This post is dedicated to the memory of my own sweet pup, Chessie.
May she rest in peace, her gentle spirit always in our memories.
Cat Cafes are popular and all the rage in Asia, but is there such a thing as a Dog Cafe?
If you’re a regular reader, a semi-reader, you may have picked up that I’m a huge animal lover. If this is your first time at my blog, now you know!
Over the last three months I’ve been traveling throughout Asia. I’ve been making it a point to visit Cat Cafes in each country I visit. Hong Kong would be no different!
Hong Kong is a giant city – it reminds me a lot of New York. Plentiful public transit, hoards of people, tons of shopping, and crowded everything. I thought to myself “A big city like this…I wonder if there is such a thing as a Dog Cafe?”
Well, as luck may have it, there is! I spent several hours yesterday petting the pooches at On Dog Dog Cafe.
Dog Cafe 101
One thing thats been taking a little getting used to for me is how Kong Hong is laid out – specifically, finding addresses and businesses. When trying to find my hostel, I had to walk down a rather sketchy looking alley way to find the elevator that would take me to it on the 4th floor.
It’s not uncommon for restaurants, like Pizza Hut and McDonalds, to be on the 4th floor in a suite like an apartment. Such was the same with On Dog Dog Cafe. I managed to find the building, walk up a sketchy staircase (complete with flickering lights like in a horror movie) and knock on the door for 1F.
The door opens and I step into a small living room where there are a few people seated at various tables. It’s quiet, most of the other patrons are watching a TV that is showing a Chinese soap opera. I’m early for my 6:30 reservation and am seated next to a group of people with two smaller dogs.
I’m given a menu and told that the owner will be here shortly. I pay the $20 fee for admission – which includes a drink, entree and side. I look around, admiring the atmosphere that surrounds me.
The walls are covered with pictures and pro-dog posters and quotes that I’m sure were well intentioned to be inspiration, but are also slightly depressing because they tell the harsh truth of life.
The group next to me has brought two of their own dogs. I had read that it was okay to bring your own dog as long they were well behaved. The smallest one, a teensie fluff ball, came over to me and the owners were happy to let me love on him. I scooped him up for a selfie and he loved it.
Talk about a lap dog – he sat on my lap and let me play with his ears until the owner arrived.
The door opens and in walks a talk, long haired Asian man surrounded by a pack of 6 huge dogs. He unleashes them and they immediately walk over to the couches and collapse, obviously just returning from a walk.
Hong Kong is bloody hot and humid. I get overheated easily here, but I don’t have any right to complain about it anymore because these poor pups have to wear coats in this heat! I can’t imagine how hot they get. Luckily, the cafe is air conditioned and they are basking in it – as am I!
I place my food order – a coke, buttered corn, and spaghetti. While waiting, I get on the ground and pet some of the dogs. I’m later joined by a husky who has claimed the windowsill as her spot.
It’s obvious the dogs know their jobs – they come up for petting and sit near the guests that have been trickling in over the last hour.
The food is wonderful, and totally hit the spot. I gulped it down so that I could return to hanging out with the dogs. They were so well behaved and didn’t even beg for a bite of my meal. The owner comes over and we chat for a bit, his english is excellent. He instructs the dogs to all sit up around me and look at the camera for the best photo I’ve got on this trip.
I’m so happy in this picture. Look at all the fluff babies! So cute, so sweet and so lovable! They’re all basically [big] teddy bears.
I spent the evening hanging out with the dogs and the staff. At one point, the video games even broke out! Mortal Kombat and Fallout both made an appearance and I begin to think about how I could live here forever.
I spent most of the time hanging out with two friends of the owner. They gave me suggestions on what to go do and see in Hong Kong. They told me how to get on the ferry, and even helped me find out when the next horse race was. I felt so welcomed.
During this time I noticed that the real owner of the cafe was a tabby that had been sauntering around. I had been warned not to pet her, no matter how friendly she appears. It’s a trap!
We talked about working, drinking, and the cost of living in Hong Kong vs. Chicago – it all seems about even. I also got to ask them about the dogs. Where did they come from? How did they get here?
One of the huskies was the pup of two of the others, but that’s not how most of the dogs came to be here. All the other dogs at On Dog Dog Cafe are rescues – straight from the streets of Hong Kong, abandoned by their owners. Turning the apartment into a cafe and charging a fee for a simple meal and loving on the dogs is a way to subsidize their care.
All of the dogs there obviously have a rough life 😉
Reaching the peak of the night, I decide to head back to the hostel. I stop at a 7/11 on the way to use their Wifi to send pictures to my mom and tell her about the amazing time I just had.
I understand America’s super tight health regulations of not having animals where food is served, but what’s the big deal really? Cat cafes are slowly starting to pop up in America, and I hope that Dog cafes can be right behind them!
If you have a pooch, I’d love to see a picture of the two of you together posted to my Facebook Wall!