Gardener Tracy Jones reflects on our experimental Bring Your Dog to Bodnant days, which have been a great success, and says thank-you everyone who supported the trial event…and others for their patience and understanding!
So the Dog Days are over; nine days over the last three months…and what a great event it has been.
In total, more than 400 dogs have come through Bodnant’s gates accompanied by around 650 owners and their friends. They came along no matter what the weather. We had some heavy showers on the February days and snow in March but also some beautiful sunny (if a little chilly) days – the last day was one of those and the sunshine attracted more than 60 dogs and their owners.
I’ve been a gardener here at Bodnant for 11 years and love my job. I feel so lucky to spend every work day in such beautiful surroundings. The Dog Days have given me the opportunity to do something extra special too, something that involves my other passion…dogs! I have loved chatting to dog owners as they came in while handing out dog biscuits, free waste bags and the comment cards.
So a big thanks to all who took the time to fill in the comment slips. These have given us lots of feedback and I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of people thought it was a brilliant idea and were delighted to be able to visit the garden with their pets (I say pets because we also had a cat visit recently.) With all the positive feedback there’s a good chance we will be holding more Dog Days in the future, so watch this space!
Thanks also to the Dog Day regulars, folk who visited on more than one occasion over the nine days – and there’s a lot of you – your support was much appreciated.
On Saturday, March 9, we had a visit from the folk at SARDA Wales (Search and Rescue Dog Association). This brilliant bunch of people brought along their dogs and gave a great demonstration on the top lawn, explaining to visitors, many of whom took part, how their dogs search for missing people. A huge thank-you to them for giving up their Saturday to do this – hopefully they will visit us again in the future.
My final thank you goes to the visitors who came without animals! I understand that some folk don’t own or like dogs. All the visitors I spoke to seemed to understand what we were trying to achieve by allowing dogs here on special days…and that is, to make this wonderful place accessible to more people, generating more income, so that we can continue to keep the garden looking as beautiful as it does, for everyone to enjoy.
There was no ‘trouble’ on any of the days; no mess, no holes dug, no doggie conflicts of any kind. It is such a shame that not all dog owners are as responsible or thoughtful as those who visited here. In my local area, Rhos-on-Sea, dog mess is a real problem. I just hope the non-dog owners who came to Bodnant saw that all our four legged visitors were well behaved and left the gardens as they found it!
So it’s back to regular gardening for me now, until the next dog event. Like all the gardeners here, I’m looking forward to the summer and hope for a good season. Come and see me on The Terraces if you visit again, or I’ll catch you on the next Dog Day!
Left, Dylan the Giant Schnauzer with Joni Stubbs-Thrush, from Llandudno, and, right, The Thiery family from Bethesda
We are now reviewing the feedback from the trial and considering a regular programme of Dog Days for the future. Watch our Facebook page and website for more details.