Mutts big and small, long haired or short, daft or smart, enrich our lives with their happy-go-lucky demeanour, endless love and their uncanny ability to figure out you’ve opened a packet of crisps from within a 5-mile radius. Recent research suggests that dog owners live longer and healthier lives too – and seeing as stroking a dog actively reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone), we reckon dog owners are a happier bunch too. Here’s how to have fun with your mutt on the Merseyrail network. Top tip – there’s no pass for pooches, dogs travel free!
Take them for a doggy beer at The Caledonia
The good folks at The Caledonia in the city’s Georgian Quarter know how to treat dogs (and their humans too!) This community pub has long been a haven for city slickers with dogs and they’ve embraced this tradition by stocking pup pints (yes, really) and goodie bags full of healthy and nutritious treats for dogs. We wouldn’t recommend having a dog beer yourself, but there are plenty of brew options for non-canines too, and they also do some of the city’s best vegan junk food. They’re easy walking distance from Central and Lime Street Stations, so no excuse not to stretch those limbs – your mutt could even be featured as one of their inspirational dogs of the week! Check out their Twitter for more.
Treat them to pupcakes at The Wagging Tail
The Wagging Tail Café in Southport is just as committed to serving up treats for dogs as it is to cooking up delicious breakfasts and lunches for humans. Treats like puppiccinos, pupcakes, dog ice creams, dog beer and banana and peanut bones are made safe and nutritious for canine consumption, and your pal can also get a full meal (especially handy if they’ve been running around on the beach all afternoon!) Lunch or an all-day breakfast for humans can easily come in under £6 (and that’s including a hot drink), and there’s a dedicated kids menu too, in case you want to treat the other pups in your life.
Tackle Formby’s dunes and trails
Formby is a pooch paradise, full of incredible walking trails and wildlife, and rounded off with one of the best beaches in Britain. It’s incredibly easy (and faster than you think) to get to from the city centre too, with regular trains from Central and Moorfields stopping off at Freshfield which is a short walk from Formby’s fabled woodlands and beach. We’re very lucky on Merseyside to have a beautiful National Trust beach that’s unrestricted for dogs year-round – doggy bags are even available at the entrance kiosk! They do ask that you keep your dog on lead while on their red squirrel trail, so please do respect their wishes if you head along to this wonderful conservation site.
Make some pals in Sefton Park
Head to Sefton Park on any sunny day and there’ll be at least ten dogs for every person there. OK, maybe not but that’s what it feels like, and we love it. As Liverpool’s vastest park, there’s 235 acres for your bud to explore, and hundreds of other dogs to meet. It’s the perfect place to socialise a young pup and let them burn off some energy, and there are some great dog-friendly establishments to refuel on the short trip back to St Michael’s Station. Our top tip? A mixture of café and bar, Milo’s Lounge on Lark Lane offers a stellar brunch menu which is served all day, as well as some mouth-watering mains and tapas. It’s kid friendly too, with colouring in activities for the little ones.
Learn about rehoming at Freshfields Animal Rescue
If you’re looking to welcome a dog into your family (FYI, they will definitely become one of, if not the most important member of your family), then rehoming is the best way to go. The team at Freshfields Animal Rescue have a number of dogs who are looking for their forever home where they’ll bring you nothing but endless love and laughter. Finding the right dog for your household is important and can be a tricky process but ultimately it’s more than worth it, and the staff and volunteers at Freshfields will be happy to speak to you about this – online, over the phone or in person at their centre. They also regularly look for volunteers and foster homes and accept donations: find out more about the incredible work they’re doing here. You can also support their work by heading to their charity shops in Ormskirk and Southport, which are must visits for book and music lovers.
Enjoy the beach in Crosby
Every owner can remember taking their dog to the beach for the first time and Crosby’s seemingly endless stretch of sand is a wonderful place to take your pooch for some outdoor pursuits. Beautiful scenery, no cars, lots of fellow dogs and a whole host of interesting smells certainly make for perfect dog walking material. Hop off the train at Waterloo and take the quick, five-minute walk to the coast. From there you can amble along the beach and maybe even follow the coastal walking path all the way to Hightown. We do feel a bit sorry for Anthony Gormley though – his much-celebrated Iron Men statues often find themselves, ahem, ‘marked’ by most mutts.
Get there with Merseyrail
Whatever you decide to do with your best friend friend, get there by train. Our return tickets start from just £2.05 and you’ll never pay more than £5.20 for an off-peak ticket. Train travel is cheaper than you think!