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Who let the dogs out? We did!

CANINES and their companions went walkies at the weekend for our inaugural doggy day out fundraiser.

Nearly 400 four legged friends and their well behaved owners turned out for the first ever St Teresa’s Hospice, Bark in the Park event.

From St Bernard’s to Chihuahuas, dogs big and small took on the one mile sponsored walk around South Park, Darlington, to help raise thousands of pounds towards the cost of the soon to be opened £1.2m new 10-bed inpatient unit on Woodlands Road.

St Teresa’s Hospice income generation team member Scott Marshall said: “Our initial target for the day was 150 dogs and their owners but the response we have had to our first Bark in the Park has been incredible.

“There are 378 dogs starting the walk which is overwhelming and just goes to show the fantastic support the people of Darlington have for St Teresa’s Hospice.

“Hopefully this will now become an annual event for us and continue to grow year on year.”

The event was officially opened by Darlington Mayor Cllr Tom Nutt, and was supported by Vets 4 Pets, Pets at Home Darlington, Harringtons and Pet Pals Darlington.

Prizes for best dressed dog and dog with the waggiest tail were won by Border Collie Chippy, dressed as Batman and his owner Jen Clayton, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Charlie and owner Catherine Dulston, who each collected a £10 Pets at Home Voucher.

Goody bags containing dog leads, biscuits, toy treats and discount vouchers were also provided for all dogs completing the walk by Pets at Home Darlington. Store manager Mark Deighton said: “I was approached by St Teresa’s Hospice last August to see if we could help with Bark in the Park which was around the same time as I lost my own brother to cancer.

“I know first hand the fantastic work that hospices do so I was determined to make sure that we could help to support the event.

“It has been a fabulous morning and I hope that we can continue our partnership with St Teresa’s at next year’s Bark in the Park.”

Dog owner Christine Blakeburn who walked her St Bernard, Louis, with husband Mark and Scruffy, the Lurcher, added: “Hopefully we can raise a lot of money for St Teresa’s today.

“I had a friend who lost her life at a young age from cancer and I think it has touched everyone’s lives in one way or another.

“The response from dog owners has been unbelievable and we’ve had such a good time – I’ll definitely be back again next year – I’d be barking not to.”