A visit to Pets Pantry on Boroughgate, Appleby.

By Oliver Swann, Editor  

It's not often you find yourself witnessing so much genuine kindness that you feel instantly at home, completely forgetting you've actually stepped into a shop. That's what you should prepare yourself for when you visit Wendy's Pets Pantry on Boroughgate in Appleby.

I stepped into Wendy's store to be instantly entertained by two dogs, Fred and Maggie, who had only just met but were already inseparable, a bit like you might remember The Two Ronnies.


While Fred and Maggie were figuring out their next routine, Wendy (Fred's owner) and Boba (Maggie's owner) were chatting away. I was welcomed to the conversation and by the time it had somehow leaped into Scandinavian languages, a couple entered the shop looking for red squirrel food. Their stay nearby was to catch a glimpse of one of our Beatrix Potter-like characters before they returned home the next day. Had they been staying another week they would have bought a bag of hazel nuts to tempt a squirrel down from the trees. Rather than sending them away nutless, Wendy opened a bag of hazels, grabbed a generous handful and gave it to them; enough for their last day in the valley. Flabbergasted by the gift they left with high hopes of catching sight of their first red squirrel.


Meanwhile, in walks Ollie and his owner. Ollie is a tall and slender Border Collie cross Spaniel that towered over the smaller Fred, a Patterdale Terrier, who in turn out reached the even smaller Maggie, a Border Terrier. The three dogs paused for a moment to size each other up before exploring the pantry together instantly reminding me of the sketch by John Cleese and The Two Ronnies .

With the door hardly getting a chance to close after Ollie's entrance, in walks Fred, one of Wendy's regulars, to buy a bag of grain for the town's ducks. Appleby's ducks are not unknown to behave like Beatrix Potter characters too, following people around as if they don't think they're ducks at all.


Now the door gets a brief respite and Wendy and I find a moment to talk. She shares stories about some of the wildlife and pets pictured on the 'wall of fame' that's on display just behind the shop's counter. Amongst the pictures there are some of red squirrels she's caught on camera and others of otters seen nearby on the banks of the Eden that winds its way around the town.

That day I left Wendy's shop with far more than I intended. I left with a real sense of community and respect for someone who has a deep relationship with people and animals.

Pets Pantry is well worth a visit, even if only to buy something to feed the ducks and squirrels.