Durham goes barking mad for SCA Dog Walking

Never mind the deadlines or lack of sleep, being away from your four-legged friend is one of the toughest challenges you’ll face at University. But Student Community Action’s (SCA) Dog Walking project gives students the opportunity to combat that dejection, or even pretend to have that pet you’ve always wanted, all while making a difference in the local community.

Dog Walking is one of SCA’s biggest projects, with over 300 volunteers this year, all of whom are given training in dog handling. Most walk once a week and volunteers can state their preference for type and size of dog before getting out of the library and into the beautiful Durham countryside. As something a bit different from the usual student experience, the project is a fantastic way to de-stress, get some exercise and spend time with friends or even just man’s best friend. Dog Walking volunteer George Heuck said of the project:

‘I enjoy volunteering for the project as I know it really helps people out who aren’t in a position to get out and about as much as they’d like. It also gives me the opportunity to get out of the everyday of college and lectures and, of course, I love animals and miss my dog’.

The project is also a great way to get out of the Durham bubble and help people in the local community. Volunteers help those who are unable to walk their dogs regularly, whether this is due to illness, from being housebound or working full-time. Jill Finch, a regular service user, has found the Dog Walking project invaluable, telling us that:

“I have been lucky to have been using the SCA Dog walking services for a number of years now and find it invaluable in providing my dog with a visitor and exercise, especially during the winter months when we see little sunlight outside of working hours.

“According to a rota, a student comes to my house and collects my dog, and takes him out for a walk. The students have proved very reliable and always let me know if illness or deadlines mean they are unable to visit. They seem to form a good bond with my dog and often return for another year!”

There is also the opportunity to get involved with the SAD (Stray Action for Dogs) project at Deerness Kennels near Durham, walking dogs who are waiting to be rehomed. Walkers can sign up to one of four weekly morning slots, with SCA transport provided.

What’s more, on the 16th of December, SCA will also be running their annual Christmas Charity Dog Show. If you’re still in Durham get down to Maiden Castle between 9am and 5pm. As well the Dog Show itself there will be a bake sale, raffle and a range of Christmas stalls. Last year the project raised over £600 with all proceeds to go to charity. This year, the Dog Show will be in aid of Stray Aid and Medical Detection Dogs. Check out the Facebook event for more information. SCA are also looking for fifteen students help out at the Dog Show. Please contact Muskaan at muskaan.p.hariramani@durham.ac.uk if you’re interested.

Want to get involved in the Dog Walking project? Email project leaders Sarah and Nandini at dogwalking.sca@durham.ac.uk. And don’t forget to visit SCA’s website to check out the other opportunities offered by Student Community Action, including educational, recreational and other community projects.

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