Dog lovers rejoice – the pups are back and ready for cuddles at popular Samford Village café, Collies and Co.
After a temporary hiatus due to COVID-19, the ‘dog experience’ is back up and running, with guests able to book in for dining alongside some very special four-legged company.
Collies and Co. Café Owner and Director Madeline Nixon tells us what makes her business Moreton Bay Tough, what it means to the community, and how it rode out recent disruptions.
“Our sessions allow people who may not be able to have a dog, who have recently lost their dog, or those who just love dogs, the opportunity to experience the positive emotions they bring out in a comfortable and safe environment,” Madeline says.
“They [the sessions] don’t just benefit our human friends, but our dog friends too. We use these sessions to help create positive experiences and it provides us with many opportunities to teach our puppies focus and to help desensitise them to a range of different things.”
The novel idea was hatched when Madeline and her family took on the former Black Sheep Caffé at Samford Village in September 2019.
“When we first began operating, I also had a litter of puppies at home that I missed dearly,” Madeline explains.
“I started to bring them with me, and they would hang out in the driveway area while I worked the day away. I soon began seeing how much happiness they would bring to our foodies, and this is where Collies and Co. was born.”
Prior to COVID-19, sessions were run in three blocks, seven days a week by the trusted animal attendants, allowing people of all ages the chance to cuddle the puppies.
“Unfortunately for our puppies, we had to cease our cuddle sessions when restrictions were put into place,” Madeline says.
However, there were plenty of smiles – not to mention tail wagging – when they were able to return to the café on May 25.
And just how have these loved-up balls of energy coped with ‘social distancing’?
“We have seen a change in some of our dogs’ behaviours due to the restricted socialisation, such as not having as much focus and wanting to run around more than cuddle,” Madeline says.
“We are taking this as a positive experience though, as it gives us the opportunity to use our skills and knowledge in dog training, and involve people in this during their visit!”
With sales taking a significant hit amid the COVID-19 outbreak, like many businesses across the Moreton Bay Region, Madeline says they had to make changes.
“We saw ourselves struggling to pay rent, utility bills, wages and our suppliers,” she says.
“Thanks to government support, we have been able to bring back staff we had to let go, however, we still struggle in many departments and value all the support from the community we have gained.”
The business switched from its traditional café operation to a more Smokehouse-style, incorporating different meal options, and even trialled takeaway.
“We have found that people love our new menu and the options it provides, and will continue this on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Madeline says.
“We also began offering takeaway, however, easily found that the travel times and fees for the Samford region were hard to manage (large distance between properties, long driveways),” she says.
To help support other smaller businesses, Collies and Co. also stocks a great range of dog products from brands L’Barkery and Django and Co.
They also sell their own homemade dehydrated treats, along with collars, leads, bows, tasty supplements and doggy beverages.
Moving into the relaxing of restrictions, Collies and Co. will offer its puppy cuddle sessions Monday to Wednesday, and continue with its booking-only policy.
“When you arrive at the café, our wonderful front-of-house staff will greet you at the gate and collect your details for our COVID-19 records,” Madeline says of the ramped-up safety protocols.
“After this, they will show you to your table that has been disinfected with soapy water and a veterinary disinfectant called F10,” she says.
Guests can then enjoy their meal from the breakfast menu while watching the dogs play in the yard, before joining them for pats and cuddles.
“During the sessions, we encourage everyone to play, cuddle and help us train the dogs. Our attendants are also awesome photographers and offer to capture those picture-perfect moments.”
Due to the increased number of pet adoptions throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Collies and Co. hasn’t been able to foster any additional dogs or pups.
However, Madeline was excited to add there is a new litter due very shortly, which is helping to keep everyone’s spirits high.
There are plenty of cuddles to go around. Here are some of the friendly faces you may encounter on your next visit to Collies and Co.
Layla - Layla is a three-year-old female black and white Border Collie. Layla is currently ‘with pup’ and due at the beginning of June. She is the ‘Mumma’ dog of the café and has a very sweet nature.
Jackson - Jackson is an 11-month-old male black and white Border Collie who is the son of Layla. He is one of the café’s cheekiest pups, but loves to show off his tricks. He is Madeline’s ‘golden child’ – just don’t tell the others!
The 4 C’s – Casper, Clarke, Cali and Claude
These four are an interesting bunch – they were all adopted by staff around the same time and without realising, they all used the letter ‘C’ to name them.
Jodi - Jodi-bean is a 10-month-old German Shepherd X Kelpie X that belongs to café manager, Hollie. Miss Jodie has a lot of attitude and sass, and never fails to make you laugh.
Stormi - Stormi is a blue merle Border Collie, and will also be used as a breeding girl once she becomes of age. Stormi loves birds, but is also very eager to meet new people.
Now is your chance to meet these loveable fur-babies up close. Enjoy a delicious meal and purchase some tasty doggy treats while you’re there.
Want to know more about supporting local businesses and the community? Head to our blog.
Another producer with strong links to Samford Harvest, and doing its part in keeping the local supply chain alive and well, is Millen Farm.…