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your dog’s next treat | Barkers of Clifton

I realised how worth the trip to Bristol’s notoriously well-heeled areas was, to visit Barkers of Clifton for Mack to have a five-star groom, about 30 seconds into our amble down the pavement to find the salon.

Mack is, as you eagle eyed folks will have spotted, a black labrador. There are a lot of black labradors in Clifton. There were three on the walk to the salon alone. They were all very smart, urban beasts. On the walk there, Mack was easily the smelliest. His smell was an even match for the fancy florists, the lovely candle shops, and the bakeries.

Not so an hour later. We left Barkers of Clifton distinctly easier on the nose.

My handsome dog, (for he is handsome, Labrador fans approach us to tell us so) was amazed at Barkers. I could tell he didn’t quite know what to do with himself.

Barkers, which is a national collection of shops for dogs (group aim, to be the best shops for dogs EVER, which I love). In terms of specialisms and how it makes those seeking those specialisms feel, it’s akin to Sephora, the New York beauty shop, or an old-school tobacconist which sells EVERYTHING, or the soft furnishings departments at Liberty.

Mack definitely didn’t know where to look first. Everything a dog would ever need is on display. Toys, bedding, treats, leads and, of course, balls! Mack stuck to what he knows best though – the treats display. I think this is my favourite picture I’ve ever taken of him. He’s literally savouring the smell, eyes closed, in a trance.

Mack had the 5 Star Full Body Groom, which takes about an hour, during which time you are free to leave the store. I loved the trendy, metal-framed grooming parlour with its glass walls and tiled floor. It was like a Victorian barbers with extremely clean looking equipment. Mack went in happily with his allotted groomer and, when I returned to pick him up, was lying peacefully on a special rug with a water bowl close by.

Basically, he’d enjoyed the same child-free hour of dreams that I had!

The first thing I noticed was how his claws weren’t tapping on the tiles anymore and had been trimmed really well. His coat is so shiny (four days later now) and the grooming standard is fantastic, there’s very little of his horrible stinky undercoat left. He also smells animal appropriate, more botanical than a lot of dog-grooming products.

After buying him some of his favourite treats (pig ears), we left with a no-smell spring in our step, although he did horrify the people of Clifton by carrying one large ear down the street, tail slapping from side to side. I felt proud anyway, in that weird way you do when your dog is doing something which you know makes him happy.

At £35, the groom at Barkers of Clifton was very reasonable, considering the quality and the side benefits such as not having to have my car cleaned for a while, or having to surreptitiously pick dog hair off my son’s drool-covered cheek when he’s been on the kitchen floor.

Barkers were kind enough to give Mack this one shot at being a dog of average aroma, in return for an honest review. Thank you to them for the child-free afternoon, the chance to explore Clifton Village, a place I don’t go really, and a happy, snuffly Mack.


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