As a student who very much misses her dogs during term time, I jumped at the opportunity to review Newcastle’s latest gimmick: the dog café, suitably named ‘Dog and Scone’ and situated just off Bigg Market.
I was given this chance by the ‘Give it a Go’ team at the Union; an organisation dedicated to providing students with the discounts and transport necessary for them to try new, exciting activities around the city. They kindly invited me on a session for which they had booked the entire cafe, just for the group of attending students, in the early evening.
The evening began as we convened outside the Union, before being registered and walking down towards the centre of town. It was bitterly cold, but the short walk wouldn’t merit using a minibus, and was over before I knew it. The group was made up of several pairs and trios, some of whom knew each other from previous ‘Give it a Go’ events. It seemed like the organisation has done a good job of creating a friendly, welcoming community which encourages students to return more than once, after enjoying their first experience. There were also a couple if people who had come alone (myself included) but this didn’t stem the flow of group conversation and everyone seemed to enjoy meeting new people, and found that they had some things in common.
Upon our arrival, we were enthusiastically greeted by a group of waitresses and a pack of excited dogs. It was ensured that our hands were clean before we entered, and as we went in were introduced to Mo Mo, Laughing, Noodle, Yuki, Coffee, and Sugar. They were of varying breeds, sizes and temperaments, but all very friendly. The staff offered us a free drink and, later, a slice of red velvet cake (which was incredible).
The ‘Give it a Go’ representative who was essentially our chaperone was friendly, and seemed to know everyone taking part. It felt more like a group of friends had gone on an outing than an organised university activity- which I imagine is a draw for some students, as no one would enjoy feeling they were back in secondary school, on an organised trip.
The dogs really were adorable; Noodle, a dachshund puppy new to the business, was a personal favourite. As it was the evening, a couple of the dogs were sleepy, and therefore happy to cuddle on the laps of the students, much to the latter’s delight.
The staff were happy to answer all our questions about the dogs, and we learned about the varying dynamics in the canine relationships, as well as hearing anecdotes about each dog.
What impressed me most was the smooth nature of the ‘Give it a Go’ operation. The leader was confident and sociable, and every student seemed to enjoy themselves immensely.