My name is Willow, and I’m a Coton de Tulear – it’s okay, no one else has ever heard of us either – from Doncaster, and I’m Phileas Dogg’s newest and youngest Rover Reporter. I might be only four months old, but this hasn’t stopped me from getting out and about and exploring the country, sniffing out some dog-friendly days out with my owner Hannah.
My biggest adventure so far was in the bustling city of Leeds. That’s one big city for a dog as small as me!
Many people know that you don’t have to go far outside Leeds to find a doggy paradise – the Yorkshire Dales, walks galore, and plenty of pubs that welcome customers of the four-legged variety – but I was heading into uncharted territory, to report back to all Attlee’s readers on the mystery that is Leeds City Centre. We were visiting Hannah’s younger brother Matt who’s studying Chemistry at Leeds University. I don’t know what that is but it smells pretty weird from what I can gather. Anyway, I went with Hannah and her best (human) friend Laura on the train from Doncaster on a dreary March morning for the 35-minute journey to Leeds. It wasn’t my first train journey – believe it or not I’m already a seasoned train traveller even at such a young age, so I took it all in my stride and slept happily on Hannah’s knee till we got there. Matt met us in the station and I got VERY excited as I hadn’t seen him for so long, and gave him a good ol’ face wash to show just how pleased I was, and that I didn’t mind the funny shaped beard he was growing, even though Hannah didn’t seem quite so keen.
We set off walking through Leeds City Centre – now I’ll warn you that this is not for the faint-hearted dogs out there. It’s very hectic with people rushing about everywhere and noisy with traffic and busy roads to cross, and you have to make sure you don’t get stepped on. Luckily, I’m a brave little dog and I’d already had some practice of surviving a city centre in Sheffield, so I trotted along with confidence. I might be small but a big city doesn’t scare me!
First we headed to the shops: Hannah had to help Matt buy something for their mum for Mother’s Day, so I had to stand outside with Laura a lot. This gave me the chance to observe that there aren’t many dogs in the centre of Leeds, but there are a lot of pigeons. I did try to play with them – they were at my level after all – but for some reason they always flew off when I got close.
Hannah would like me to point out here that there are lots of seats in the town centre, ideal for our humans to have a rest when they’re on the waiting-outside-shops-duty. There are even some seats with funny looking dog statues on them, presumably to make up for the lack of real dogs in the city and try and cheer everyone up. A place without dogs – so depressing!
Anyway, shopping complete we headed up towards the universities, where it was busier than ever with all the students milling around. Hannah and I had excellent tour guides in Matt and Laura (who used to go to Leeds too) so we got to see all the nice bits of the campus. I even got to sit on the famous Parkinson Steps!
We wandered around for a little while: I reckon Hannah and Laura were secretly trying to cling onto their student days, even though they graduated in the summer they seemed pretty smug when they were asked to vote in the student union elections!
All the real students did present an extra obstacle to our walk though. Now I don’t mean to brag, but it’s true that I do tend to leave a trail of awww’s behind me wherever I go. What can I say? I’m a puppy – we come with the aww-factor built in!
Add to that that I’m tiny and fluffy – well, you’ve seen my photo. Cute may as well be my middle name!
So I can never walk very far before someone stops to fuss me, and this was even more apparent among the crowds of young and excitable students. If you, too, are blessed with the cute factor, you should probably work this into your timings when planning a day out in Leeds.
I needed a break from my admirers so we headed to Veritas Ale and Wine Bar, a dog friendly bar and restaurant. Veritas didn’t disappoint in dog-friendliness – all the staff came to admire me as we walked in, and then I was left to sleep in peace under the table whilst my humans enjoyed a lovely meal. Hannah says the food was excellent – not cheap but worth it – and Hannah’s coffee even came with a mini chocolate brownie much to her delight. Apparently this is a sign of a very good restaurant.
Matt then had to leave us to go and do some experiments, so us girls went for another walk. I liked the big open space of Millennium Square, but best of all was Woodhouse Moor Park, only a little way from the city centre and much quieter, with plenty of space to run around. If you want to walk a little further from the centre of Leeds then you’ll find Hyde Park, an even bigger oasis of green to enjoy.
Matt rejoined us and we went for a final stroll along the canal to Clarence Dock, a rather cosmopolitan area of Leeds. It was again less busy here, so a much more pleasant walk for me, but it turned out to be rather exciting as a Fire Service Training Exercise was taking place! There were firemen everywhere – I was very excited to see giant human-shaped dog toys being dragged out of the water, but for some reason Hannah seemed much more interested in the firemen.
We also went past the Royal Armouries Museum. It’s free entry for humans but no dogs allowed – I don’t reckon much to that! But you can at least look up through the big windows and see a display of swords and things and there are canons outside to sniff up.
Finally it was time to head back to the station to catch the train home; I was well and truly cream-crackered. I slept all the way – hey, give me a break. I’m only a puppy and we need a LOT of sleep. Besides, the hectic pace of Leeds could tire out even the most athletic of dogs. But all in all it was a successful trip, and my verdict is that Leeds can be a dog friendly day out, as long as you know where to look.
*Hannah also wants me to add that there were plenty of bins throughout the city – so if, like Hannah, your humans have the rather odd habit of picking up your you-know-what’s and carting them round in a bag then at least they won’t have to carry it for long.
- University of Leeds, Parkinson Building, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, LS2 9JT; www.leeds.ac.uk
- Veritas Ale and Wine Bar, 43 Great George Street, Leeds, LS1 3BB Tel: 01332442809; www.markettowntaverns.co.uk/veritas
- (For those of you with babies in your pack, children are welcome till 9pm.)
- Woodhouse Moor Park, Woodhouse Moor, Hyde Park, Leeds, LS1 1PL