Barking Blondes: The health of the Hound Pound
A spokesperson for the store told us “Harrods confirms its Pet Kingdom department, located on the Fourth Floor, will close to make way for further exciting planned developments in our womenswear.”
Britain is a nation of animal lovers so this news has shocked suppliers and pet owners alike.The store had a tradition of housing or sourcing four legged friends. It once also sold monkeys, exotics and lions.
Who can forget the very famous story of Christian the lion? Bought from the store in the Seventies by two men living off The Kings Road, Christian soon out grew his environment and was released back into the wild. Never forgetting his original owners this story resulted in literally millions of hits on YouTube.
Despite the recession people are still spending on their pets. The pet industry is up 7.5 per cent year on year. Also pet ownership is growing with dogs and cats neck-and-neck at about 10 million each, filling 54 per cent of households in the UK.
Only three years ago Pet Kingdom was launched taking over the entire top floor. As the largest department of its kind in Europe and the most exclusive, it also contained a pet spa offering pet pampering in a different league offering doga, massage, pawdicures and a wash and blow dry. Pet Kingdom offered deluxe pet accessories, a doggy deli, a fancy dress room, a wall of fame.
In the 1930s Harrods used its basement to house the first ever pet crèche long before New York City took over the trend for doggy day care. Over the years the pet department expanded as the demand for pet accessories grew. The sale of puppies and kittens caused puppy farming campaigners to target Harrods as setting a bad example in an age when selling dogs and cats in pet shops is considered to be supporting the ‘puppy farm’ trade.
So many, may be relieved to see the department close. For us, though, the saddest piece of news this week was to discover Regents Park’s Honest Sausage has closed. This little gem of a café right in the heart of the royal park was a popular haunt for all local dog owners.
We wrote about it in our book Barking Blondes as it was the meeting place we would bump into dog lover Julian Clary. It was where you could buy yesterday’s left over sausages at a reduced price for your dogs. Known as a “dog plate” our two dogs would race towards the chalet café at the end of a long walk, knowing their exertions would be rewarded.
Well now it’s boarded up in preparation for, a no doubt, more lucrative catering franchise. All of us locals are cynically waiting for the “No DOGS ALLOWED” sign to spring up. Thereby ending what was once a lovely, local, spontaneous, dog friendly meeting place.
The sign though remains…”Honest Sausage…honest spirit.”
Bit of a porkie… that
‘Barking Blondes’ by Anna Webb & Jo Good, published by Hamlyn, £12.99hound pound
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