Our pack of expert judges have the ruff task of crowning our UK National winner of Rover’s Dog-friendly Pub of the Year, selecting from our 12 regional winners, which are decided by your votes.
We sat down with each of our judges to find out what they look for in a dog-friendly pub and why they are proud to be a judge for the Rover Dog-friendly Pub Awards.
Sarah has been judging the awards for the past 4 years so she knows a thing or two about dog-friendly pubs. She’s not just a dog lover – she’s a dog expert! Heading up the team as Editor on the nation’s best-selling dog magazine, Your Dog, it’s fair to say Sarah has her finger on the pulse of dog owners and their beloved pooches.
So, Sarah, as someone who hunts out great dog stories professionally, what’s the most memorable, heartwarming or funny doggy story you’ve come across?
There have been so many! The funny ones are often hilarious, but the ones I remember most are those that illustrate dogs’ innate loyalty and devotion, and their ability to overcome terrible abuse and mistreatment. We have a story running in the December issue of Your Dog about a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, who was abandoned in a crate on wasteland and basically left to die. The story of his rescue and recovery is incredibly moving — it made me cry — and is a testament to the courage, resilience, and optimism of dogs.
Dogs really are incredible animals. Why do you think it’s important for pubs to open their doors to pooches as well as their regular pub patrons?
“More and more of us consider our dogs to be part of the family, and so where we go, we want our dogs to go too. It makes sense for pub patrons to ensure well-behaved four-legged customers get a warm welcome — it’s a win: win situation.”
That’s so true, our furry friends are definitely family! So what are the key things that you look out for in pubs to ensure they are making their pub a second home for pups?
There’s a big difference between being really dog-friendly and merely being dog tolerant. It’s the little things that you notice most — like having dog biscuits behind the bar, a cosy space for the dogs to lie down in, and drying towels for wet and muddy paws. The welcome your dog receives on arrival is often a bit of a giveaway, too.
So you’ve become a bit of a pro when it comes to judging the awards over the past 4 years. What makes you proud to be part of the Rover Dog-friendly Pub Awards?
We’re delighted to be supporting the Rover Dog-friendly Pub Awards, and Rover.com’s initiative to promote dog-friendly values across all pubs nationwide — inspiring dog owners in the UK to discover and visit their local pubs. We already know, from research carried out by Rover.com, that many people would like to spend more time with their dogs, and many pets can benefit from the socialisation opportunity that visiting a dog-friendly pub can provide.
As you said, we have found from our research that going to the pub has a lot of benefits for you and your dog. For your point of viewIn, what does your ideal pub look like? And what are you ordering at the bar?
It’s very olde worlde — beams, wooden floors and an open fire. I’m ordering a ‘dirty dog’ cocktail (cognac, vodka, orange and cranberry juice) to match the real dog at my feet — my very hairy, muddy Norfolk Terrier, Albert!
You mention your terrier, Albert, so we are intrigued… If you could match your personality to a dog breed, which breed would you pick and why?
I’d love it to be something glamorous like an Afghan Hound or a Saluki, but in reality, it’s more likely to be a terrier of some sort!
Voting has now closed in the Rover Dog-friendly Pub Awards. However, you can still explore the range of pubs we have on our website. Head to the dog-friendly pubs’ page to find your new friendly local and maybe add a few more to the list.