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“Dog bar” is not a commonly heard phrase. However, Paws For A Beer in Fairhaven has managed to make those words a reality. Rylan and Amy Schoen opened this destination for dog owners and dog lovers...themselves included. The bar has been open since October, 2016, but as summer blisters on, the dog bar continues to be a hot destination in town. Even on a weekday nights there are packs of dogs with owners in tow. The dog bar caters to the 21 and over community. It’s easy to find a friend so going alone is no problem.

Dogs of all sizes play at the dog bar and are allowed to roam free, which makes for an entertaining scene. Photo by Raelynn Sheridan.
The bar is located in downtown Fairhaven. It’s a short drive or bus ride from Western’s campus and has hours that are compatible with a student schedule. The bar is open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and noon to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The bar includes an open and comfy indoor atmosphere with tables, couches, chairs, art work, games and bulletin boards displaying fun dog events and good dog hikes in the area. There are safety and sanitation methods put in place which include signing a waiver that confirms your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations, is the proper age and is spayed or neutered. People that do bring dogs pay a small fee to use the facilities ($5 for a day with more options for continuous visits). You are not required to bring a dog and many people without dogs join in on the fun. It’s nice to know the dogs are healthy and makes the experience unique to a public dog park with beer as a happily accepted bonus. Dogs frequently tear past customers in tail-wagging groups both inside and outside. People mingle, play games and drink a wide variety of local beer, wine and non-alcoholic options that the bar offers. The bar does not serve food but does often have a food truck parked outside on weekends. You can also bring your own food, but beware you might be sharing with a four-legged friend.
Bailey, a Siberian Husky and owner Cheryl Conley enjoy a local beer and the dog park area of the dog bar Wednesday, June 28, 2017. Photo by Raelynn Sheridan.
You may have noticed universities (like Western) have animals on campus near finals week; sometimes dogs, sometimes other pets. The idea is to reduce stress, which animals are said to do for people. The bar is a nice place to unwind and make friends with a variety of living beings. It is like simulating your own therapy session. Long-time customers Chris and Hope, who own Penny the Mini-Australian Shepherd, said they graduated from Western in 2014 and 2016 and places like the dog bar are reason enough for them to want to stay in Bellingham. They have had to get jobs elsewhere but say they always come back to Whatcom County because of the diverse activities it has to offer– like the dog bar. The bar will be serving up cold ones and fluffy faces all summer long.

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