At the House of Paws

The barrier to entry for opening a dog café in Bangkok is extremely low: if you have a shophouse, leaving the front door open over night with a plate of leftover rice just inside will have you going by the morning. There are a huge number of extremely fat and tame dogs on the streets of Bangkok, mostly because if you are a Thai Buddhist you can make merit by leaving them food. Perhaps because there are so many dogs in Bangkok, there are not nearly as many dog cafés as cat cafés, unless you count 7/11s as dog cafés, in which case you have no standards.

We have somehow not been to any dog cafés, I think mostly because the dog cafés were in inaccessible locations or being closed because the dogs had been biting people. House of Paws is a new entry in the Bangkok dog café scene; it is convenient to the sky train, which also means that it is full of people and that there is, on Saturday afternoon, a line to get in. There’s an entrance fee of 150 baht per person, which gets you a drink (maybe more than one drink?) and two hours of dog-petting, which is not a terrible deal as the economics of pet cafés in Bangkok go.

They have two sizes of dog as far as I can tell, big- and medium-sized. I do not know any of the breeds of dogs. Here is what I think they had: Malamute. Golden Retriever. Corgi. Beagle. Schnauzer. Curly Terrier. One of those low-slung dogs with droopy ears whose name I forget – a Baskerville Hound? Something that was kind of a half-size Collie with short legs – maybe that’s actually a Corgi? I don’t actually know what a Corgi is. Some of the dogs wear sweaters which would be ridiculous in Bangkok except that the air conditioning is jacked way up. Advance publicity for the House of Paws promised that all of the dogs were led around by a monstrous Sheep Dog. No such Sheep Dog was in evidence. Perhaps he was being groomed or walked? There were two Golden Retrievers, but no one really cares about that.

One can buy little packets of treats for the dogs – these appear to be Pocky formulated in such a way as to be delicious to dogs. Some of the dogs will catch the treats in their mouths if you drop them in their mouths, which isn’t much of a trick, though that seems to be the only trick the dogs know. The dogs seemed pleased to be getting so many treats. Maybe if you came in the evening the dogs would be tired of the attention and would want to sleep; when we arrived, the dogs were still happy to exchange attention for treats.

Every once in a while a door opens and a new dog pops out to general applause.

A sign suggests that you can bring your dog here and they will wash it. I did not see anyone do that, and I suspect that if anyone did do that all the dogs would go crazy and start fighting. But that didn’t happen while we were there.

Here is the thing about dog cafés as opposed to cat cafés: they are very blatantly transactional. You give the dog a treat or attention and the dog pretends to like you. A cat café is more ambiguous.

It is hard to get good pictures at the House of Paws, mostly because it is a tiny space crammed full of dogs and people all trying to get pictures of the dogs. But I tried. Here a dog receives attention from several people:

Here Harriet attempts, with no success, to teach that same dog to do a trick:

Many people like dogs:

Harriet pets a dog and is petted by another dog which is being petted by another person:

Probably if Bangkok were destroyed, all of it could be rebuilt by the information in this photograph:

I don’t review dog cafés, so I don’t know how it does as a dog café. As a cat café, the House of Paws is an utter failure, as it contains no cats. Sorry.

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