This Side of the Pond – June 8

By Sarah Pridgeon

Here in glorious Wyoming, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy an afternoon out with your canine companion. Hike through the forests, laze by the lake, play fetch near a national monument – everything a pup could want from the weekend.

You can find plenty of green spaces in British towns, though most are packed into more humble square footage, but it hadn’t occurred to me that life might be less entertaining for hounds in my hometown until I found out about a local pub that’s doing its best to up the ante for its four-legged customers. No longer just sidekicks for their owners as they settle in for a pint, dogs can now have a pub experience of their own.

The Angel Inn is one of those country pubs that my part of the world is so good at. These fine establishments are not the same as the weekend-night-out bars we’re all familiar with, both here and back home; rather, a country pub is a amalgamation of bar, coffee shop, restaurant, hangout venue and kid’s park, all under one thatched roof.

It’s a place to buy a beer, of course, but also a venue for families who want to spend an afternoon relaxing while the kids wear themselves out on the swing set. You can order a vodka tonic if you’d like one, but you could also opt for a cappuccino after you finish dining.

Country pubs are particularly popular in the brief British summertime. On those three wonderful days of sunshine, why not combine your love of boutique beer with a table in the garden? Might as well make the most of it while it’s here, after all, because it’ll be raining again by the morning.

The Angel is a gastro-pub, which means it has a chef on the premises and an extensive menu. Such eateries usually feature a few innovative dishes alongside “British classics” such as steak and ale pie, gammon steak, ham and eggs, ploughman’s salad and, of course, fish and chips.

But what makes the Angel stand out, if you’re a dog lover, is the menu designed for canines. While a lot of country pubs will grudgingly allow you to bring your pet with you onto the veranda, this one has gone several steps beyond.

No longer must your pet sit quietly by your side, wishing there was a rabbit to chase. Your beloved companion can now enjoy a bottle of their very own beer – one that humans are unlikely to choose for themselves because it is named Bottom Sniffer. Apparently, for the cultured pup, there will also soon be white or rose wine available from a brand called Pawsecco.

The beer is non-alcoholic, you’ll be pleased to hear. So will a friend of mine, whose childhood companion once made the rounds of the house after a Christmas party and drained the dregs of sherry from every glass on every table. Mind you, I’m told it wasn’t the dog stumbling around and knocking over all the china that annoyed her as much as the fact she’d had the same plan, but wasn’t as quick to implement it as the dog.

The beer has been quite the hit with customers, however, despite being herbal infused water in disguise. Having seen my own dogs’ faces when I’ve tried to fool them into eating a bit of lettuce, I’m having trouble picturing it, but I’m prepared to suspend my disbelief.

The Pawsecco will meanwhile be “fruity herbal drinks” instead of wine. This would have earned a sneer from my own childhood pet, a miniscule Yorkshire toy terrier who had no idea he was a dog and somehow developed a taste for champagne and scrambled eggs.

Should your pup be hungry after all that beer and wine, you needn’t worry about offending him by ordering from the a la carte selection. Your pup will be able to choose from two flavors of “dog ice cream”: Old Sock or Carrot Crunch.

Again, the name is a lie. The ice cream is really low fat yoghurt and the Old Sock flavor does not contain actual hosiery. It is instead made from sweet potato and cheese, which I’m sure is delightful if you’re a dog.

It’s an innovative idea, I’ll give them that. My dogs, like so many others, long ago came to the conclusion that human food is vastly superior to their own and would relish the chance to indulge in a silver service buffet.

Whether they’d be horrified to be offered herbal tea instead of a dropped pretzel or the remains of a chicken leg is sadly something I’ll never have the chance to find out, as it’s unlikely I’ll take them with me when I visit. Still, it’s reassuring to know they’ll have something to look forward if I ever do put them through the quarantine process.

Perhaps I’ll base my decision on any new flavors the Angel introduces between now and the time of my trip. These are Wyoming dogs, born and bred, so I’m thinking “legend of the catchable squirrel”, “grass ripe for rolling in” or “there’s certain to be a prairie dog if I just keep on digging” would be much more suitable choices.