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Jan 27, 2023

A round of applause for muddy paws: why dogs are now welcome

Since it first opened to the public more than a decade ago, Sculpture by the Lakes has always maintained a no dogs policy – until now.

After years of having to answer ‘sorry, no’ to the oft-repeated question of ‘can we bring a dog?’, founders Simon and Monique Gudgeon took a big decision at the beginning of 2023.

Well-behaved dogs on leads are now welcome into both the free-to-enter Maker’s Yard and the ticketed Sculpture Park, but still won’t be allowed in the Kitchen Garden and ornamental gardens.

The news has been incredibly well-received, but there has inevitably also been some curiosity around the 11-year wait for the opportunity to enjoy a dog walk at Sculpture by the Lakes.

Dog lovers through and through

Those who may have imagined that Simon and Mo’s hesitancy to allow dogs into the park was due to their dislike of ‘man’s best friend’ were definitely barking up the wrong tree, so to speak.

The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Simon and Mo have always been great dog lovers, having kept dogs throughout their lives together and regard them as much-loved companions and friends.

Some visitors may even have spotted this quote, inscribed in the ‘wise walk’ walkway:

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.”

This quote can be found near the entrance to Pippin’s Garden, a beautiful, contemplative space created by Simon and Mo in memory of their first dog Pippin, a whippet. At the centre is a sundial inscribed with her name, with a dial shaped like the head of a whippet, in honour of their sun-loving dog.

This beautiful area is Pippin’s final resting place, along with several of their much-loved dogs, and is still a favourite spot for Simon even now.

Why no dogs until now?

In fact, it was out of concern for their own dogs that they have held back on allowing others’ dogs in until now. With their house at the heart of the park, Sculpture by the Lakes is home not only for Simon and Mo – but their dogs too. Having always had rescue dogs, often with troubled histories, they have been cautious about allowing unfamiliar dogs in.

Doing so now does mean some changes, but these are compromises the couple are ready to make, and they’re excited to be able to offer this for their visitors.

As Simon puts it:

“No one knows better than us the great pleasure of having your dog by your side and how that can enhance the experience of a walk in nature, so it was always a source of regret for us not to allow other fellow dog-lovers to bring their pets here with them.

“All that changed at the start of the year, and while it was a big decision, we’ve been so pleased by the response. Dog owners have been incredibly respectful and responsible as they walk The Sculpture Park and visit the Makers Yard, which is essential for everyone’s enjoyment, and we’ve been overwhelmed by positive feedback and thanks.”

The no dog days are over

With the policy revision, the hope is that more people will be able to enjoy the special experience on offer at Sculpture by the Lakes, and more often too. We’ve already seen a rise in annual memberships among local dog owners.

So, if you’ve always regretted leaving your four-legged friend at home, let this be the year you grab a lead and bring him along and experience Sculpture by the Lakes together.

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