A French bulldog that has a pet rock and a spaniel that steals socks were among the furry friends lapping up treats served at a pop-up dog café in Reading.

Pup and Bark were invited to set up a stall outside the Oracle to celebrate dogs gaining entry for the first time.

My Monday morning mission: To rank the dogs in Reading. Did my editor ask me to? No. What expertise did I have to evaluate pups? None. But with a camera and misplaced confidence I made my way down to the Oracle Riverside.

None of the attendees were beyond the arbitrary judgement of uninformed opinion, but I love dogs, so this can only really go one way.

What is Pup and Bark?

The dog events business is run by James Morgan, from Guildford, who quit a job in finance to pursue a career honoring his late pug.

What started as dog meet-ups for his pug to socialize, proved so popular that James turned it into a business in 2017.

Since then he’s worked at movie premiers for Patrick and Secret Life of Pets.

“I used to work in finance making people a lot of money and no one really cared, but I’ve had people crying saying thank you this is the most wonderful day ever. It’s lovely. It’s the only way I can honor my late dog,” he said.

“It’s nice to be around people around people who love their dogs. If someone treats their dog right they’re typically a decent human being."

He added: “Our objective as a company is to make more people see the benefits of allowing a whole family to come, not just the family minus the dog.”

The dogs: Rated

Reading Chronicle: Gizmo: 'Insane, cuddly, and insane again'Gizmo: 'Insane, cuddly, and insane again'


This is Gizmo. “Insane, cuddly and insane again” were the three words her human Lauren Downs used to describe her.

She’s a tiny eight-year-old ball of pure yap. Her eating techniques were like watching a truffle pig in a Thorntons. She would have got inside the puppycino cup if she could have, which at her height isn’t beyond reason.

But don’t let her statue fool you. Just ask old friend and German Shephard Mally, who she ‘completely ruled’ by Gizmo; or her brother, Fat Frank, who she would pull by the tail from his food bowl at the kennel.

“She makes big dogs her minion,” said human Lauren Downs.

“All big dogs, she just looks at them and they think, ‘yeah we’ll follow you’.”

  • Commitment: 100 out of 10
  • Vibe: 150 out of 10
  • Leadership 1000 out of 10

Overall: 417 out of 10

Reading Chronicle: Rue: 'Loving, hyper, greedy'Rue: 'Loving, hyper, greedy'


Rue the French bull dog has pet rocks. She won’t go to sleep without getting a stone from the garden and placing it next to her bed.

Is she building a scale model of stone henge? Introducing a mode of currency into Caversham dog society? We don’t know and neither does her owner Becky.

What we do know is they are her rocks now, don’t you dare try and take them.

  • Curiosity: 200 / 10
  • Forward-planning: 200 / 10
  • Mystery: 500 / 10

Overall: 300 / 10

Reading Chronicle: Alfie: 'Goofy, hyper, loving'Alfie: 'Goofy, hyper, loving'


This spaniel is called Alfie. In the seven months he has been on this earth, he hasn’t quite figured out where sounds are coming from. But that’s okay Alfie, we all have different strengths.

‘Goofy and hyper’ Alfie’s has found his in biting your socks from your hands while you try to put them on and running around the house.

Owner Lauren Ashley may have cold feet, but with steals like that, she may have a future NBA star on her hands.

Handling: 600 / 10

Awareness: 5 / 10

Sense of purpose: 300 / 10

Overall: 301

Reading Chronicle: Ace: 'Energetic, energetic, energetic'Ace: 'Energetic, energetic, energetic'


Energetic, energetic, energetic were the three words owner Carla Clarke used to describe Ace.

There are three charges levied against the three-year-old:

  1. Suspicion of jumping into fast-flowing rivers and refusing to come out
  2. Suspicion of ripping up the carpet in Carla’s house to the degree that it had to be replaced by wooden flooring.
  3. Suspicion of eating three rabbits in the woods


My client has the right to remain silent and will do so unless a treat-based compromise can be reached

  • Swimming proficiency: 800 / 10
  • Chaos: 300 / 10
  • Beauty: 200 / 10

Overall: 433 / 10

Reading Chronicle: Poppy: 'Absolutely nuts, finding her feet, annoying her brother'Poppy: 'Absolutely nuts, finding her feet, annoying her brother'


Poppy, 13-weeks old, will eat anything apart from food – but who made you the judge of what is or isn’t edible?

Even if you are, Poppy’s likely already eaten your gavel.

This pup is ‘non-stop relentless’, according to owners Chris and Jo Eals.

She’s already learnt how to ring the doorbell and how to jump the dog guard preventing her from going upstairs – just not how to get back again, unfortunately.

She’s still finding her feet around the house and how to best annoy her brother, Teddy.

  • Calm: 3 / 10
  • Learning speed: 500 / 10
  • Mischievousness: 300 / 10

Overall: 268 / 10

Reading Chronicle: Nahla: Protective, loyal, would not keep stillNahla: Protective, loyal, would not keep still


This is Nahla. She gives off a very different vibe than her brother Ace. Her first priority in life is family and her second is not standing still for photos, isn’t it, Nahla??

“Every time I go out she will go into my room and get an item of my clothing, bring it on the stairs and lie in it,” said Carla Clarke.

Some might see this as needy, but Nahla knows the stairs is the best vantage point to launch an offensive against any intruders, and the clothing smell helps remind her to avoid any unintentional friendly fire.

  • Protectiveness: 400 / 10
  • Loyalty: 350 / 10
  • Modelling potential: 0 with that blur

Overall: 250 / 10

Reading Chronicle: Ralph: 'Loving, playful, cheerful'Ralph: 'Loving, playful, cheerful'


Accusations of being ‘boring’ have been aimed at Winnersh-born Ralph, but these are wholeheartedly unfair.

He might not get up to tricks like Poppy or Ace; he might not lead the pack like Gizmo, but that just wouldn’t be Ralph.

Ralph is dependable, sturdy, soulful. A sagacious type; the kind of dog who says little but when he speaks, all listen.

He is the side-quest giver whose story is shrouded in mystery and yet simultaneously far more three-dimensional than any main character.

He also insists on eating out of his brother’s bowl, but that’s a whole other thing.

  • Perception: 300/ 10
  • Intellect: 500 / 10
  • Envy: 50 / 10

Overall: 283

Dogs I didn't get time to rate but deserve a picture

Reading Chronicle:

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