Yesterday dog and cat owners flocked to Venice to have their pets blessed at a special service at the Church of S. Francesco da Paola.
The ceremony is held in honour of St Francis of Assisi, the 13th Century Italian friar renowned for his love of animals.
The congregation and their pets were blessed by Don Filippo Chiafoni.
Many of the dogs were wrapped up in winter coats to protect them from the chill, while some pampered pooches even travelled by buggy.
One member of the congregation held up a sign urging people to protect the pigeons.
Pigeons are the unofficial mascot of Venice and can be seen in great numbers in St Mark's Square. However officials banned people from feeding the birds in the square in 2008 in a bid to control the population and minimise the damage caused by their droppings.
Love your pet so much you can't bear to be parted? Check out these great doggie-friendly establishments!
Britain for dog-lovers
Dog and cat owners flock to Venice for 'Blessing of the Pets' day
This hotel is set right in the heart of beautiful Dartmoor so you can stroll straight out into prime walking country. What's in it for the pooch? Dogs are welcome in every room of the hotel except the main restaurant but owners can take meals in the bar or lounge so there's no need to be parted from furry friends. Dog beds, bowls, buckets, sponges and towels are available and there are enclosed pet-friendly gardens and grounds and an outside tap to attend to muddy paws, plus torches for late-night dog walks. Rooms start from £75 per person per night including breakfast basis. Dogs stay free. Check out Prince Hall for more details.
The exterior of this dreamy old inn is 16th century and flower baskets hang from its mellow stone walls. Inside, you'll stripped floors, open fires and a great restaurant – the heart and soul of the inn – try the Whitby fishcakes, rack of spring lamb and glazed lemon tart with blood-orange sorbet.
What's in it for the pooch? The moors are all around: fabulous walking, and Castle Howard and Whitby await.There's a dog grooming is just around the corner! Double rooms from £150-£180, suites from £210-£260, singles from £115. To book contact www.sawdays.co.uk
At this boutique hotel in the heart of the Cotswolds, dogs are welcome in all public areas of the hotel and can stay in guests' bedrooms at no extra charge.
What's in it for the pooch? Dog beds, bowls and blankets are available and low-fat doggie treats are provided at the bar, where owners can also enjoy light meals and cocktails. For local dog-friendly things to do, check out the nearby Cotswold Water Park with its own doggy swimming beach. Guests bringing dogs are kindly requested to notify hotel reception in advance by calling 01242 527788. Rates start from £140 per room per night including breakfast. For more info visit The Montpellier Chapter Hotel.
Offering a designer hotel experience at an affordable price, Aloft London Excel launched at the end of October 2011. There are 252 loft-like guest rooms, a buzzing bar scene, a grab-and-go food pantry and industrial design elements throughout. Situated next to the ExCeL international exhibition and convention centre, Aloft London is within easy reach of the Olympic Park, Westfield Stratford City and The O2. Rooms cost from £120 per night. What's in it for the pooch? This place runs a dog-friendly programme offering complimentary beds, bowls, toys and treats to canine customers. For more information visit Aloft London.
With beautiful views over a lake and mountains, this is ideal for a luxury Welsh weekend away with your favourite pet. Until 31st January 2012 Lake Vyrnwy Hotel in Powys is offering a special two-night break for dog-lovers from £386 per couple plus one dog (Sunday to Friday, excluding Christmas and New Year). Included is two nights’ accommodation with breakfast, five-course dinners in the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, afternoon cream tea on the day of arrival and a doggie welcome pack with a walking trail map and dog chews. What's in it for the pooch? Dogs can snuggle down in private heated kennels or be accommodated with their owners in special dog-friendly rooms. (Dogs are not allowed in the hotel’s public rooms.)
This little gem appears in Tripadvisor's top ten UK hotels in the UK. What's in it for the pooch? A range of stunning walks, an on-site dog sitting service and the hotel's own ‘Dog of the Day’ website makes this an idyllic year-round retreat for dog-lovers. Furry friends are welcome at no extra charge, and the hotel’s lounges and bars are dog-friendly. Dogs even get their own welcome pack, ensuring that even pooches enjoy a pampered stay. Visit Overwater Hallfor more information.
Dating back to 1851, The Plough re-opened its doors in June 2010 after a complete refurbishment, including a new dog-friendly suite complete with a separate oak-floored sitting area, plus sofa bed and flat screen TV. There is direct access to the gardens, allowing you to nip out to relieve dogs without disturbing any other guests. Dogs are welcome downstairs in the bar where there is an open fire and log stove. The delightful viewpoint of Farleton Knott and the Barbon fells are close by and the dog-friendly Ingleton Waterfalls walk is within ten minutes' drive. Rates start from £165 per room per night including breakfast. Visit The Plough at Lupton for more information.
Built in the 1920s, Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa in West Sussex is the former home of the Guinness family.Think flagstone floors, intimate lounges and gothic windows, with 30 acres of private gardens. What's in it for the pooch? A diverse selection of canine-friendly treats, from the Doggy Menu (pigs' ears and meaty spirals washed down with a chicken flavour vitality drink are apparently firm favourites among furry guests) and a Doggie Room Service List offering grooming essentials including the edible toothbrush and The Love Glove for canine massages. Climping Beach is just five minutes away. Rooms start from £210 per room per night including breakfast, based on two people sharing. Visit hshotels.co.uk for more details.
The Thatched Cottage in the sleepy village of Hazelbury Bryan in Dorset sleeps three and oozes charm and character. A week's stay costs from £104 per person (£312 in total). What's in it for the pooch? Classic Cottages offers many dog-friendly holiday cottages across the South West of England.
Nestled around the waterfront of tiny Portloe, The Lugger hotel sits beside a slipway which offers a safe and fun-filled spot for excited dogs to paddle and jump the incoming waves while owners watch from a sun-drenched terrace perched above the water, enjoying a G&T. If the smell of fresh crab and lobster, gathered daily on The Lugger’s doorstep, doesn’t get your dog salivating it certainly will you. Room rates from £110 per night based on two adults sharing. £15 per stay for dogs, including breakfast, dog-bowl, bean-bag, Bonio and beach ball.
The Bonham offers an exclusive 'Doggy Dreams' package which includes a welcome toy and treat, and an in-room dog meal prepared by hotel chefs. Dog beds are also provided for a comfortable nights sleep, and concierge information on local parks, walks, pet shops and grooming parlours is available. Pets are not permitted in public areas of the hotel and prior approval is mandatory for guests wishing to bring dogs. Rooms cost from £170 per room per night, based on two people sharing.
This luxurious Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house hotel welcomes dogs (at a rate of £9 per night) in selected bedrooms in the main house as well as in the romantic beautifully-restored thatched cottage (sleeps two) which has its own large, secluded walled garden. Complimentary pet packs are provided, including water and food bowls, a box of tasty treats and a chewy bone, plus a map with suggested routes for walkies. Jurassic Coast beaches, which are open to dogs between October and March, are within easy reach of the hotel.
Prices start from £199 per double room per night including breakfast. Visit www.combehousedevon.com or call 01404 540 400 to book.
The Oriental, a 4 star boutique hotel located just 50 metres from the beach, boasts a funky cocktail bar and quirky interiors. Brighton is bustling with things for dog-lovers to see and do, from dog-friendly beaches and parks to grooming parlours and even three-wheeled doggy buggies for hire from £3 per hour. Brighton Dog Photography offers bespoke 'sittings' and out-of-bounds trips on to the Downs to capture the character and spirit of happy hounds on holiday. Rooms start from £89 per night.
The Feversham Arms Hotel and Verbena Spa on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors offers a 'You, Me and the dog goes free' package. Whether you're exploring the moors, coast or forest, the hotel is surrounded with breath-taking walks that both you and your four-legged friend will love. A handy guide is provided so you can plan your walking route beforehand. The hotel will provide guests with a gourmet picnic filled with delicious treats to enjoy during the day including a little something for your pet.
The Landmark Trust allows dogs at 60% of its unusual / historic self-catering properties, such as the Gothic Temple in Buckinghamshire - a self-catering folly in the middle of Stowe landscape gardens. It sleeps four and prices start at £663 for a three night weekend
For more information visit The Landmark Trust.
A beautiful 19th century building, The Grosvenor Pulford Hotel and Spa is situated in its own grounds in the quaint village of Pulford, surrounded by the Cheshire countryside but only 5 minutes' drive from Chester city centre. This four star hotel offers 73 bedrooms all with en-suite facilities, many of which are dog-friendly. Within the hotel is Spa by Kasia, the North West’s most exclusive and opulent award-winning spa, and there is also a golf course adjacent to the hotel.
Double rooms cost from £135 per night on a B&B basis.
The Milestone Hotel is a 19th century luxury boutique hotel centrally located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. With 44 deluxe guest rooms, 12 luxury suites and six long-stay apartments, the hotel offers an array of pet services, from a welcome hamper which includes a pet toy, to pet beds, cushions and duvets, dog grooming, walking and sitting services, and even an exclusive luxury pampered pet package.
Perched on the cliffs amongst 12 acres of landscaped gardens with south-facing views across Mounts Bay and the Atlantic Ocean on Cornwall's Lizard peninsula, the Polurrian Bay Hotel offers a perfect place for a dog-friendly stay with easy access to the south west coastal footpath which meanders through the edge of the property and leads down to the hotel’s own sandy beach. Rooms cost from £110 per room per night including breakfast, based on two adults sharing. (Two dogs max.)
Five-star dogs should look no further than the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London. Designed and built by the foremost Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, the historic hotel has now been lovingly and masterfully restored and is ideal for guests in need of pet-friendly luxury accommodation in London. Room rates start at £225 per night and chambers suites begin at £330 per night, room only.
Originally a mediaeval hunting lodge in the 13th century, this New Forest manor was reclaimed for royalty by the Duke of Clarence in the 1740s. Since then, Lime Wood hotel has had another extravagant makeover, giving this stately pile a serious air of perfection, with primly landscaped grounds, devotedly designed interiors, a spa and two tantalising restaurants. Pets allowed in the outside lodgings – the Coach House, Crescent and Pavilions. Rates from £295 per night.