Fringe Box



XX Notes: Guildford Shops Are Mostly Dog Friendly

Published on: 25 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 2 Jul, 2021

Maria Rayner

Maria Rayner‘s observational column from a woman’s perspective…

Money, phone, keys, mask, poo bags… the list of shopping trip essentials has grown as the lockdown puppy trend reaches the high street.

According to an article in The Times this week (Shoppies! High street welcomes dogs in bid to tempt owners into spending) retailers, desperate to tempt shoppers back into stores have noted the increase in furry friends and quietly welcomed them into their stores.

So, a shopping trip to Guildford? This was too tempting a challenge to pass up. My new pal, Ernie, no stranger to this column, is the most unlikely shopping companion. Ever. Jumping up with sharp claws, favourite hobby chewing, peeing on anything higher than a tennis ball. What could possibly go wrong?

Full disclosure: this isn’t the first time I’ve exploited my dog ownership to test a retailer’s claims for a cheap article in The Dragon.

Ernie in Metro Bank – careful not to make a deposit

Way back when, old boy Syd came to the opening of Metrobank on North Street. But the difference is, Sydney was older, well-behaved and used to strange situations. As a lockdown puppy, young Ernie has lived a sheltered life, and while we’ve tried to expose him to different situations, it’s been difficult during the pandemic.

Armed with poo bags and a list of dog-friendly stores, I dropped my son at the driving test centre and continued down North Street to Metro Bank – hoping they still admitted pooches.

They sure do! The cashier beamed behind her mask, indicating a bone-shaped bowl of biscuits. Another colleague emerged with a doggy bandana, tying it around Ernie’s neck. Yet another bank employee offered an envelope of snacks. Faced with a charm offensive, Ernie was disarmed, lapping up the attention.

Where next? I wandered through Friary Walk. Most units here are food – not a great environment for Labradors with their greedy reputation.

Ernie in Dyas

TK Maxx looked quiet so I stepped inside. Many stores have queuing systems and security guards these days. Not necessary on a Wednesday afternoon, but I suppose you never know when there’ll be a rush. The guard shook his head. Dogs not welcome there.

White Lion Walk can be a bit fussy: cycles aren’t allowed, or photography. But no, we passed by the high vis security with a wave and grin, perhaps because there’s a pet shop unit now. I spotted a dog toy display in Robert Dyas, and mindful that it was Ernie’s birthday we stepped inside.

Yes, dogs are welcome – Dyas even has a sign, not out today though. Walking past the garden section I tensed, expecting a leg cock, but no – Ernie recognised that this was “inside” and passed by to the toys. He was even allowed to “pay” at the till.

Ernie, sporting his stylish bandana, is unashamed of his middle of the road incident.

Confident now of good behaviour we doubled back to the High Street. Dogs can be relied upon to show you up in public and this outing was no different. Considering that most of the Guildford shopping area is pedestrianised, my friend decided to squat down in the middle of the road, halting the traffic while I scooped the offering into a bag.

Waterstones was on my list. Banks and hardware stores are one thing, but water and wee are not a good fit. I was assured by the staff that the bookstore has been dog-friendly for years, and Ernie was really sweet – gently sniffing the tables of new books. I love that smell too.

Next to try another clothes shop. White Stuff, Joules, Whistles were all on The Times list. Joules seems to have vanished from Guildford, and I thought I’d discover new ground.

Ernie with his mistress. Aww!

Massimo Dutti has a sophisticated French vibe and a perfumed interior. What would Ernie make of this? Either he was bored of shopping by now, or the heady scent had subdued him, but this was the best of the lot.

I nearly risked the changing room but this could have been an experience too far. Instead, I opted to try another French store: Decathlon – surely a sports store would be welcoming. But no, due to a previous ‘incident’ on the escalator, only carriable dogs are allowed.

It was time to meet my son from his theory test. We returned to Leapale Road car park, both boys having passed with flying colours. It’s great to know that Guildford is such a dog-friendly shopping town, but I won’t be taking Ernie every time – it’ll take weeks of rain to wash the stains off the lampposts.

[I found this helpful doggy blog for a list of other dog-friendly shops in Surrey: Dog Friendly Surrey Shopping – Explore OnPaw]

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