Canines and humans brave icy conditions to bid fond farewell to Sunderland’s Great North Snowdogs

Dog walkers set off from Mowbray Park on the Great North Snowdog dog walk, raising money for St Oswald's Hospice.
Dog walkers set off from Mowbray Park on the Great North Snowdog dog walk, raising money for St Oswald's Hospice.
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Canines and their humans braved icy conditions to bid farewell to Sunderland’s Great North Snowdogs during a sponsored walk.

The Snowdogs have been melting hearts across the North East since they were installed in September as part of an arts trail.

Dog walking sisters Grace and Lily Avery with dogs Rex and Bella, set off from Mowbray Park on the Great North Snowdog dog walk, raising money for St Oswald's Hospice.

Dog walking sisters Grace and Lily Avery with dogs Rex and Bella, set off from Mowbray Park on the Great North Snowdog dog walk, raising money for St Oswald's Hospice.

But they are being taken away in preparation to be auctioned off in aid of St Oswald’s Hospice.

That was not before around 50 people and their pooches walked about four miles through Sunderland to say their goodbyes to some of the colourful canines.

Organised by Durham-based pet and equestrian supplies store Pet’n’Pony, the walkers gathered at How to Hide a Lion at the Museum and Winter Gardens, before taking in Winter Lily in Blandford Street, Aerodog and Day of the Dog at The Bridges, Tails of the Sea in Keel Square, Wonderhound and SAFC Spraydog at the Stadium of Light, and Frostbite at the National Glass Centre.

The event finished at Pet’n’Pony-sponsored Snowdog Sparky in Seaburn.

They really loved it. It would be amazing to make it an annual event

Gav Hughes, organiser

Pet’n’Pony’s website manager, Gav Hughes, said: “It was really good.

“About 50 people with dogs went from Mowbray Park via Blandford Street to Keel Square. Then we went across the bridge to the Stadium of Light.

“We walked around the Stadium of Light to see the two Snowdogs there and then had a water break, before going to the glass centre.

“We then went around the marina and along the seafront to Seaburn, to Sparky, which we sponsor.”

Canine participants of the sponsored  Snowdog Walk in the ponchos they were given in their goody bags. Credit: Cheryl Waddell.

Canine participants of the sponsored Snowdog Walk in the ponchos they were given in their goody bags. Credit: Cheryl Waddell.

Pet’n’Pony put on the free event, which lasted about two-and-a-half hours, with all proceeds going to St Oswald’s Hospice.

“They really loved it,” Gav added. “It would be amazing to make it an annual event, but perhaps do it earlier in the year when it’s not as cold.

“Not all people turned up after registering, which we put down to the cold weather.

“Everyone who took part were really enthusiastic. It was a really nice, long walk and we stopped off for coffee on the way.

Dog walkers set off from Mowbray Park on the Great North Snowdog dog walk, raising money for St Oswald's Hospice.

Dog walkers set off from Mowbray Park on the Great North Snowdog dog walk, raising money for St Oswald's Hospice.

“We had some hot drinks at Gary’s Cafe at the Cat and Dog Steps, they also donated some many as well which was nice.

“Everyone really enjoyed it and we handed out a lot of goody bags with freebies to those taking part.”

All of the 61 individually-designed Snowdogs throughout the region have now been removed.

The pooches will now be fully groomed ahead of being auctioned off at Sage Gateshead, on December 6, to raise funds for St Oswald’s Hospice, in Newcastle.

More than 10,715 people have downloaded the special trail app since the trail began, with more than 141,000 dogs unlocked so far.

St Oswald’s Hospice community fundraiser Lauren Thompson said: “Great North Snowdogs has enabled us to engage with so many people from across the North East and Pet’N’Pony is a perfect example of how our sponsors can really get involved.

Dog walkers Chris and Claire Robertson with dog Rocky, set off from Mowbray Park on the Great North Snowdog dog walk, raising money for St Oswald's Hospice.

Dog walkers Chris and Claire Robertson with dog Rocky, set off from Mowbray Park on the Great North Snowdog dog walk, raising money for St Oswald's Hospice.

“We have all been so excited for the sponsored dog walk as it’s completely new to us and such a brilliant idea to raise funds for our children’s hospice.

“The dog walk was an excellent finale event for the Snowdogs trail in Sunderland and the perfect send-off for the dogs as all of their small fury friends were there too.”