Walking with Barney
I had the pleasure of joining Barney, Bob and Jos in Penkridge, Staffordshire, recently for an afternoon of walking.
As the Dogs Unite Manager I have been speaking to Bob & Jos since before their epic journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats started. My first day at Guide Dogs was on the phone to Jos who wanted to support us during their personal challenge.
A truly amazing couple, the enormity of the task didn’t dawn on me while drawing up a plan with my team on how to support them, but only as I walked side by side with them. This couple, who have four grown children and both have careers, have taken 3 months out of their day-to-day lives to walk the length of the UK. Not something your average person would or could do to support a charity, and they are doing it with their gorgeous dog Barney.
I met them outside the Penkridge co-op surrounded by a group of people, all wanting to know what they were doing, to stroke Barney and to find out how to support them on their journey. Bob had printed small business cards to give out and the couple were gracious and warm to all who stopped them to talk.
"It was wonderful to see them taking every moment in, enjoying the journey; Barney laid out flat on the grass, Jos painting the locality and Bob just talking to people walking by."
I was lucky enough to join them on a sunny day along a canal path from Penkridge and across some fields (with the sound of the M6 in the distance). I watched, as we walked, people gravitate towards Barney, this beautiful flat coat retriever, taking in his stride all the attention and fuss. Barney was Bob & Jos’ primary concern, making sure he was okay, had enough water, his feet were good. We stopped 3 times over the 5 miles we walked, and I'm sure this was me slowing them down! But it was wonderful to see them taking every moment in, enjoying the journey; Barney laid out flat on the grass, Jos painting the locality and Bob just talking to people walking by.
They were carrying all their equipment in backpacks weighing 13lb each – enough for a holiday! Over the course of the afternoon we walked all the way to Bednall by which time I was hot and tired and in need of a sit down, they still had another 2-3 miles to walk to reach their campsite, when they would then have to set up their tent and cook their tea. They told me the three of them were tucked up in the tent and asleep by 9.30pm most nights which I could totally understand, after only doing one afternoon and carrying nothing more than my camera!
I didn’t want to leave them: this inspirational couple who, by the time I met them, had travelled 500 miles yet looked as if they were just out for a stroll, big smiles on their faces, chatting to everyone and enjoying the beautiful British countryside! I urge any of you who can meet them on their trip and walk a while beside them, they are incredible and Barney well; he is just a super hero!
To support Barney Bob & Jos please visit
To follow their incredible journey, please visit:
To join Match a Mile for Barney please click the button below to sign up: you can join in for free, and all we ask is that you try to raise £35 for Guide Dogs: enough to support a guide dog partnership for a whole week.
Pets at Home is proud to support Barney