English Pub Culture, and The Pub Dog

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English pub culture is big.

I mean, really big.

When I arrived at the place I was to house-sit in Hampshire, the owners were sure to take me on a mini pub-crawl before they left. And in my orientation of the area, I was informed of the pubs I was to strictly avoid, as well as the ones I should make a point of visiting as part of a dizzying whirlwind drive around the country roads. In fact, a goodly section of the instructions they left for me even included directions to the local haunts worth frequenting.

No, my house-sitting hosts weren’t alcoholics.

When I was shown the sites of Winchester by a local friend, it was a similar scene. We had to visit his favourite pub in Winchester, and if it weren’t for the late start we got, we’d have visited at least one – if not two – more. In fact, he even made a special detour to drive by one of the pubs he would have taken us to if he had time…just to show us.

No, my Winchester friend isn’t an alcoholic.

This is England.

This post was originally published in 2010. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.

The bar at a charming English pub

The Pub is an institution. A gathering place. A community watering hole, if you will. And nothing illustrates this better than the Pub Dog.

While we were enjoying a pint and some “bangers at the bar” at a charming pub in charming Winchester, located on a charming street corner surrounded by charming houses, I noticed the Pub Dog.

A little scruffy thing, he was trotting around like he owned the place. In fact, he even wandered behind the bar and sat down, looking expectantly at the bartender. Once noticed, the bartender reached up for a red tin sitting on a shelf behind the bar and opened it up. Inside were a pile of dog biscuits.

Biscuits at the bar, for the "pub dog"

“Wow. That’s service with a smile,” I said, watching the scene in progress. “I didn’t even know that dogs were allowed in pubs, much less given biscuits!”

“Must be the Pub Dog,” my Mum commented.

“In fact, he sort of is,” said the lady next to us at the bar, who overheard our chat. “We live just down the street. Today, he came along with us. But he also comes here on his own. If we can’t find him at the house, we know he’s gone down to the pub! Those biscuits are behind the bar just for him.”

As if on cue, the dog finished his bone just as his owner slugged down the last of her pint. “Talk to you soon!” she said, and walked out, followed by her dog.

If I had stayed in Winchester for any length of time, I’d certainly have gone back to that pub, and am sure I would have seen that lovely lady and her Pub Dog. Or at least the Pub Dog.

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9 thoughts on “English Pub Culture, and The Pub Dog”

  1. Nothing better than a good English (or Scottish or Irish) pub. Such a good environment. Will never forget the time I met am old guy in a Scottish pub and he told me the story about him getting pulled off the beaches of Dunkirk.

  2. Great post, Nora! I was in the UK recently for about 6 months and absolutely love the pub culture as a modern day “town square”. 🙂

  3. Hey, great read! I’m from England and your right about the pub culture! Every otehr night me and my friends will be down the pub playing pool and afew pints, reading this made my day! Glad you enjoyed yourself.

  4. We have discovered restaurant or bar cats in Cambodia. Usually one or two, quite reasonable ( ie not too mangy) specimens that protect the place from vermin, hunt for scraps and occasionally entertain by wrestling each other.

  5. @Michael – Don’t forget Irish pubs either…I think the drinking culture is even more pronounced there! (Stay tuned for a post about that too….)

    @AJ – Town square indeed! When my house-sitting hosts returned from their trip, they literally dropped off their bags, and we all headed out to the pub to catch up with their friends!

    @James – What I don’t entirely understand is where the funds come from for the daily drinks…they’re not exactly cheap…

    @Frank – I’ve found restaurant/bar/guesthouse cats here in Nepal too! Maybe it’s an Asian thing…

  6. Ha-ha-ha!!! I have a friend, he is Scot, lives in Swiss. When I visited them in Spring, he wanted to show me some interesting places. After that walk, we went in a pub -a little similar to that on your photos. His wife, my friend, says, he always goes in that pub after a walk or when they go out. Now, I understand -it’s in his blood. :-)))

  7. Indeed this was my landing page, and then I started clicking. Great blog! I am kind of in awe of people living this nomadic life. I like to travel but most of travel ambitions involve going somewhere new for a few years, and riding horses 🙂 Oh, and a LOT of pub time.

    • Hi Anna,
      I think it’s a great strategy to going somewhere new and living there for a few years. I’d much rather say I’ve “lived” around the world rather than merely traveled around it.

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