It was a rather early start on a rainy Saturday morning – so I must surely love my darling dog Alfie! Trains and tubes took us – fuelled by coffee and dog biscuits – across to Holland Park tube station and then we walked about ten minutes before we reached a small area of independent shops.
Clarendon Cross Canines looks a bit like a toy shop from the outside – the window display is filled with little wooden dog cut outs (we later learned that these are all based on the Pomeranian/Chihuahua cross Ginger who belongs to the owner Aaron) on scooters in parkas. The window display changes every few months – the next one will feature a bi-plane and parachutes.
On entering the treasure trove of doggy goodies adorning every surface – across the mat that looks like grass - the large modern white reception desk dominates the view, with its Chanel-like three Cs logo on the front. Aaron the owner welcomes us and while Alfie sniffs about I am shown the black and white photo display on the wall showing that his great, great grandparents first owned a dairy in the area in the 1880s, then a newsagents and then later generations had greengrocers and haberdashers nearby.
They’ve been in the dog grooming business for some 15 years so I felt quite comfortable allowing the lovely Nadine to take Alfie downstairs to start his hour long pampering session (£25 for a small dog – this includes a bath, blow dry, nail clipping, ear cleaning, eye and toe hair trimming and the sorting out of even more private bits if necessary).
My eye is caught by the bright enamel dog tags by Tagiffany. And I browse the assortment of plush toys, chews, bowls, carriers, beds and the latest arrivals – Hi-Viz toys in colours that make it easier for colour blind canines to find and Stogs (based on Top Gear’s Stig).
There’s every type of dog food imaginable – the main brands such as Royal Canin and James Wellbeloved and organic Lily’s Kitchen. It is also the only London outlet for a unique Norfolk blend called Salters. I am shown some soft Elk collars from Scandinavia and allowed to adore a sparkly motorbike motif on a Kentucky dog jumper.
I pop downstairs to see how Alfie is getting on and pass the glass fronted holding areas for dogs of varying sizes and meet regular client Dash – who is the largest American Great Dane (with a stunning sable coat) I have ever seen. He is GORGEOUS. And even though he is only a year old he is beautifully behaved and utterly friendly. Looking into the large wet room, Alfie is being tended by Nadine and a chap expertly wielding a hairdryer. There’s another grooming table nearby and one of those huge changing height dog baths.
Back upstairs another customer arrives – accompanied by a calm Jack Russell and an impossibly delicate miniature Pinscher. Every dog is treated like royalty here. As Alfie was still being pampered, I was invited to join Aaron as he took Dash for his pre-grooming walk. Like I needed to be asked twice! I am used to people stopping me to ask about Alfie (because he is a truly cute tri-colour long haired Chihuahua) but to know what it’s like to walk with a real star you need to take out a Great Dane - This dog is adored by everyone!
On returning to the shop, I am presented with Alfie who not only looks like a million dollars but smells good too. We take another look at the marvellous cornucopia of dog stuff – spying a small area of goodies for cats and small animals in the corner – before setting off down the street with that “just been to the salon” bounce of confidence.
As well as grooming, Clarendon Cross Canines operates as a drop off centre for dogs whose owners are popping into the nearby Shepherd’s Bush Westfield Shopping Centre or into the City for an important meeting. There’s even day care and home boarding facilities for overnight stays.