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Trials of travels with a furry friend

So the World Sheepdog Trials are coming to town.

Well, to Tain, in the Highlands, specifically, but it's the first time the triennial competition has been held in Scotland. At the beginning of next month, dog handlers from 25 countries will arrive with their furry charges and, in preparation, Visit Scotland has been flagging up our dog-friendly establishments.

Changed days. When we first got Mac, we felt like unwelcome pioneers of the bring-your-dog-on-holiday movement.

I'll never forget bursting into a hotel in the back of beyond desperate to use the facilities. After two cups of tea and one long and winding road, I had one thing on my mind on arrival. No-one was at the check-in desk so I made a bolt for the Ladies and left Mac holding court in the reception area. On hearing the door open, a staff member had appeared a few minutes later to the sight of an empty reception, save for Mac with his two front paws up on the desk, snuffling the free mints. Pas amuse.

With pooch in tow, we've spent many an afternoon hunched outside a pub with the smokers. Once, I think it might have actually started to snow when a kind waitress sneaked us in the fire exit to let us finish our drinks in an empty dining room.

Now, of course, we have added bambino to the equation, which, it seems, has increased the number of establishments from which we are now barred.

The other week, we were poised to book up for a mini-break in the Lake District, when the words "baby son" fell from my lips. An awkward silence descended. "Oh I'm sorry. The hotel is only open to over-18s," came the response. "But if you and your husband could leave your baby with someone else..." Yeah, because that's the point of our first family holiday; to leave one-third of our number behind. I found my mind drifting as she uttered the phrase "comfort and relaxation of our other guests". Fair enough with the dogs, some folk are allergic, but no kids? It's like those toe-curling couples-only resorts that honeymooners feel strangely compelled to book. I've never understood the appeal. I don't want to be a member of a club where the other members all tick the same demographic boxes as me.

So we might take our chances and head north to see the world's most talented mutts in action. Maybe they can teach Mac to follow commands. On the other hand, he can probably coach them in the etiquette of fine dining and how to conduct oneself in the residents' bar. If only.

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

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