Brigette and Dave Walters knew from firsthand experience how difficult it could be to find lodging that wasn’t just pet friendly, but also owner friendly.
Too often when traveling with their Pugs—Csaba and Bugsy—they ended up in rooms that were too small, had limited outdoor access, and zero floor space for food dishes and bedding.
“When you stay somewhere with your pet, you don’t want to feel like an afterthought,” says Brigette.
When the couple heard that the Mill Creek Bed & Breakfast in Old Fort, North Carolina, was available nine years ago, they jumped at the opportunity to not only run their own business and spend time together, but also to spend time with their Pugs.
“We don’t have children. I wouldn’t go as far as to say the Pugs are our kids, but we love them as much as anyone loves their pets,” says Brigette. “We consider them extremely important members of our family and our business.”
That’s why when she and her husband left their corporate jobs in Ohio to run the inn, they dedicated one of the biggest and most luxurious of the six rooms to pet owners.
The room has a separate entrance and fenced-in side yard. There are no stairs to schlep up for late-night bathroom breaks, and no shared walls in case canine guests are feeling chatty. There’s a king bed, plenty of floor space for bedding, and even a heated bathroom floor.
It’s one of the inn’s most popular rooms, even among non-pet owners.
“It’s fantastic,” says Yosafa Deutsch, who has stayed in the room multiple times with her husband and pups, Okra and Gumbo, before they passed. “I’ve been involved in pet rescue and animal health and welfare for a very long time now. So for me, it’s nice to go somewhere our whole family could be together. It’s nice to be somewhere that feels so inclusive.”
One of the reasons—well, actually, two of the reasons—Yosafa says she first decided to visit the Inn on Mill Creek Bed & Breakfast was for the “inn Pugs”. Back then it was just the two Pugs, Csaba (pronounced “chubba”; it’s Hungarian) and Bugsy, now 12 years old. Brigette and Dave have since rescued eight-year-old Rosco, as well.
The three Pugs are not just the couple’s pets, they’re also the inn’s mascots, greeters, and managers of the bed and breakfast’s “Department of Leisure,” jokes Brigette.
“Nothing inspires relaxation quite like a snoring pug,” she says.
In between naps, the dogs come to the inn’s common rooms for hugs and attention. Csaba is more social, though he can’t seem to keep his tongue in his mouth. You’ll usually find him snoozing on the office couch or chasing ladybugs. Bugsy is shyer. He likes lying in the sun, showing off his stuffed orange cat toy “Kitty” (it’s almost as big as him!), and following Dave around.
Rosco is blind, but he knows no strangers. “He’s still a little spunky,” Brigette says. “The other two are elder statesmen.”
Csaba, Bugsy, and Rosco are famous in town. Guests calling to make a reservation always want to confirm that the trio will be there during their stay.
When return guests come back to visit, the first thing they ask about are the Pugs.
“They’re much more popular than we are,” says Brigette.
The Pugs usually make their first appearance after the human guests are finishing breakfast. Everyone jokes that they like to sleep in. While Dave and Brigitte help visitors plan their day, the Pugs circle around the table, vying for pats and “oohs” and “aahs.”
They share their toys with visiting dogs, and for guests who have to leave their pets at home, they provide stand-in pet therapy. They love the attention.
“We enjoy having people here who love animals and who love dogs,” says Brigette. “That’s what makes for a great experience for everyone.”
There are a few rules at Mill Creek Bed and Breakfast when it comes to the lodging’s popular Pugs. Guests frequently ask if they can bring Csaba, Bugsy, or Rosco into their room for a little cuddle time. Sorry, the Pugs aren’t allowed in guest rooms. Also, no treats. Sure, the pups are masters of the can-I-have-some-of-your-bacon face, but they’re also watching their weight.
While the Pugs are big draws for many guests, Brigette says a huge part of the inn’s success is due to the overall pet-friendliness of the surrounding area.
Dog friendly trails crisscross the forests around the inn; the nearby city of Black Mountain, about 20 minutes east of Asheville, is home to several restaurants that welcome pets, including Fresh Wood Fired Pizza and Ole’s Guacamole; the Dark City Deli, located near the pet bakery, has a courtyard where pups can play; and shop owners always leave bowls of fresh water on the sidewalk. Everyone here loves dogs, says Brigette.
For more information, visit www.innonmillcreek.com.
Images courtesy the Inn on Mill Creek