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Tom’s Barn – is our ‘dog friendly holiday cottage’ really dog friendly?

We have always welcomed (well-behaved) dogs in Tom’s Barn, and are more than happy to do so. From time to time we have also had other pets, such as cats and parrots but by and large it is mainly dogs. With one or two notable exceptions our dog guests are usually beautifully behaved but even so they undoubtedly create extra work and sometimes damage.

We do ask that owners keep them off the chairs and sofa, and certainly away from upstairs. For owners whose dogs are reluctant to abide by the rules we do provide dustsheets for the furniture, and until recently a nursery gate to prevent enthusiastic dogs from going upstairs, but as we know ourselves, this was a real pain to fit and use and the odd dog sneaked his way up and one can hardly blame them. (Although some of you may remember one unforgetable experience here that we’d like to forget but can’t quite, yet, and we do blame that dog.)

However, our latest Visit Britain Inspector last month commented very critically about evidence of scratch marks from doggy claws on the wooden stairs and hinted heavily that this was a serious blot on our Five Star/Gold Award status… So David, our wonderful joiner friend, has come to the rescue; he has designed and built for us a lovely wooden gate (it still needs varnishing but there’s only so much we can do in five hours on a Friday) permanently fixed to the foot of the stairs. The next challenge is somehow to eradicate or disguise/hide those wretched scratch marks on the steps – more news on that score later.

So far so good on the dog-friendly score. But we have had pointed out to us by a recent guest – owner of a beautiful (and beautifully trained) Rhodesian Ridgeback I would happily have kidnapped – that on our website we claimed to have an enclosed garden. Well, I am afraid she is right, and we don’t. I was in fact very surprised to discover I had claimed that the Tom’s Barn garden was enclosed; my excuse is that I wasn’t thinking of it in terms of dogs particularly – what I meant was that it was self-contained.

Happily, the owner in question was tactful enough to say she was glad they had been misled, because they simply wouldn’t have booked had they known the true facts. They had had a lovely time and they – and their dog – were very charming guests, and they hope to come back (and we hope they do).

Meanwhile, we have thrashed around how we could make the area truly self-contained without going to the expense and disruption of building stone walls etc – any suggestions gratefully received. Meanwhile, please note, our garden is not enclosed.

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