Melissa Speakman and Atlas head to the arc Shopping Centre in Bury St Edmunds for a pawesome dog friendly day out.
Bringing a dog into your life is one of the most amazing and rewarding things you can do, but it also turns your world upside down and certainly does not come without its challenges. One of the big issues some owners face is leaving their dog for extended periods of time if they need to go somewhere that wouldn’t typically be suitable for a dog; for example shopping. In my case I get as much separation anxiety as my dog does and would always choose to have him with me if I could!
This is where arc Shopping Centre in Bury St Edmunds comes in. They are a super dog-friendly, open-air shopping centre and part of the #dogfriendlybse campaign, run by Camp Tails Doggy Daycare, Our Bury St Edmunds BID and Bury & Beyond. Bury St Edmunds is aiming to be the most dog-friendly town in the UK and arc Shopping Centre is an important part of this. We were very lucky to be invited along to check it out with our nervous and excitable dog Atlas.
When we arrived, one of the first things we noticed was that the car-park is extremely close to the shopping centre and having the option of an open-air car-park rather than multi-storey was a big benefit for us. That way we can avoid stairs and lifts and get Atlas to the shops a bit quicker. When you approach the shops, there is a sign that explains the expectations for the behaviour of dogs and their owners. It’s great for a venue to be dog-friendly but that doesn’t mean dogs should be running around care-free to the tune of “Who let the dogs out?” by the Baha Men. So, some basic good behaviour is expected. For example, making sure your dog is on a short lead, cleaning up after your dog, not leaving your dog unattended, not jumping on other visitors (that goes for the owners too) and keeping the barking down as much as possible. We think this is a very important aspect of being a dog-friendly destination. Everyone still needs to feel comfortable, whether they have a dog or not, and even if you’re visiting with your four-legged friend, everyone needs to be on their best behaviour!
When walking round the main shopping area, you can easily identify the shops participating in the campaign, as they have a green sign in their window, dog bowls with water and some even have treats! We went into lots of different places as well as taking in some refreshments in Juice Bros and The Coffee Shop, giving Atlas a proper taste of shopping life! I won’t lie, we were a bit nervous about how Atlas would find the experience as he can be bit anxious and reactive, but we needn’t have worried because he was such a good boy and so chilled out! The people in every shop we visited were so welcoming and the staff greeted us with a smile and some even said “Hello” to Atlas, giving him some treats and cuddles. As we’d received a special invitation to visit, Atlas was given a bandana to wear and loved being an ARC VIP for the day! The atmosphere was very relaxed and because it was obvious which shops we could go in, we were able to wander around freely and let Atlas go at his own pace. Truth be told, Atlas was so relaxed that I got to actually enjoy shopping and have a proper browse, something I haven’t done in ages! We visited on a Sunday as we wanted it to be a little quieter for his first visit, so it would be worth taking this into consideration if your dog can also get a bit stressed in new environments.
We had wanted to head into Bury St Edmunds itself, but after a couple of hours of shopping, Atlas was very tired (and let’s be honest, so were we) so we decided to save that until our next visit. Visiting somewhere so welcoming of dogs made us reflect on how few places like this exist in our local area currently, so here’s hoping more towns follow Bury St Edmunds’ example! Thank you very much to arc Shopping Centre for such a wonderful first shopping experience for Atlas, we will be back soon!
@placesandfacesmagazine We sent Atlas on a special mission to Arc Shopping Centre in Bury St Edmunds. Arc is part of a town wide initiative in Bury run by @camptailsbse to make the town the most dog friendly town in the UK! Thanks to everyone for making Atlas feel so welcome. @River Island @FatFace @Crew Clothing @L’Occitane UK & IE @New Look @Hotel Chocolat @Waterstones and more! #dogfriendly #dogfriendlybse #fyp #foryoupage #dog #labrador #suffolk #burystedmunds #shopping ♬ Good Vibes (Instrumental) – Ellen Once Again