They have a demanding customer with unusual tastes at the Street Level Cafe.
Passersby stop to take pictures when Bongo the Alaskan malamute dog stops outside the Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, cafe to demand his regular snack of a sausage 99 – an ice cream cone with a sausage instead of a chocolate Flake (which would be unhealthy for a dog).
To be fair, by the time he gets there with his owner Paul Peckham, he has usually walked from their home in Fornham All Saints, though sometimes he rides at least part of the way on Paul’s mobility buggy.
Paul, who has multiple sclerosis, says the tradition started about three years ago. Now, Bongo knows his rights and if cafe owner Richard Bird is not quick enough on the service, the dog barks impatiently.
Richard says it all started when he asked if the thick- coated dog, bred as an Arctic sled dog, might like an ice cream.
He said: “He comes up to the door and sits. When he sees me come down he starts barking. It stops people and when there are kids sitting in the window, you say ‘watch the dog’– they love it.”
In the 27 years Richard has been there, he has had one other ice cream-loving dog. In summer he has an ice cream machine outside the cafe and there was a great dane that would stop dead whenever he saw it.
“The chap who owned him was quite big but couldn’t move him until he had his ice cream,” Richard recalled.
Paul admits more people know Bongo’s name than his, but he doesn’t mind.
He said: “It was nice the other day when the lady in Poundland asked my name because she said they all knew Bongo but not me. I’m just the man with the white dog.”
Bongo also gets marshmallows at a coffee shop in town, so perhaps he could work off the treats by towing Paul’s buggy home?
Paul laughed: “He could do it but he likes water and I can’t guarantee where I’d end up.”