We’ve long been a fan of the Shoalhaven and when the local council goes to the trouble of producing a dedicated dog-friendly holiday guide, is it any wonder?
Coromandel Cottage in the Southern Highlands has been on our hit list for a while, after we spotted many glowing online reviews noting its dog-friendliness.
We finally made it up to this peaceful and private two-bedroomed cottage, on the outskirts of Berrima, at the start of spring last year. It’s surrounded by tranquil farmlands and bush, with a back deck overlooking gardens, a pond, neighbouring fields – and plenty of local wildlife. We befriended – and Harry stalked – horses, kangaroos, an echidna, rabbits and ducks.
When a holiday rental’s promotional material features pictures of pups enjoying the property, it’s a safe bet your dog is in for a warm welcome.
Sure enough, on arrival at Secret Garden Cottage in Katoomba we found an indoor dog bed, a jar of treats and even a doggie guest book detailing local walks and activities for four-legged visitors.
Late last year, Harry and I had high hopes for an action-packed first summer together. Ah, the best laid plans…
The sudden death of my dad in November put paid to any such notions and, after a brief return home to my native Britain, we have instead spent the best part of summer in hibernation, venturing out only as far as the local park.
While I would love to say Harry demonstrated an uncanny empathy for my grief, alas, he did not. Whatever my emotional state, his reaction remains the same – he brings a ball and waits patiently for me to throw it.
Him Indoors recently read somewhere that dogs yawning at the same time as their owners is a sign of empathy and affection.
Keen to put this theory to the test, he has since spent many an evening sitting in front of Harry and repeatedly flexing his jaws like a Hungry Hippo. It was enough to bore us all senseless, so when Harry finally rewarded his efforts and gave a yawn back, there was much rejoicing from everyone in the household.
It was in this new cocoon of familial love that we set off on our first holiday together.
For Harry, a car journey is one of life’s great joys (so much so, in fact, that he regularly tries to jump in the back seat of any car that stops in the street) therefore it was only fitting that our first holiday would be a road trip. The chance to watch the world go by, wind whipping back his ears… it’s bliss for a mutt in the prime of his life. The two-hour drive down the coast to the Shoalhaven also provided ample opportunity for Him Indoors to remark upon the marvels of being loved by a dog…
The other day Him Indoors looked up from spooning our dog on the sofa and remarked: “until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
Ok, so maybe he didn’t phrase it quite as eloquently as writer Anatole France (what he actually said was “I love Harry so much I want to squeeze him really tight – do you think he would bite me?”) but the sentiment was the same.
First-time dog-owner Him Indoors is bewildered on a daily basis by the fact that he has fallen head over heels for a small hairy mammal, that leaves hair all over our furniture, has questionable personal hygiene and occasionally fishy breath.
And so, given the love affair between Harry and Him Indoors deepens by the day, it was only fitting that Him Indoors’ birthday weekend would be spent somewhere man’s best friend was also welcome.
Dog-friendly accommodation can be hard to find, so we were all delighted to discover that The Langham – one of our favourite Sydney hotels – also accepts canine guests.