When you think of businesses that are not dog friendly, usually the first thing that comes to mind is food establishments. In the U.S., dogs are not allowed in any establishment that sells prepared food*. This isn't due to dog hate, but simply health codes. Some towns allow dogs to accompany owners in outdoor seating areas but that varies between municipalities.
There are ways though that businesses that cannot allow dogs in their doors, can be dog friendly. One wonderful example is Early Bird in Frenchtown NJ. Early Bird is a coffee, tea, espresso and mercantile business what serves prepared drinks and baked goods as well as an assortment of products. Because of the previously mentioned health codes, they cannot allow dogs in their establishment, but that doesn't mean they've forgotten their furry friends.
Early Bird is owned by Patrick and Kimberly Legin and managed by Carolyn Gadbois. All of them are devoted dog lovers and share their lives with their own dogs. That could be why dogs were not forgotten in the daily goings on at the shop. When you visit Early Bird you can tell every detail has been taken into consideration. For the humans, the products such as the coffee and teas are chosen for their quality and community/world focused ethics. The foods are artisan and the interior space is airy and comfortable. But because our pooches can't go inside, the outside is important as well and those details have not been overlooked.
Outside table seating is not available because of the location of this establishment but that doesn't stop customers, both human and canine from enjoying a treat outside. A bench sits right outside the front window and a tree conveniently provides shade to those who choose to enjoy the spot. Next to the bench is a water dish, freshly filled daily. If your dog is choosy about only the freshest water, the staff is happy to rinse and clean the dish and refill it. And while you might choose to purchase a locally baked treat, your pet eats free! Yes, here the dog treats are free of charge, hanging welcomingly by the front door. And these aren't just any old Milkbones either. Even the treats are specially chosen and purchased from another local small business - Yellow Dog Pet Supply.
What we can learn from a business like Early Bird is that even when dog's can't be your primary customers, they can still be made to feel welcomed, even if they have to stay outside. Other considerations establishments can make are having mobile point of sale systems to allow customers to pay outside. But whatever the limitations, every store can be dog friendly and as Early Bird has shown, the smallest details can make the biggest difference.
*I will close with a brief mention about service dogs and their exception to the limitations mentioned above. A service dog, providing assistance to a disabled person, be that disability physical or psychiatric, visible or invisible, is allowed to enter ANY establishment regardless of health codes. However there is a growing problem of non-disabled people bringing pets into businesses and claiming that the dog is a service dog. While no one has an actual right to challenge someone on the status of a dog or handler unless the dog is acting aggressively or causing damage to the establishment, the way we can curb this problem is to make businesses more dog friendly. This means access to services without bringing pets inside and assisting in making dogs and their owners comfortable outside. As Early Bird has shown this is not hard, and should set the standard for businesses in how they treat their pet loving customers now and in the future.
Your can visit Early Bird at 33 Bridge St, Frenchtown NJ. Or online at earlybirdespresso.com.
Thinking about traveling to Frenchtown? Read about how dog friendly the town is here: A Dog's Day in Frenchtown