The National Memorial Arboretum doesn’t normally allow dogs within the grounds, so when we found out that they were hosting an event specifically for dogs, we just had to be there!
Paws for Remembrance is an annual event that offers the opportunity for dogs to explore the 150-acre Arboretum, which is home to more than 350 memorials paying tribute to those who have served, sacrificed, or suffered on behalf of our country.
There is a large car park as you arrive on site (£3/ day charge), adjacent to the main reception building where we found the registration desk. As we checked-in we were given a special event guide with a map of the Arboretum, highlighting all the key points of interest along the 5km walking route.
The event started at 9am so there were already quite a few dogs at the Arboretum, with more arriving every minute. Altogether, approximately 200 dogs were expected to attend this event! Everything was very well-organised and we found our way around quite easily.
As we started walking along the route we headed straight towards the centrepiece of the Arboretum, the Armed Forces Memorial. Here, over 16,000 names of men and women are listed, each of whom have lost their lives in conflict, as a result of terrorist action or on training exercises since the end of WW2.
Unfortunately, dogs were not allowed to go up to this particular memorial and I’d love to say that Elsa waited patiently for me with my husband while I went to have a closer look, but she yelped and whined like I was never coming back! She wasn’t alone though, as many couples took turns waiting at the bottom of the stairs while their partners went to investigate, the cries of the dogs echoed all around.
This particular memorial is magnificent, beautiful and humbling.
We let Elsa take the lead as we continued along the route. The Arboretum is home to approximately 30,000 trees and if Elsa could have stopped to sniff every single one of them I think she would have, but we settled on a compromise of letting her sniff the ones lining the pathway.
We let Elsa take the lead as we continued along the route. The Arboretum is home to approximately 30,000 trees and if Elsa could have stopped to sniff every single one of them I think she would have!
Instead, we settled on a compromise of letting her sniff the ones lining the pathway.
This is the sort of place that you could come back to several times and always find something new. Our highlights included the Royal Veterinary Corps Memorial (pictured above) and the landscaped garden area that ran alongside the River Tame.
One thing that we didn’t know before today’s visit is that there is actually route that runs on the outskirts of the Arboretum that is open to dog walkers all year round (but dog’s are not normally permitted within the grounds).
We walked for approximately 90 minutes before heading back to the Remembrance Centre where we found the ‘Happy Hounds High Street’ where we found a selection of market stalls selling dog treats and accessories. There was also a portrait artist and a Greyhound charity stall.
The PDSA were also on site, offering free MOT health checks for dogs and general pet care advice along with demonstrations of emergency pet first aid.
This area was very busy so, although the coffee shop was open to dogs, we decided to head home and put our paws up...
We commend the National Memorial Arboretum for offering dog owners the ‘oppawtunity’ to explore more of this site with their beloved pets, even if it is just for one special day each year. We’d love to see more venues across Britain adopting this progressive attitude towards dog friendliness!