Ruff play: Dog creche opens at shopping centre

Amy Ruickbie, Skye the dog and Sue Shihor. Picture: Jane Barlow

Amy Ruickbie, Skye the dog and Sue Shihor. Picture: Jane Barlow

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It’s a colourful cabin, filled with toys and equipped with a climbing frame – but this new creche at one shopping centre isn’t bursting with temperamental toddlers.

Instead, it’s entertaining a bunch of bouncy pooches who get to socialise and play while their owners have lunch, shop or catch up with friends.

Dogmore Play – which claims to be Scotland’s first dog creche – opened its doors last Monday and has already welcomed a number of small pets for their daily play fix.

Susan Shihor, the owner of the new centre located beside the main entrance of Ocean Terminal in Leith, said the new service provides a safe environment for dogs while their owners are using the shopping facilities.

Mrs Shihor said: “I came up with the idea about a year ago when I kept noticing dogs tied up outside shops. If people are in the shopping centre for an hour or two, it is a long time to leave your dog outside, and you often hear of pets being stolen as a result of this.

“So, I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was a creche that kept dogs warm and safe?”

Mrs Shihor decided to turn her idea into reality and with the help of her husband Nir, and her son Jonathan, 22, the family transformed the portable cabin at the entrance of Ocean Terminal into a play heaven for pooches.

The creche – which caters for small dogs of any age – boasts a climbing frame, a slide, windows on the ground, a selection of doggy toys, an outside play area and a sleeping corner.

Mrs Shihor added: “For £5 an hour shoppers at Ocean Terminal can leave their 
pets in our care for a little while.

“Dogs aren’t just getting to play in the creche. It’s a great opportunity for them to exercise and socialise with other animals at the same time.”

Amy Ruickbie, 23, from Musselburgh – an assistant at Dogmore Play – said her miniature schnauzer, Skye, loves the new playground.

She said: “Skye’s been enjoying running up and down the ramps, and going down the slide.”

Dennis Jones, the manager of Ocean Terminal shopping centre, said: “I stopped by to say hello the other day and there was the cutest dachshund in there.

“Earlier in the week there was a little pug too, it just puts a smile on your face.

“Dogmore Play is a great initiative for customer service.

“It’s good to see something different and I am sure it is going to be a great success.” The new creche has also been welcomed by animal welfare chiefs.

Susie Rabin, Dogs Trust campaign director, said: “Dogs Trust welcomes initiatives that mean dogs aren’t left in cars while their owners are out shopping.

“It can only take a few minutes for a dog to suffer the effects of being left in a car as dogs can overheat quickly and be at serious risk if left for only a short time.”

The dog creche comes on the back of the Capital’s cat cafe, which proved so popular in its original Stockbridge home that it had to move to bigger premises in the Grassmarket.

Maison de Moggy is inspired by hugely popular ventures in Japan where visitors can spend an hour cuddling kittens over a cup of tea. It operates like a normal cafe with the team constantly bringing out mouth-watering cakes to the customers – prepared in a cat-free zone at the back.

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com