Angel – a hiking dog’s story

Throughout the build up of this challenge I haven’t really talked much about my dog. Angel is a German Shepherd re-homed from Wood Green Animal Shelter in March 2007. Her exact age is unknown, but she is approximately 5 or 6 years old.

When I first met her at Wood Green I fell instantly in love with her. Although she was pacing up and down in her cage (like a trapped tiger) and barely had any time for me, there was just something about her I liked.

I don’t know her full history before she ended up at Wood Green, but she had a bad ear infection, a serious seasonal skin disorder and restraint issues (she didn’t like being held or touched).

Ultimately she just needed a good home  – within a few months both her ear and skin disorder had cleared up (and has never reappeared).  The restraint problems took a little longer – it took 3 hours of patiently trying to give her eye drops before the penny dropped and she began fully trusting me. She is now a trusting, wonderful, well behaved and healthy dog.

Angel loves hiking, but when I first decided to walk Offa’s Dyke, I took her to see the vet to make sure she would be capable of undertaking the challenge. His advice was that as long as she was involved in all the training I did, she would be as prepared as I would be – she has walked with me on every training walk!

A few people have suggested a dog backpack so she can carry some of her own stuff – ultimately though, whilst I have a choice to do this walk, Angel has no choice, so I want to make sure she enjoys it.

Although I won’t be carry any water specifically for her, as she will be more than happy with the steams and puddles we come across, I will have my water to share if no other source is available, as well as an empty bottle to fill should it be unexpectedly hot.

Foodwise, the support vehicle will be dropping off both human and dog food (her usual ration and something extra) at each campsite. I will also be carrying plenty of treats and emergency food. The worst case scenario is that she has a problem and is unable to continue, in which case the support team are available to give her a break from the walking!

Angel is no doubt going to have a better time on Offa’s Dyke than I am – she is getting a lovely walk each day, she is spending the whole time with me (German Shepherds are very loyal) and she will be spoilt with treats and attention!

She is going to be insufferable when we get back!

2 Replies to “Angel – a hiking dog’s story”

  1. Hi Philip. I have been very moved by your project walking Offa’s Dyke with Angel. I once did a sponsored walk (nothing quite like yours!) with my three dogs, Bramble, Merry and Lucky. George and I also walked the Ridge Way with Merry at a later date, not for charity. Angel is so lucky to have found such a loving and caring home. I am going to forward the email from your father to Bob (you will remember him as Robert) as I think he will be interested to read about your journey. I hope Tim gets back soon from San Francisco.
    Best wishes,
    Lyn and George Mahoney

  2. Thanks for your lovely comment Lyn.

    Angel had a lovely time on the walk – she had two half days off: the first halfway was after she got a bad stomach (probably after licking sillage) which meant she was off her food for an evening, so I thought it was better to give her time to rest.

    The second half day was on the penultimate day – as the final day was so long, I felt she needed a bit of rest to make sure she enjoyed it!

    Many thanks,


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