BANGKOK - If you live in Bangkok and adore cats but can't have one in your apartment, you've probably been to one of the pet cafes that dole out feline fixes for the domestically destitute. But why stop at cats? Admirers of other animals must be suffering the same yearning for furry friendship.
So now we have bistros full of dogs and even bunnies. You have a coffee and a cuddle just the same, but this time it's with a husky, for example, at Neverland Siberians on Soi Ari Samphan 2. It's a breeding farm that welcomes visitors with snacks, Japanese-style desserts and various beverages.
Chotiros Ratanabirabongse has bred huskies there for 12 years but only opened the coffeeshop last December. She figured it would be a great place for dog fanciers to meet and share ideas, and where people buying her puppies could learn about proper care.
"I always have to ensure that my customers really can love a Siberian," Chotiros says. "They come from a cold climate, so they have a thick coat, and the coat has to be kept it clean to block bacteria. These dogs are also independent, so you have be prepared for that too." The response has been heartening: The cafe's Facebook page had 25,000 followers within weeks of the opening and you really need to book a table in advance to get the most fun out of the "playground".
Shaded by tall trees, the bistro resembles a greenhouse. Up to 50 people can eat inside or outside while cooing over 20 Siberian huskies and a "token" Shih Tzu-Spitz hybrid. The fenced-off playground is open twice each afternoon, at 12.30 and 3.30.
Before entering, you have to swap your shoes for slippers and wash your hands. Chotiros introduces her lovely pooches one by one, explaining the kind of pampering they prefer. Then you get two hours of meet-and-greet, ample time for a few selfies with your favourites.
As far as the (human) food is concerned, Neverland has four set menus, ranging in price from Bt275 to Bt429 and all including cake and a beverage. Chotiros recommends the Spaghetti with Spicy Shrimp Paste and the Fried Rice with Holy Basil and Crispy Fish. The dogs don't seem to mind their visitors going off to eat, and they don't try and mooch.