Today, according to the internet, is #InternationalPuppyDay, so here at Happy Home Dog Boarding we thought we’d take a look at one of the biggest problems facing animal welfare today - puppy farms.
For as long as we want dogs in our lives, we will need breeders. However, for every legitimate and caring breeder, there are others who see dogs as nothing more than a way to make quick money, and don’t care about the health or quality of life of the breeding dogs or the puppies.
There are a few simple questions you can ask yourself which may help to spot and avoid the puppy farms from the loving breeders. Follow our flowchart to help with your decision, and remember that if something doesn’t feel right, listen to your instincts and walk away.
If you believe someone is running a puppy farm, contact the SSPCA (Scotland) on 03000 999 999. or the RSPCA (England and Wales) on 0300 1234 999.
Dog owners in Edinburgh are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding somewhere good to walk their dog. Here at Happy Home Dog Boarding we have the whole Esk Valley to play with, offering river walks, open parkland, hills and forests. Remember you can keep up to date with our adventures on our Facebook page.
But even if you live slap bang in the city centre, there are amazing walks just on your doorstep, or a quick bus ride away (Lothian busses are dog friendly, so long as you have them on a lead).
Over the years of living in the city centre, we narrowed down the areas we liked the best, and where we thought the dogs were having as much fun as possible. When we asked ourselves what the best places for dog walks in Edinburgh are, this is what we decided on.
Thank you to Edinburgh Dog Photography who let me use some of her photos!
10 Cramond Beach
The seaside village of Cramond on the north west of Edinburgh can be an ethereal and thoughtful place to spend time in. If you were to come at high tide, you would see nothing more than a bit of sandy beach and a small island just out into the Firth of Forth.
The views across the water to Fife and beyond can be stunning, and on a good day, you might be treated to a view of the Forth bridges.
However, come at low tide and you can get all that and much more.
Underneath the water you will see a causeway emerge as the tide retreats, giving you access to Cramond Island. This is a small, uninhabited scrap of land that allows you to look back on Edinburgh. Often, you will be the only person on the island, giving you a sense of space and isolation you can’t often get in a capital city.
This beach is quite a muddy one when the tide is out, meaning your white dog may well come back black. Bring a towel!
Word of warning though, when they say “time and tide wait for no man” they mean it. Check tide timetables or take advantage of a text service to alert you to tides.
If you do go across to the island, make sure you leave plenty of time to walk back. People can and do get stuck when they don’t plan properly!
9 Braidburn Valley Park
Nestled towards the south of Edinburgh is a park which many commuters drive past each day, but very few seem to have walked along this beautiful little valley.
Braidburn Valley Park has been visited by the public since 1933, and even boasts its own outside amphitheatre.
It's bigger than one might initially think at 11 hectares, allowing plenty of space for your dog to roam. It has also been awarded a Green Flag for excellence in parks - the first such award to be given in Scotland.
It’s reasonably secure, so is a good place to take your dog when they are getting used to exploring the world, and offers a nice steep bank you can walk along, and a river at the bottom if anyone needs to cool off and have a paddle. It’s fully accessible along a tarmac path, but with plenty of options to go off road!
This is a good walk if you want to take it easy and let your dog do all the running.
8 Corstorphine Hill
Corstorphine Hill is a 340 million year old wooded ridge that sits to the west of Edinburgh city centre. Not only has it been designated a Regionally Important Geological Site (RIGS), it is also a Local Nature Reserve.
The focal point of the hill is Corstorphine Hill Tower, a memorial to Sir Walter Scott, one of Edinburgh’s most well loved sons. The hill also shares some space with Edinburgh Zoo, and on a good day you might get a free peek at some animals.
The hill is a great place to let your dogs run free and have adventures in a wooded, dog friendly setting. To find out more, here's the Friends of Corstorphine Hill.
7 Blackford Hill
Getting to the hill is straightforward, so long as you are happy with a climb (although being a hill, the clue is in the name!).
Getting to the top is your priority, where you can take in the surroundings with a deep breath and admire the city laid out before you.
The climb isn’t too arduous – I’ve seen toddlers and OAPs tackle it – but there is no laid path all the way to the top so be aware of any accessibility issues, especially if it has been wet recently.
6 Hermitage of Braid
Hermitage of Braid is the valley to Blackford’s Hill, all existing in one area but I’m going to class them as separate walks as they can be done in isolation of each other.
As you walk down to the bottom of the valley you will soon find yourself parallel with the river, and can walk alongside it on a reasonably level path, with beautiful trees growing up either side of you.
Soon, you will come across theOld Hermitage House, the history of which goes back to the 12th Century.
The Hermitage has many paths at levels up and down the valley sides, concealing wonderful secrets like the recently restored walled garden.
Such a wonderful and calm place to walk in, with a cooling stream for you and your dog’s hot feet to cool down in.
5 Pentland Hills
Just a short bus ride out from the city centre are the Pentland Hills.
It’s very hard to nominate just one area of the Pentlands to talk about – Bonaly Country Park, Harlaw Reservoir and Flotterstone are all fantastic areas to walk.
However a lovely and little known walk can be taken from the wee village of Carlops, walking up along the River north Esk into the hills and towards the reason we went this way in the first place – the source of the river that runs past our house, the North Esk Reservoir.
Being off the beaten track, you often have all this space to yourself, giving you the chance to take in the wonderful flora and fauna in peace (assuming you don’t have a barky dog!). Fishing is possible here by arrangement, and it is a lovely place to just sit and contemplate the world.
It should be noted that when in the hills, sheep are common and in areas where they are, remember to keep control your dog on a lead. Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, a farmer can legally kill a dog in cases of sheep worrying and the owner can be prosecuted and fined up to £1000.
But don’t let this put you off. If you see livestock, put your dog on a lead and walk through – simple, really.
And if that doesn’t convince you to give this walk a shot - here’s what we did last time we were up there in the snow…!
4 Calton Hill
Back in the centre of city is Calton Hill, a wonderful and quirky hill with a ton of history and unique buildings.
I mean, where to start? The hill holds many important monuments and buildings, including the National Monument, a Parthenon-inspired but never finished monument which has sat, incomplete, for nearly 200 years. It has inspired many names for Edinburgh – not all of them complimentary – but my favourite is ‘Athens of the North’. Sounds better than ‘Edinburgh’s Disgrace’, at least…
The hill is fairly steep to climb but most people in good health should have no issues going up the path.
Other buildings worth checking out include the Nelson Monument, the old Royal High School and the Dugald Stewart monument – the round construction with pillars that you see in most photos taken from the hill.
Calton Hill is also the centre of attention for the Beltane Fire Festival, which welcomes in the summer. This is a crazy night, and well worth a visit, but probably not with your dog - lots of fire, noise and crowds don’t often do well.
And by the way, if you were looking for somewhere to leave your dog for a night, I might know someone *ahem*.
3 Arthur's Seat
Folk from Edinburgh are pretty relaxed about having a volcano smack bang in the middle of the city.
I mean sure, it’s extinct and incapable of erupting, but I’ve seen enough Hollywood movies to be worried about stuff like that.
Arthur's Seat is, however, one of the best areas to both see Edinburgh, and get away from the city so much that you’ll feel like you are in the Highlands. Such a wonderful feeling, only minutes walk from Princes Street, this is something every resident and visitor of Edinburgh should do.
There are a ton of routes you can take, from going up to see St Anthony’s Chapel, or along the Crags, or go all the way to the top for a windy view of the city.
I once went up with some friends in order to watch the sunrise and enjoy a wee tipple. I was all ready, sat in the perfect spot, when I realised how bright it had become and the sun still hadn’t risen! I then turned around and realised I had been facing the wrong way and the sun was well up in the sky.
Kids, don’t do this, you’ll feel like a fool.
2 Craig House
Between Craiglockart and Morningside sits a fantastic dog walking area with woods, historic buildings, grassy meadows and a stunning view over the city that many people don’t know about.
Napier University’s old Craighouse Campus sits, at time of writing, in a bit of a no man’s land between protection and development, but remains, for now, open to the public and their dogs.
The history of the site dates back to at least 1528, with buildings on the site dating from 1565, and over the years have been used as a private residence, a hospital and a university campus. Napier University moved out and sold up by 2013, the site now being owned by developers, with the Friends of Craighouse Grounds and Wood set up to ensure it’s lasting legacy for the community.
There are still legacies of a much busier campus, including this memorial to William Kinnimond Burton, an Edinburgh engineer worshipped as a hero in Japan who designed the country's first skyscraper and clean water systems for its cities in the 1800s.
This old campus is a beautiful area to visit all year round and there are paths throughout, although not all of them have been maintained in recent years. The future of the area remains unclear, so best get there whilst you still can!
1 Portobello Beach
Oh Porty, such a lovely place. Edinburgh’s beach is one of our all time favourite places, mainly because Sprocket loves the beach more than anything else in the world.
Even when the tide is in, Portobello is a perfectly gorgeous place, but when it is out the dogs can go wild and spend their energy beans! A popular place for dogs, there’s always new puppy pals to be made, and you’re getting some nice fresh sea air in the bargain too.
When I was a student in Edinburgh, I never knew there was a beach a mere 20-minute ride away from me. I’ve made up for lost time now though, and we take every opportunity to visit here, and also drop into the Espy for a burger!
The beach tends to be more dog friendly towards Seafield on the western side. This is also where the headquarters for the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home sits, so if you don’t have a dog and would like one, make it your first call! They also offer free microchipping for your pet, and remember mandatory microchipping for dogs was introduced in the UK in April 2016.
On the eastern stretch of the beach towards Joppa - more usually in the summer - is where families will sit and enjoy the summer (which is normally a day sometime in August!).
You are free to roam the whole stretch of the beach at any time of the year with your dog, unlike some beaches in the rest of the UK.
Portobello also hosts festivals and events throughout the year that you might want your visit to coincide with.
A shop worth paying a visit to is the exceedingly dog friendly Harry’s Treats on Portobello High Street. Pick up some lovely home-made dog snacks to treat your favourite pal on your walk.
Do you have a favourite walk in Edinburgh you would like to share? Drop us a note in the comments!
Scotland is a superbly dog friendly country, so it should come as no surprise that you can take your dog into more places than other countries. Here are 7 of the more surprising things you can do with your dog in Scotland!
1. Go to the Cinema
We can cuddle up with our dogs on the sofa to watch a good film, so why not at the cinema too?
Glasgow’s Grosvenor Cinema in Ashton Lane lets you do just that in selected screenings. So far these have included Rock Dog, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Girl on the Train, with more planned for the future.
Taking your dogs to the cinema might just blow their minds - especially if they see a forty feet tall fantastic beast hunkering down on them! But what a lovely way to spend a couple of hours together.
Check out the Grosvenor’s Facebook page for details of upcoming dog friendly viewings. In the meantime, I am looking forward to:
2. Take your Dog to Jail
3. Go to the Pub
Going to the pub is a pretty standard activity, I’ll admit to that, and in Scotland, going with your dog is becoming increasingly common too.
Many visitors to the country however are often amazed at how many pubs and eateries allow dogs onto their premises, but it just helps to create a warm, cosy atmosphere, and can be the best thing in the world after a long walk!
You have so many dog friendly options in Scotland that the ever-useful Dugs n Pubs should be your first call to finding out what local drinkeries, eateries and other -eries you can visit with your four legged friend across the UK.
Most pubs won't let your pup pal on their seats, but laps and jackets tend to be okay. Always best to check with the bar first - they might even have doggy treats back there!
And if you are looking for somewhere to have a pint whilst bettering yourself, look no further than:
4. Appreciate some Modern Art (whilst having a pint)
In the funky Newington district of Edinburgh sits Summerhall. This gallery/performance space/brewery/pub used to be Edinburgh University’s Dick Vet School, where students training to be vets would come for some top notch education.
However after the vet school moved location, Summerhall became one of the most vibrant art scenes in the city, opening in 2011 and welcoming visitors all year round - but particularly exploding with popularity during most of Edinburgh’s festivals and their own events, like this one for gin lovers.
Dogs are made very welcome throughout the site. You can stroll around a gallery exhibition, take a coffee or even a burger and a pint in the bar with your pup, and the staff might even offer up a few doggie treats! A fantastic place to chill out after a walk around the Meadows park area, which is just on its doorstep.
5. Visit a Garden Centre
There was a time - and it wasn’t that long ago - when the idea of taking your dog into a garden centre was unheard of.
But times have moved on and along with large dog friendly garden centre chains like Dobbies, smaller independent retailers like Pentland Plants and Dunbar Garden Centre have started to allow well behaved dogs on leads into their stores. You will probably not be allowed into any food areas, but it’s still nice to be able to pop in for a quick garden shop.
Do keep an eye on anything accidentally spilled on the ground though - you wouldn’t want pup to snaffle something untoward.
6. Climb a Lighthouse
the town of Tucked away in the southwest of Scotland sits the town of Stranraer, on the shores of Loch Ryan. 15 minutes along from here is one of the most unusual hotels in the world - an old converted lighthouse that still works.
Dogs are welcome at the Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel, where you can live out your old dreams of being a lighthouse keeper (perhaps with a puppet dog?), if that’s your thing.
Personally, I would be quoting Chewin’ the Fat sketches and shouting “goanny no dae that” the whole time, so would be an ultimately unbearable guest.
Looks like a stunning place to spend time with the dog though! If you have been, let us know what you thought at the bottom of the page.
7. Take a Trip on the Hogwarts Express
Some of Scotland’s scenery can only be truly appreciated in style, and such is the case of the Glenfinnan Viaduct. A stunning sight to behold form any angle, it spans 1,000 feet and sits 100 feet off the ground taking in 21 arches. To see it from the ground is one thing, but to view it from inside a stream engine, however, is a whole new level of excitement.
The viaduct is well known by Harry Potter aficionados as it is a bridge the would-be witches and wizards have to cross on their steam train to get to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
It is possible to have a “medium family dog” on The Jacobite and travel in style over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, known to most of the world as the bridge seen in Harry Potter as the kids travel to Hogwarts. If you believe hard enough, you might be lucky and not get an earwax flavoured jelly bean in your packet.
Find out more about booking onto this train at West Coast Railways.
Have you got any tips for us on where we can take our dogs? Show off your knowledge and let us know in the comments for future blog posts.
Whilst it’s always great to see dogs on the telly, it can often turn into a bit of a bark-off here at HHDB. Sprocket and Indie defend this home’s honour with great volume against any such animal on the TV, be it a cheetah, woodpecker or animated black horse. We have yet to watch any Planet Earth as a result!
I’m pretty sure if a real cheetah wandered in you would find our dogs hiding in a cupboard, but whatever.
Over the years there have been some fantastic dogs on our screens, many of which Sprocket and Indie would quite simply not allow these days! So I present to you Happy Home Dog Boarding’s top 5 TV dogs.
5. Ghost – Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is a massive, sprawling fantasy story and no, I haven’t read the books. I have no shame in that, because you don’t get to see dogs in books, unless they’re picture books and have pop-up dogs and then in that case, why bother reading anything else and where are these pop up dog books you keep going on about!?
I perhaps digress. As big as GoT is though, there is one stand-out character that has survived war, murder, slaughter and other such nonsense and to my mind should just grab the Iron Throne with his mouth – Ghost the dog.
Well. Ghost is actually a direwolf, an “an unusually large and intelligent species of wolf”, owned (inasmuch as one can own a super-intelligent wolf) by Jon Snow, one of the main characters of the show. Ghost is ultra-loyal, saving his master and friends on multiple occasions. What a good boy. I bet he chews through all his rubber duck toys in seconds though.
4. The Flash Ah-ah dog
You know, I wasn’t too sure about this dog to start with. I mean, why would a dog care if it’s dirty or not? It’s not like they keep a track of the levels of mud in the house (at least I hope not). But then a singing dog is pretty cool, and I suppose a dog who recognises cleanliness is not to be sniffed at (sniffed! Geddit? Never mind). Here’s the advert in question:
I admit to the irony that after watching an advert on Youtube about being clean, I feel dirty because I just watched an advert on YouTube. Life is surely too short for that nonsense, but there we have it. I’m a sucker for a singing dog, especially to a Queen song. #DontJudgeMe
3. Dogtanian and the Three Muskahounds
Who remembers Dogtanian and the Three Muskahounds? It was a Spanish-Japanese animation translated into English and first broadcast on children’s TV in the 1980s - although apparently it made a confusing and brief return to the BBC in 2016, during a report on President Obama. And it was epic.
At least, I think it was epic. I don’t want to watch it again for I fear it will be choppy animation, badly scripted and slow moving, but at the time it was exciting, exotic and full of action, and the action was entirely made up of dogs! I mean come on, what else does a young lad need?
Dogtanian was a adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ 1844 novel The Three Muskateers, casting the main characters as dogs, and Dogtanian had a teeny-totsy sword and there were dogs with hats on and…look, just watch this, and prepare to have an earworm for the rest of the day.
What’s not to like? And who doesn’t want to be able to slice an apple so delicately with a sword? I mean if that isn’t life goals right there in those 1 minute 48 seconds, I don’t know what is.
As to what breed Dogtanian is, I’m stumped - like an old fashioned Snoopy I guess! Any suggestions? Leave them in the comments below!
2. Sprocket, Fraggle Rock
Fraggle Rock’s Sprocket was the inspiration behind naming our own gorgeous pup, as he was just the perfect dog. Loyal, curious, friendly and funny, Sprocket kept the lighthouse keeper company on his lonely rock by the sea.
Now although the character and actor of the lighthouse keeper changed between countries, Sprocket remained consistent with his fluffy face and cheery smile and cuddly woof. Although he couldn’t speak, he didn’t need to, being able to explain all his emotions through the puppetry mastery of Jim Henson’s team. He is also afraid to see the vet when he is sick, a reaction which both our Sprockets seem to agree on.
In this clip, Fraggle Rock Sprocket displays a similar barkiness to little critters that HHDB Sprocket does when Fraggles are on the telly. It’s rather uncanny, actually…
1. Porthos, Star Trek Enterprise
And as this video shows, Porthos wasn't against Star Trek Enterprise, set a hundred years before Kirk took the helm, is generally regarded as the worst of all the Star Trek series’. In this Trekkie’s opinion, that’s a bit harsh, and was certainly cancelled just as it was hitting its stride, but it did give us one of the most wonderful relationships between man and dog…in space.
Porthos was a regular, non-talking Beagle, and was a fond companion of Captain Archer, played by Scott Bakula. Archer was often happiest when just with Porthos - something I’m sure we can all relate to, and even when he would head off on dangerous missions he would make sure someone would take care of his favourite pup.
Future history was also made when Porthos was the first dog to visit an alien planet to take a pee behind a tree. As noted in the show, he was the first to go “…where no dog has gone before”. And as this clip shows, Porthos wasn't against dealing with Ferengi invaders...
Porthos was such a star he was interviewed by the official Star Trek website, and is rather eloquent about it. I’m sure that it was published on April 1st was just a coincidence.
Over the series, Porthos was played by three dogs, Prada, Breezy and Windy. If you would like to visit Porthos, for one episode they made a prosthetic model of him which you can see at Star Trek conventions, but it’s, er, a bit weird. Here’s a photo I took of him in 2012 at the Star Trek convention in London. Poor Porthos, but don’t worry he made a full recovery!
Bonus Star Trek 'dog'!
So, er…we’ve come a long way in monster design since the Alfa 177 canine reared up on our screens in the Original Series' The Enemy Within. Thing is, nobody knows the name or breed of the dog playing the…er…dogicorn? Unidog? Something like that.
Suggestions in the comments please!
The course of human history would be very different without dogs. What if Boatswain the Newfoundland had not rescued Napoleon Bonaparte when he fell overboard? What if Pickles the Collie had never found the World Cup?! We’ll catch up with those two in future posts, but it’s safe to say our history would be much less interesting without dogs sprinkled through time.
But sometimes it’s the little things that dogs do that really tug on the heartstrings, and affect us in a deeper way we thought possible. We see their actions which can spawn legends, books, stories and even a Disney film. Just like wee Greyfriars Bobby.
The truth behind the story is somewhat disputed, so let’s start with the story most people are told.
The Story of Greyfriars Bobby
There was once a man called Auld Jock who was a night watchman in 1850s Edinburgh. For company, he took on a little Skye Terrier who he named Bobby. The two were inseparable, going to pubs together, walking the streets of the capital on Auld Jock’s rounds every night of the year, and being best of pals.
So when Jock died of tuberculosis on 15 February 1858, wee Bobby was distraught. Rather than finding another owner to take care of him, however, he snuck into the graveyard and lay by Jock’s grave for the next 14 years, eventually becoming something of an attraction to tourists and residents alike.
So great was his fame and importance to Edinburgh that when a dog tax came into law, Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, William Chambers (who gave his name to Chambers Street), paid the license fee and even supplied the cheeky chappie with a shiny new collar, which read “Greyfriars Bobby, from the Lord Provost, 1867 licensed”.
The city’s fondness for the dog meant that he was well fed and taken care of until his own eventual death in 1872. The two are buried in the same graveyard, and you can go see their graves next time you are in Edinburgh.
It’s a charming story, and one which warms the cockles. But if you want your cockles to remain a nice temperature, perhaps read no further and look at these photos of lovely dogs instead.
The Truth of Greyfriars Bobby?
Over the years, doubts have arisen about the authenticity and accuracy of this story, even as far back as Councillor Wilson McLaren in a 1934 article in the Scotsman.
It’s not the fact that there was a dog and a grave that is argued about. Dogs returning to the same spot year after year is not uncommon. A recent story from Japan highlighted a similar incident with an Akita Inu dog returning each day to greet his owner at a train station, 9 years after the owner had died.
One of the reasons many people raise a suspicious eyebrow to the tale of Bobby is that the wee dog would have been at least 16 when he died. The average age for a Skye Terrier - if that is indeed what Bobby was - today is, according to www.petguide.com, 12 to 14 years. When Bobby died, he must have been, at the very least, 16 years old. Not bad a for a stray dog on the cold Victorian Edinburgh streets.
This has led some to consider that there were at least two “Bobbys”, one secretly replacing the other after death.
This may have happened because of the value Bobby was to the local economy. As a tourist attraction, he brought a fair bit of money into that part of the town. And as far as the dog is concerned, the more he kept going to the grave, the more he was fed and looked after.
Historian Dr Jan Bondeson, in his book Greyfriars Bobby: The Most Faithful Dog in the World, believes that for Bobby, it wasn’t grief that kept him coming back to the grave, but hunger and the knowledge he’d be fed by returning each day.
Ultimately, we’ll never know the exact truth and maybe that’s for the best. Who would want to rip apart such a heartwarming story?
Bobby was so loved that, in 1873, a statue of the dog was revealed to the public.
It’s a lovely, simple commemoration that stands feet away from the graves of Jock and Bobby.
The story of Greyfriars Bobby is still told and sung about today. So much does the city still love him that there is an annual commemoration event on the 14th January - the date he died. It's a lovely service but wrap up warm - it can be a bracing experience standing in an Edinburgh graveyard in January!
Whether you want to believe the story in its entirety or not, it’s a wonderful reminder of how dogs – even totsy ones like Bobby – can find a way to survive in a harsh human environment.
In recent years, idiotic tourist guides have started encouraging their groups to rub the statue of Bobby on the nose.
This has had the unfortunate result in turning it gold, making it look like Bobby has a gold cold. It has never been considered good luck to rub his nose, not to any Edinburgh resident ever, as it is clearly destructive on such a small statue.
If you plan on touching his nose, please don’t. It’s now considered bad luck anyway, because if you touch the nose an angry wee Edinburgh wifie will chase you down the street with a stick, and nobody wants that!