Roux is a very special cocker spaniel – he inspired me to get hiking, which has resulted in one of the biggest walking groups in the Peak District.
Having always been a dog lover, I bought Roux with the intention of learning agility as I wanted an active dog that would love the challenge. Sadly, he suffered an injury at three years old that ended our agility dreams, but I was determined to find another job for him.
I started hiking with Roux and my ex-partner and I realised that we had found our calling. Roux loved hopping up and posing on any rock that we would walk past, and I had finally found something that allowed us to spend real quality time together.
When my ex and I separated, I was heartbroken, but I was determined to keep up hiking with Roux. We walked all over the Peak District. But, as a single woman, I did worry about safety and I realised there must be others in a similar position.
He’s been by my side every step of the way
So in March 2020, I started ‘Walking the Peak District’ – a Facebook group to ensure no one ever has to walk alone if they don’t want to. And of course, Roux has been by my side every step of the way. We could explore safely, and of course dogs were more than welcome!
Fast forward two years and Roux and I still hike most weekends. He’s eight now and can’t cover the mileage he used to, but he still hops onto every rock we walk past!
Our group, now called PeaksNPubs, has 3,600 members. It has introduced hundreds of people to walking in the Peak District and taught over 50 people to navigate safely in the hills. I’ve also been voted into the BMC Peak Area committee and I’ve got a dream of training a Search and Rescue dog.
I hope this will be Roux’s legacy. He’s such a loyal dog and he never leaves my side. We know each other’s thoughts, he never lets me down and so many people have been helped because of him. It all started with Roux.
My Chocolate Labrador was the smallest of her litter, weighing only 1.5kg at eight weeks old. We spent a lot of time building her up, as she lives with two other, larger Labradors. She thrived on the attention, food and exercise, and is now a healthy 27 kg.
She keeps us going
When she was one, she was diagnosed with epilepsy. I am so proud of herand the way she just gets on with life. We treat her the same as our other two dogs, so she enjoys going on walks, eating and playing. With her happy-go-lucky character, she keeps us going, always reminding us to stay positive. Evie has taught us that life is too short to spend it worrying. We admire her so much.
Chance was found in a park with his four litter mates at just a day old. They were dumped in a cardboard box and left for dead!
A lovely member of the public brought them in to the vets where I work, and the whole team rallied together to hand-rear the five puppies. This involved lots of feeds, throughout the day and night, whilst also doing our jobs.
He was found in a park with his four litter mates at just a day old
It was touch and go as to whether they would survive or grow into normal dogs as they didn’t have the influence of their mum, who would normally teach them a lot of life lessons.
But Chance is 11 months old now and he’s absolutely huge. He’s coming on so well with his training! He has lots of little quirks, like he has to bring something to show you when he greets you. He LOVES people and dogs, especially children, and he knows quite a few party tricks, including ‘commando’ where he crawls along the floor like an army man.
Joey found us, post lockdown #1. I placed an advert detailing the life we could offer a dog. Perhaps someone had over-dogged themselves during the pandemic and wanted to reconsider, but also wanted the best for their pooch. It turns out there was someone in that position and they contacted my ad and the stars aligned. Joey joined us in October 2020. He was six months old and a true working lab. He needed a job.
I have never known a dog love his tennis balls so much!
As we got to know his character, Joey’s true calling emerged: to save tennis balls at all costs. I have never known a dog love his tennis balls so much! If he’s not retrieving his own, he’s searching for those little rubber critters others he’s lost. We have a tub full of balls we never set out with!
He loves entertaining us as we seek out new routes to walk on the south coast. We’re very glad he found us. He’s a sensitive soul, brain always in overdrive (if not always engaged), loves his cuddles and is very handsome… but maybe I’m biased!
My dog Ellie saved my friend and I when we got lost in the woods. We had gone for an evening stroll but missed the trail path and ended up walking away from our campsite. After spending hours trying to find our way back,it was getting dark, and we started to panic. We stumbled across a junction with four different paths, and while were debating which one to take, Ellie started walking resolutely down one. As we had nothing to lose, we decided to follow her. By some miracle, we found a car park which led us back towards the village and campsite. She truly saved us that night!
We decided to follow her
We adopted JD as a 14-week-old puppy. His previous owner had only had him for five days before deciding it was too much effort to have a dog. The minute he met our daughter, who is autistic with specific learning difficulties, he instantly seemed to know that she needed calmness.
He’s such a natural therapy dog
He does not leave her side when she’s home, and picks up on the signs she is overwhelmed. He lies by her and sticks his head in her hands. At night he sleeps by her bed and when she wakes at night, he lies on top of her. The pressure of him seems to send her back to sleep. He’s such a natural therapy dog.
He is also a crazy young dog who is ball-obsessed and also likes helping dig at the allotment. I can’t believe how lucky we have been to find such a wonderful dog.