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Walking The Dog

July 29, 2020

She says Barney, her three-year-old cocker spaniel is like “an anti-depressant on four legs” while her much-loved, 12-year-old Welsh springer spaniel, Gemma, is never from her side.

“If you’re having a bad day, Barney will bring all his soft toys and drop them at your feet. He makes me laugh.

“Gemma is just sweet girl. They don’t leave my side. If you’re working at the desk, they’re under the desk. They follow you everywhere.”

The 45-year-old, who works for Mental Health Australia, has been working from home since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. She walks the dogs every day “except in torrential rain”.

“We usually go for 45 minutes. And when I say every day, it’s probably since COVID times that it’s been more regular. Before, it might have been three or four times a week and that would be it. Now, it’s an important part of our daily routine,” Ma Sequoia said.

It’s part of the reason she has signed up for PAWGUST, a campaign inviting the public to give back to their dogs who have helped them through COVID-19 by committing to a 30-minute walk together for 30 days in August. It’s also a fundraiser for Guide Dogs. All money raised will support Guide Dogs puppies in training.

“A lot of the challenges that raise money are usually a one-off 15k run and I think, ‘I’m not going to do that’,” Ms Sequoia said.

“I think I signed up because it sounded more realistic – 30 minutes every day is something that’s really achievable and it’s a good way of raising money.”

It also means a great time for all the dogs out there supporting us at home during the coronavirus.

New research from Guide Dogs found that four out of five Australians relied on their pets for emotional support during COVID-19 restrictions, but we don’t always return the puppy love.

Before COVID-19 restrictions, more than 70 per cent of owners weren’t walking their dog at least once a day. During restrictions, this hardly changed, and owners admitted to walking their dogs for shorter distances over shorter periods than they usually would.

Ten per cent didn’t walk their beloved pooches at all.

Kathryn says she has already raised close to $900 for Guide Dogs through her PAWGUST campaign.

“People have been so generous and when you say that stat, in excess of $50,000 to train one guide dog, it’s so important. The training that goes into guide dogs is unbelievable,” she said.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT chief executive Dale Cleaver said it took $50,000 and two years to train one Guide Dogs puppy.

He was surprised by the research

“We all rely on dogs for our emotional support, yet the amount of walking time was less,” he said.

“That’s one of the beauties of PAWGUST, it’s 30 minutes for 30 days engaging with your dog and the dog benefits, but is also has benefits for us getting out. I know myself, working from home, that chance to get out and get some air makes all the difference.”

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