A five-day, 140-mile journey along the banks of England’s Grand Union Canal culminated today with the arrival of Gavin Robertson and his Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Ch. Soletrader Peek a Boo at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital. A crowd of well-wishers was on hand to greet the weary wanderers who this week have so far raised more than £27,000 for charity while providing positive exposure for breeders of happy, healthy purebred dogs.
“Jilly’s Jolly Jaunt” is the brainchild of Gavin, the breeder/owner-handler of “Jilly,” this year’s Best in Show winner at Crufts Dog Show.
The walk began on Monday at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham where the pair defeated more than 20,000 dogs earlier this year. They were joined by artist Amelia Siddle and Pointer Sh. Ch. Wilchrimane Ice Maiden, as well as by supporters of Britain’s vulnerable and high profile breeds and previous Crufts’ Best in Show and Group winners. These volunteers walked with their dogs along various legs of the journey in a show of support for Gavin and his team.
In an audio interview at the destination site, Gavin took a moment to speak with Dog World to acknowledge the support and encouragement of his fellow travelers. “I’d like to think that all the walkers were happy, and it went according to plan. It was amazing. I’m really proud of what we achieved in a short period of time,” Gavin said.
This week’s weather was ideal for dog walking. Overcast skies and mild temperatures were the order of the day, although the sun broke through the London fog at the finish line. “We’ve been blessed with bad weather, which should be perfect for dog walking,” Gavin told the reporter. “The sun’s come out in the end, and we see that all our family and friends who’ve helped us behind the scenes through the weeks are here.”
Gavin told Best In Show Daily prior to the start of the walk that he viewed the endeavor as a way to ensure the future survival of purebred dogs and the dog sport. “All of us dog show people need to start looking at the bigger picture to promote pedigree dogs in a positive manner, or else governments and politicians will be dictating how our sport is governed. We need to prove to people that we all have happy, healthy dogs and that we are responsible owners and breeders. There is more to life and dogs than just winning a pretty ribbon. Our sport is changing fast these days, and we can’t sit back and watch things disappear.”
This week’s walk has exceeded its financial goal of raising funds for the hospital as well as for DogLost and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. Gavin, Amelia and the legion of walkers and supporters have certainly earned a long rest and the gratitude of the entire dog fancy.
If you haven’t already done so, please be sure to visit the website to show your support for purebred dogs everywhere. Donations may still be made at Jilly’s website and through the team’s Facebook page.
The positive impact that Gavin and his team have made on securing a future for purebred dogs will likely be immeasurable.