Puppy Pub Crawl25th March, 2021
In the late 90s I was living in London, in my 20s and having a ball travelling, experiencing new people and places and partaking in my fair share of pints.
As has long been tradition, and from what I understand continues, there is a pub crawl every year on Waitangi Day (NZ holiday to honour the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the Maori and the Crown) in London. So, on the first Saturday of February all kiwis (with their auzzie, saffy and newfound British mates) gather at Baker Street to start the most epic of pub crawls that takes you along every stop of the Circle Line Underground Line.
It’s a supercharged mix of camaraderie, over drinking, laughter, a disturbance to random punters or those just trying to get somewhere, and chaos for traffic on Tower Bridge when it gets blocked for a feisty display of the Haka for all to see. It’s a pub crawl like no other and I loved it, perhaps not the next day after but it was epic.
20 years later I had an invite to another pub crawl. In western Melbourne in the bubbling melting pot of Footscray. This wasn’t like any other pub crawl though as this was a puppy pub crawl!
My Livi dog is 2, basically a teenager and as a well-adjusted adult I felt ready to introduce her to pub life.
Pub crawls are epic, and I wanted to take my best buddy to meet my new friends and their furries.
One moment to describe my Livi girl, she is a border collie crossed with Beagle, food driven, rabbit crazy and frankly adorable. She chatters like a beagle, herds like a border and is happiest swimming in rivers and doing aerobatic twists jumping for tennis balls.
I didn’t really think the invite through did I.
So, after a false start with uber pet (a very clearly ordered uber pet turned up and said no to taking us, I learned uber needs to up their game on advising drivers of who they have waiting for them) we were couriered to our first pub in Footscray!
Dogs everywhere, big smiles for our arrival and, most importantly for Livi, welcome treats were provided.
This was enough distraction for Livi (having her nose eyes deep in frozen yoghurt is always her idea of heaven) while I made small talk and caught up with new friends.
Due to our being late we were soon enough headed to the next pub. A good stretch of walking for all the dogs which provided much amusement to the locals. A much more welcome disturbance I thought than my London circle pub crawl. The afternoon however was just beginning.
At the next pub we again had dog treats and it was time for my own treat of cider!
Ok, so this is when my story actually begins.
I often let Livi have a longer lead because… she’s a beagle sniffer and I’ve had my arm dislocated enough times to reach a compromise.
In our immediate group there was 5 women and 4 dogs. 5 dog mothers. I say mothers because we were a group of women who didn’t have children, but we are all immensely proud dog parents.
Our reasons for not having children are varied.
Frida* had left her dog at home as it had recently had surgery and wasn’t pub match fit yet.
Karen* was a new puppy owner, and her cutesy bundle was quickly everyone’s favourite.
Hillary had a 2 year also who was equally food orientated as Livi but a far more obedient daughter.
Demi* also had a 2-year-old. Much smaller and a wee bit overwhelmed by the bigger dogs but equally as cute.
We sat around a round table and chaos began. Livi had got a whiff of the treats on the table and had become chief guard of said food if anyone came near it. This included growling and creasing up her top lip. This of course sent Karen and Demi into concern for their wee pups who were lifted into their bosoms. What you need to understand here is that when someone holds something just out of reach of Livi she wants to know what it is, sniff it and check on its well-being. To anyone else she’s getting in their face!
Hillary* was calm and had her furry under containment as she and Livi exchanged grimaced smiles with deep rumbles over just who owned the food within sniffing distance.
During all this, every other dog wandered past to say hello, got caught in the turf war or added extra excitement to said little dogs or partook in the usual dance of the dog lead.
At this stage it occurred to me that Frida was footloose for the afternoon and I posed the question. Does this feel like an afternoon with mum’s distracted by their children? Frida said no but I couldn’t help feeling it was a knee jerk answer and we were 100% distracted by our substitute progeny.
And then I looked around and thought, is this a sign of the type of mothers we would be?
I for one thought I’d show more discipline to my unborn children, but I was free ranging Livi like she had the paddock to herself. Hillary was the educated disciplinary and found everything a teaching moment from greeting other dogs, waiting, calming down, sitting that I instantly regretted not following up on puppy school for my unruly sidekick.
Karen as a new mum had read all the manuals and watched all the YouTube’s so had much advice which I took with a grain of salt as what would a new mother know! I didn’t recognise this new inner dialogue I was having, who was I?
Demi was the mum whose house you always wanted to go to as no matter what happens she’ll always embrace you with warm eyes and a kind heart.
Frida who had the advantage of no distraction was keenly keeping drinks topped up for all of us and catching conversation where food distracted children allowed.
And just like that it was time for the 3rd pub, thank God. Livi and I needed a walk and a serious talk about pub etiquette, why had I not thought to have this conversation with her before!
So, we made it to the 3rd pub, and I feel like I’m swinging between liberated mum and downright irresponsible.
I carefully place myself at the end of the table, which has kindly been left free for me, at the far end from Hillary’s well-behaved teenager and we managed to avoid food sightings for a full 8.5 minutes.
I have clearly worked out Livi is not a pub dog, so I take Hillary’s lead and go for walks in surrounding streets, and Livi indulges in some street food delicacies.
On our return, and I kid you not, for the next hour I was that annoying parent who had no control of their child who cried (barked) incessantly through dinner.
Yes, I was aware of other patrons watching. I had my partner come to pick us up first so I could relieve every one of my fur babies crying.
Was I sorry? Yes. Was I embarrassed? No.
If we as a group did in fact have children with us, I think I had some insight into what sort of mothers we’d be. I now know I’d be a mum who’d take my mates and their kids camping by a river. Livi would really be in her element there.
No more puppy pub crawls for me. Debaucheries yes but not quite like the 90s!
*Names changed for privacy