I don’t own a dog. I probably never will. I have a kid and they are enough work. That being said, many of you have dogs and I know many (all of you?) drink beer. There’s plenty of places on the Tap Trail that allow you to have dogs on premises, but my amateur understanding of the canine species is that they like to run. A lot. Being tied up or controlled is against their nature.

A few days ago Rylan and Amy Schoen opened up Paws for a Beer, Bellingham’s first off-leash dog beer bar. According to Rylan, there’s about six of these businesses in the US. The idea came to him when he took his dog, Crosby, – a black lab border collie mix – out for a pint, only to have him stressed out by not being able to run around. He’d often be drinking a beer with Crosby tied up to the table, per house rules. Crosby’s anxiety would rise and he wanted to build a place that would make he and his dog happy.

Rylan is also a professional photographer. He works a bit with Mount Baker Ski Area and uses his services for Google’s Street View. All of the awesome photos on the walls are his. When you’re searching a business in Bellingham on Google and you “walk” around the inside of a business on your computer? Yeah, that’s because of him. Amy is a kindergarten teacher at Promise K and will be working at the bar when school gets out.20161025_135245

When the building on Fairhaven’s Harris Avenue, near the Amtrak Station, became available he jumped at the opportunity to start his own dog friendly beer bar. Paws for a Beer is on a 12,000sqft lot, which is plenty of space for your dog (and you) to run around while sipping from their fine selection of craft canned beers. They got the business running after the help of a few investors and a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Right now, they offer cans from Aslan Brewing, Kulshan Brewing, Wander Brewing, Silver City, Sockeye and Black Raven. There are also 22oz bottles of Black Raven. You can by six packs of great craft beer for only $10 as well. No glass is allowed on premises to protects the dogs, so if you’d like your beer poured they have plastic cups available. They also serve wine. Because they wanted to be dog friendly, they had to follow the Health Department’s regulations, so there couldn’t be any containers that needed to be washed. Hence, no taps.

Paws for a Beer has two fenced in areas. The largest of which is for dogs to run around, the smaller one is the beer garden. You can buy canned beer inside, walk outside to the fenced in backyard and play with your dog. Right now the dog’s fenced in area is an open field. Rylan says they plan to purchase agility equipment for it, as well as landscape the beer garden. They also have doggie bags available to clean up after your dog. He plans to put in lights in the dog area as well as a covered stucture in the beer garden, just in time for our winter season.

They’re currently working on a food truck schedule and have street parking available. They are perfectly located on Harris Avenue in Fairhaven on the way to Bellingham’s only off leash dog park. He says many dog owners don’t like the park because it isn’t fenced in and dogs tend to run into the surrounding area. Not to mention you can’t drink beer there.

Paws for a beer is funded by membership fees. One dog is $5 for a one day or $100 for a one year pass.  Dog owners are free to enter. They also plan to bring in dog trainers and members will get free training. There are a few “non-negotiable” rules when you bring your dog into Paws for a Beer as well, including the owner must clean up after their dog.

Currently, their hours are 7 days a week, 11am to 9pm. You can get to know them better at their Grand Opening this Halloween weekend. To celebrate their are throwing a Paws For a Beer Howl-o-ween Fest!, everyday from , Oct 28 – Oct 31 starting at 5pm. They will have a dog costume contest, trivia and photo booth and the Cubano Cubano food truck will start serving at 12pm on Saturday.