It started with cats in Japan. The Japanese started creating “cat cafes” – spaces where people could hang out with a cup of coffee and some felines – about ten years ago and the craze quickly became adopted in other areas of the world. Now other animals are getting in on the fun, including the wily hedgehog, who now has a cafe opening in Tokyo (where else?)
But what about the loyal and loving dog? Don’t they deserve their own cafe? Of course they do. Now America’s first Dog Cafe is open in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake. The cafe started out as a pop-up in downtown Los Angeles but has now moved into permanent digs.
How does it work? First you pay a cover charge, a $10 entrance fee that lets you into the cafe where you can play with the pups for 55 minutes. You also get a free beverage from a cafe next to the dog area. The dogs come from the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter. They are all adoptable, so if you take a shine to one of the dogs you might be able to adopt it. The proceeds of the cafe all go toward the medical care of the dogs.
Sarah Wolfgang, the owner of Dog Cafe, said she hoped the cafe could revolutionize how people go about dog adoption. “A lot of times, the only way people can go through dog adoption is to go to a shelter,” she said. “And dogs don’t have the opportunity to show adopters their true selves.” Inside the cafe, the dogs can meet with potential owners in a much more relaxed setting, where they can show them what they like to do and how they like to play.
Wolfgang grew up in Germany and has been an activist for dog welfare her entire life. Although there are dog cafes in Europe, Wolfgang said too many of them were stocked with dogs from puppy mills. When she moved to the USA in 2014, she raised $16,000 on Indiegogo to open a different kind of dog cafe. Her Dog Cafe proudly selects dogs who have been in the shelter the longest, and also those who were scheduled to be euthanized.
A few of the first inhabitants are Bob, a Lab-Boxer, Boo, also a Lab-Boxer, Royce the German Shepard-Chihuahua mix, and Twinkie the Cairn Terrier. As Wolfgang observes, even if you don’t want to adopt, you can still visit and play with the dogs. Some people can’t have dogs at home, whether it is due to allergies or restrictive landlords, so hanging out at Dog Cafe will let them get their dog fix.
For those who may want to adopt a dog, you can’t bring your current dogs with you inside the cafe, although they are working on a way to do just that. However, you can make special arrangements ahead so your dog can meet their new sibling outside.
There has been so much interest in the cafe that people can now make reservations online. Walk-ins are also taken, with slots beginning at the top of each hour. People are encouraged to arrive 10 minutes early so they can show identification and get checked in.