Bus staff think their Snowdog is just the ticket.
Stagecoach North East workers have been petting Hiding Lions at the Museum and Winter Gardens - the Snowdog the company has sponsored on the Great North Snowdog public art trail.
Stagecoach partnered with Helen Stephens, the popular picture book writer and illustrator behind the hugely successful series of children’s books, How to Hide a Lion, for their painted pooch.
The artist took the theme of her new picture book, How to Hide a Lion at School, as her inspiration and has hidden lions all over the Snowdog sculpture for people to find.
Receptionist Kim Butler, who is based at the bus company’s head office in Sunderland, and her grandson Oliver, six, have already started the trail, which features 61 dogs across the region.
Kim, 53, from Town End Farm, said: “After downloading the app and the Snowdog map, we are now trying to get round as many Snowdogs as possible, and we started with our very own Hiding Lions first, followed by Wonderhound and SAFC Spraydog at the Stadium of Light. Oliver was so looking forward to it and loved looking for the lions to see how many he could find.”
Great North Snowdogs is a Wild in Art event in support of St Oswald’s Hospice which is inspired by the animated short film, The Snowman and The Snowdog.
There are 14 sculptures on Wearside in total at locations including the The Galleries in Washington, Stadium of Light, Park Lane, Market Square, Keel Square and The Bridges.
Oliver Steinberg, a pupil at Bexhill Academy, said: “I liked looking for the lions on the big Snowdog and I found all ten. He is cute and I liked looking at all the pictures.”
Steve Walker, managing director at Stagecoach North East, said: “After months of preparation and anticipation it is fantastic to see our Snowdog unveiled and settled into his home for the next two months.
“Staff across our six depots are keen to pay him a visit and see as many Snowdogs as possible, making a day of it and enjoying the best the region has to offer.
“We are proud to support such an initiative which engages the whole family, encourages people in the North East to explore their local community, attracts new visitors to the region - and crucially - helps to raise money for St Oswald’s Hospice.”
•Here’s where to spot the Snowdogs in Sunderland.
Two of the Sunderland Snowdogs had to go to the vets after being vandalised just hours before the Great North Snowdog trail was launched a fortnight ago.
Aero Dog in Market Square had a wing ripped off while Snowdog Down the Rabbithole, in Park Lane Interchange, was left with a hole in its neck after vandals struck.
The dogs had to be taken to South Tyneside College where automotive students took the lead and switched from vehicles to became makeshift vets to mend the painted fibreglass figures.
The sculptures are now back in place and ready for people who are off out Snowdog spotting this weekend.
People are being asked to treat the sculptures like real dogs, so while they can be petted and used for selfies, they are not to be climbed on.