Paws for a Beer
If there are two things the people of Bellingham adore, it’s their beer and their dogs, not necessarily in that order. That was what Rylan Schoen was counting on when he opened his one-of-a-kind beer garden last November. Paws for a Beer is the only off-leash dog park and beer garden in Bellingham. The tagline: “A subdued dog bar.”
In the small space that the bar occupies there are a few sofas and high seats, as well as stools at the bar itself. The rest of the space is for dogs to greet one another and play. Out back there is a small fire pit. The idea for the drinking establishment/dog park hybrid germinated when he noticed that his own dog, Crosby, could not seem to get tired. “He couldn’t seem to sit still,” Schoen says. “My whole day was spent tiring him out.” That’s when he hit upon the idea of a place where dog owners could relax while still giving their dogs a necessary workout. He put his idea on Kickstarter, and raised $10,000.
The bar is based on a per-dog membership system. Memberships can be purchased for a day, a month, or a year, with prices for both one and two dogs. “We want people to take their dog’s behavior seriously,” Schoen says, adding that owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets. In addition, dogs are not allowed to join until they can demonstrate good behavior with other dogs.
There are no taps, Schoen says, to avoid violating health codes. About 80 percent of the beer they serve is from the Pacific Northwest. “It’s our way of keeping our roots here,” Schoen says. “Besides, it’s the best.”