A Home Away From Home for Dog Lovers in Singapore

Today we have a great guest travel piece from Anne Cooper who blogs at catobsessed.com.  She lives in Australia with her husband and two very fluffy felines.  Apart from cats, Anne loves traveling, DIYing and all things cute.

For animal lovers, travelling with your pet is always the preferred option.  Unfortunately though, that’s not always possible.  The good news for those who are away from home and miss their furry family members is that cat and dog cafes are popping up everywhere.  While it’s not the same as cuddling with your own little angel, it’s still a lot of fun.

We’re the Furballs is Singapore’s first dog petting cafe.  It’s advertised as a place where you can cuddle and play with dogs.  I surprised my husband with a visit during our Spring vacation.  He was missing his family dog back in Canada (our lives are spread over 3 continents, doggie lives with her grandparents and we live in Australia at the moment).  Usually, I drag him to cat cafes.  I’m the cat lady in the household while he’s definitely more of a dog lover, so this was a nice change for him!

Pets are well accepted in Singapore, with data from 2012 showing 57,000 dogs registered in the tiny country.  There’s no shortage of dining venues where dog owners can enjoy a treat with their furkids – Doggie Style Cafe and Happenstance Cafe are two of the most popular in the city.  Pampering options such as “doga” (dog yoga), doggie spas and even pet cruises also exist.

But for those without pets of their own, We are the Furballs is the only cafe with its own canine “employees”.  The dogs have been adopted by the owners and hang out at the cafe for a few hours per day.  Due to regulations from the Veterinary Authority of Singapore, you cannot bring your own dogs to socialise here.

As well as adopting and caring for these dogs full time, We are the Furballs works with local animal charity Purely Adoptions to help raise funds.  Every year the cafe holds a special Halloween event called Howl-o-ween. A portion of the ticket cost for this event was donated to feed, vaccinate and rehome stray animals.

You can usually find around 8 dogs in the cafe.  The term “cafe” is used loosely here – We are the Furballs doesn’t actually serve food (human food, at least, dog snacks are available for purchase).  The entrance fee does include a drink though.  You can choose from various iced teas, sodas and juices.  I had a delicious white grape juice called “Qoo”.

Speaking of fees, at the time of writing, it cost $10.90 for 2 hours on weekdays (Monday – Thursday) and $12.50 on weekends (Friday – Sunday).  If you want to stay longer than 2 hours, it’s $2.50 per half hour after that.  Definitely a little pricey, but so is everything in Singapore.

You will need to make a reservation in advance to avoid disappointment.  Although the dogs are very people-friendly, spaces are limited so as not to overwhelm them.  Children under 10 years are also not allowed as a safety measure for both dogs and kids.

The decor at We are the Furballs is very simple.  There’s a large open space for the dogs to play (although it seems like they prefer to sleep and cuddle!).  There are also a couple of tables to sit and enjoy your drink or play a board game.  You are only allowed hold the dogs if they voluntarily come to you while sitting on the floor.  The whole area was very clean during our visit.  The dogs do of course use the bathroom occasionally but it was immediately sprayed and mopped up by the attentive staff.  Blink and you’d miss it!

When we visited, it was clear that there were some regulars at this cafe.  The dogs stuck with the same few people, sitting on their laps and snuggling for the entire duration.  Lucky humans!  The staff told us that sitting cross-legged on the floor would encourage the dogs to come to us.  It worked, for my husband at least.  He caught the attention of at least 3 dogs who nuzzled and licked him.

I, on the other hand, was sadly neglected.  Maybe they could tell that I’m not used to being around dogs.  I’m not nervous around them but I never had my own family dog growing up.  I was happy when a lovely staff member took pity on me and gave me some treats free of charge to lure the dogs over.   If I became one of the regulars, the doggies would probably warm up to me.  This gives me a reason to stop by again next time I go to Singapore.

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