’ve been unthinkable even a few months ago!

Bonnie being a total star

After all her good behaviour and great impulse control she was able to have a break and have a bit of fun off lead in the park. We mostly played around but did some recall training and I also did some work with “premacking” chasing birds. This meant that I asked for her to perform a cue then I would give her “permission” to go chase the pigeons nearby – the hope over time is that she will look to me for a decision when she sees a bird rather than immediately go to chase it. The great thing was after giving her access to one of her favourite things was that she actually kept coming back to re-engage with me as I was having fun with her rather than constantly restricting her.

You seriously gotta zoom in on this photo – her face is hilarious!
Chilling out and taking it all in
Recall in action
Panoramic shot of the park

After our fun at the park we travelled back through town to the fish shop. We bought a fish supper to share between us and went to sit down by the beach to eat it and enjoy the fresh sea breeze. I don’t think eating battered fish and chips get much better!

A very patient doggy waiting outside the fish shop
Family photo before we tuck into our food – just a bit windswept here!
Digging in the sand

After I had my fill of the fish supper I thought I would leave my partner to enjoy the rest while I went down onto the beach with Bonnie. As she was behaving so well on an off lead I thought I would let her drag her leash and have a relaxing stroll along the beach with her. Unfortunately Bonnie had other ideas!
As soon as the leash hit the sand she spied a seagull and immediately took off! I hopelessly run after her shouting her name “Bonnie! Bonnie come here!” She takes absolutely no heed completely absorbed in her mission, the seagull flies off and Bonnie stops for a second. “Bonnie over here!” She spots the sea and it’s waves lapping onto the beach and sets off at full speed again. I’m still shouting and running after her – god can she run fast – terrified that she will start swimming out to sea as she loves water and swimming whereas I am the weakest swimmer you can come across!
She finally slows down tracking along the water’s edge and I get close enough to grab for her lead – got it! Then I realise the elderly man nearby was laughing his head off at the whole thing. And I look back to see my partner just calmly eating the fish supper (he said it was like having popcorn at the movies xD cheeky sod). Needless to say she stayed on lead for the rest of the time!
After all that adventure it was a long journey home and a very tired pup and 2 humans!

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Pet & Country Dog Friendly Café and Pet Shop

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.

Pet and Country pet shop and dog friendly café in Ballymoney
Love the funky pink sheep!

The sign outside was a perfect description of their hospitality, they really did make us feel welcome even with Bonnie being her boisterous self.

Bonnie the Border Collie practising her focus training at Pet and Country pet shop and dog friendly café in Ballymoney
Practising some focus

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 🙂

Bonnie the Border Collie smiling at the Pet and Country pet shop and dog friendly café in Ballymoney
Hehe I got cuddles from the staff

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.

Bonnie the Border Collie looking up to get some food at Pet and Country pet shop and dog friendly café in Ballymoney
It’s more comfortable than it looks…

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.

Bonnie the Border Collie posing for the camera at Pet and Country pet shop and dog friendly café in Ballymoney
She loves posing when food is involved

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.

White hot chocolate with caramel syrup flavouring and plain hot chocolate with hazelnut syrup flavouring at Pet and Country pet shop and dog friendly café in Ballymoney
Best hot chocolates I’ve had in a long time!

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!

Bonnie the Border Collie settling beside her water bowl at Pet and Country pet shop and dog friendly café in Ballymoney
Think Bonnie likes her pretty bowl

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.

Bonnie the Border Collie relaxing in her Savic Crate in the car
Where to next?

Stayed tuned for part two of our trip away where I’ll be posting about the dog friendly hotel Inn on the Coast 😀

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New Coat & Trip to Red Brick Coffee House

I recently bought the coat that I featured in my Dog Accessories Wishlist, I was going to wait until her birthday but I got it early so I could start getting her used to it for rainy walkies. It has actually been pretty good weather recently but I’ve taken her out on a few walks wearing it and so far so good she doesn’t seem to mind it.

Bonnie the Border Collie looking at the camera while wearing her new pink Ancol City Coat, waiting to cross a road on a dark morning
Waiting to cross the road on our morning walk, hate these dark mornings now 😦

I’m pretty pleased with it, it has reflective strips around the edge and on the waist straps, is fleece lined but not too thick so she shouldn’t overheat and has back leg straps to help keep it in place. Updated – I have tested it thoroughly in rain now and really impressed with how much less towel drying is needed compared to when she doesn’t wear it. The only negative point so far is that it’s a bit too big in the chest for her as it slips down but that’s not the coat’s fault. She just has a slim chest so will need to put some stitches into it to make it tighter.

Bonnie the Border Collie wearing her new pink Ancol City Coat, it's too big on the chest so is slipping down
Please hurry up and fix this mommy, I look ridiculous!

Also on Saturday we took a little trip to the Red Brick Coffee House after training. It’s a dog friendly café near Ballymena that allows dogs inside and outside.  We decided to sit outside as Bonnie can be a bit overexcited around people, she thinks everyone loves her and wants to greet everyone, it’s been probably our worst area for training as when she does get to greet people everyone except me and my fiancé reinforces her jumping and excitement as “she’s cute” or “she’s light so it doesn’t bother me”.

Bonnie the Border Collie laying down underneath a picnic table outside at Red Brick Coffee House
My ear doesn’t look silly does it?

We reinforced her for laying down calmly under the picnic table we sat at. Also any time she looked at other people and looked back we made sure to reward with treats. We kept the experience positive and most importantly short, she can get overstimulated easily so it’s always important for us to end an experience when she’s still on good form.

Bonnie the Border Collie laying down underneath a picnic table outside at Red Brick Coffee House
You mean I get treats just lying here doing nothing? Awesome!

I’m very proud of her and all the little bits of progress she’s made, when we first got her, nearly a year ago now, she would’ve been way too overstimulated and probably wouldn’t offer the calm behaviour in that situation even for high value treats. We will definitely be doing more trips to dog friendly cafés and restaurants to help with her training, we also have our first overnight stay at a dog friendly hotel coming up on the 23rd of October, so very excited for that and I’ll definitely be doing a blog post about it!

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