No dogs decision for newly built Levengrove Park café is barking mad

Linda Speir and her dog, Baxter, looking a mite disappointed at the No Dogs sign in the cafe at Levengrove Park. Pictures by Bill Heaney and Michael Moffat.

By Bill Heaney

It’s a shocker for every dog walker. For every dog owner in Dumbarton.

West Dunbartonshire Council, in their own inimitable fashion, have done it again.

The SNP administration appear to be looking around for people to upset.

And there is no more dangerous a group to upset than dog walkers.

Wha’ dares meddle wi’ them?

The new pavilion in Levengrove Park looks terrific.

It opened today and The Democrat was ahead of the game with exclusive pictures by Tom Gardiner.

The park café project had been the subject of snide comments and sarcasm because it has taken too long to complete the work there.

The Democrat published the pictures and praised it, giving details of the opening times (10am until 4pm every day of the week).

We expressed our doubts some time ago when the project was originally mooted by the Council.

Would it be a success? Would be able to make money?

We now know the answer to those questions, having read this from dog lover Linda Spier on social media: “I understand that the new pavilion in Levengrove Park finally opened today.

“A real slap in the face to those who regularly use the park as the cafe isn’t dog-friendly.

“I have to wonder how it’s going to survive considering the park is normally deserted apart from dog-walkers.”

Inevitably, Linda, who is an active community councillor, has people queuing up to support her.

One of them, Lee Martin, said: “I’m glad it’s open but I don’t see why it’s not a dog friendly cafe… they haven’t really thought that through. Dog walkers make up the majority of folk in the park after all. “

Chris Lawton growled: “Really makes me cross to hear things like this. It’s difficult when you have dogs to find a decent cafe at the best of times.”

And Kate Erskine, straining at the leash, added: “Totally agree Linda. It’s predominantly dog walkers who use the park. Very disappointed 🐾.”

West Dunbartonshire Council refuse to answer any questions from The Democrat most probably because we publish stories like this, but they haven’t given us a reason.

I guess we’ll be consigned to the dog house for even longer now.

We cannot give you the council’s side of the story of course since they won’t speak to The Democrat.

The new Levengrove Park Cafe where dogs are NOT allowed. Pictures by Tom Gardiner.

As the week goes on, more people want to have their say on the No Dogs situation at Levengrove Park Café.

Nicola McColl said: “It’s a disgrace. Their loss as id use it weekly with Rolo. So they’ve lost my trade as I won’t be visiting.”

Robertson IainFormer SNP council leader Iain Robertson described the whole thing as “a bit short sighted”.

And he agreed with Linda Speir who said it was “a lost opportunity, especially when the whole venture has been so costly”.

Mr Robertson, pictured left,  added that he “visited Callander in January and counted at least three dog friendly cafes, it’s a no brainier for businesses”.

Michelle Wallace said: “That’s a shame Linda. They have lost out big time. Noticed yesterday even Jenners is now dog friendly.”

Linda Spier agreed with her and added: “Lots of places are becoming dog-friendly. I think with so many businesses struggling, they see this as a sensible way to go.”

Doreen Cochran said: “I am aware people are allowed to take their dogs through Jenners. The cafe doesn’t allow dogs unless as of this week it has changed. They will put tables and chairs outside under the canopy.”

And Alannah Maurer added: “Another park we won’t be visiting then … back to Balloch and Mugdock then.”

Linda Spier said she had learned that you can sit outside the cafe (at Levengrove) with your dog (seating with hooks on the back to hook your dog to).

But she added: “I still think this is a poor show as we hardly live in an outdoor climate.”

Nicola McColl supported Linda: “Exactly and the principle. It’s in a park that’s used by dog walkers more than any other demographic. [This is] a bizarre decision that will cost them as after all we’re the ones out in rain, hail or snow!”

Naturally, some people expressed doubts about having dogs in places where people eat.

Chris Pollock said: “I am a dog owner and all for dog cafes but not everyone wants to sit in a cafe with dogs. Some people are allergic or scared of dogs. I’m not personally fussed about sitting outside with a coffee. Think it’s good the park is a much better space than in recent years.”

And Gwen Onllwyn Jones said: “I am scared of dogs. That is because I was bitten by one as a child – I walked past a house by use of the pavement, and a dog came up the drive and bit me, with no provocation from me at all.

“It takes me a lot of self-calming to walk past any dogs. I wouldn’t necessarily want to sit in a cafe with them.

“I suppose that I just wouldn’t go into a cafe with dogs in it unless I had to. It isn’t that I don’t like them from afar, however.”

Compromise was what Linda Spier suggested. She said: “Why should elderly folks who go for a saunter round the park with their dog be forced to sit outside in this weather?

“Perhaps a fair compromise would be to section off part of the cafe for people with dogs.”

Fiona Robertson gave her point of view: “We welcome dogs at my work. We are lucky to have lots of space though. You do have to be mindful of people with allergies but I just ask anyone already sitting if they have any objections and then seat the dog accordingly.

“[I have] honestly never had badly behaved dog in. I guess owners know themselves that their dog will behave or they wouldn’t bring them in.”


  1. The excellent Pavilion Cafe provides for (and encourages) dog owners.

    There is a sheltered deck, with seating and even ‘Dog Parking’ Hooks on the benches .
    I consider the Pavilion Cafe IS dog friendly.

    The disadvantages of allowing dogs inside a small eatery are many, and I would have thought rather obvious .

  2. I agree with you Jim, but some of the dog owners, as you can gather from the comments above, are not happy with this situation. If the operators of the cafe wish, The Democrat will give them some FREE advertising, but we can’t stop people saying what they think. This is a free country and we here at The Democrat, unlike West Dunbartonshire Council, are ardent advocates of a free press. Editor. They should send their ad to

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