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Canine Capers: Dog Walking with the SCA

If someone asked an average student what they do day-to-day, they are likely to hear the usual spiel: college sports, essays, socials, Klute, essays, formals, essays…but for some, there’s also dog walking.

What with the cruel “No Pets Allowed” policy in student halls and housing, four-legged friends, like home-cooked meals and washed sheets, become something to look forwards to when returning home for the holidays. Your only connection to your pet is that weekly Skype session when a parent lifts your confused cat to the camera and, apart from that, you are left with an animal shaped hole in your heart that is only filled by stopping a local in town to stroke their dog. There is, however, a solution, a way to pretend you have a pet during university without awkward questions from the landlord about why there is a dog basket in your living room.

I actually don’t have a pet at home – cat allergies and living in London prevented that – but I love dogs just as much as any pet owner so when I stumbled upon SCA’s volunteer dog walking scheme at fresher’s fair last year, I could not believe my luck. Whilst team sports were out of the question for fear of bringing back bad memories of cold PE lessons, dog walking seemed the perfect combination of volunteering and gentle exercise, whilst I could finally have that dog I’d been longing for my whole childhood. I immediately signed up with a group of friends, and went along to the induction session where we learnt about the scheme and the dos and don’ts of dog walking. Then, when they introduced us to three dogs– a German shepherd, which happens to be my all-time favourite breed, and two black Labradors – it was the start of a beautiful friendship and weekly walks that are still happening now.

Dog walking is such an unexpected thing to do at university but, for me, it’s one of the best and most rewarding. There’s no time consuming, strict commitments like team sports, so it can be fitted around lectures because you can choose whether you walk for half an hour, an hour, two hours…the dog is not watching the clock, it is just waiting for you to throw it a ball. You can do it with a group of friends and actually have a proper chat, rather than gasping for breath running around a pitch, and I have explored more of the beautiful Durham countryside than I ever would without dogs. It’s amazing how much more motivation you have to go for a walk and how everything becomes an adventure when you’re getting dragged around by energetic dogs that find every nook and cranny fascinating. Finally, these dogs become your friends, just as any pet would, and you form such a ridiculous attachment that you start to plan the best way to smuggle them into your suitcase for the holidays. Of course, there’s also the humans behind the dogs, and making friends with the dog owners is also a great way to get out of the Durham bubble and get some local help and advice which, for me, has proved invaluable.

Most importantly, the dog walking scheme is not a selfish venture designed to help students who want a dog of their own or who miss theirs at home. It is an incredibly worthwhile charity, as partaking students have helped locals in the community walk their dogs during difficult times when the only other alternative would have been to rehome. You can also walk dogs at SAD kennels (Stray Action for Dogs), help at college puppy rooms – a great way for students to relax – get involved in organising the dog show that raised over £600 for canine charities, or participate in Inclusive Dog Walks where dogs accompany community members in full time residential care.

University is a time to try something new, from the Harry Potter to the Hula Hooping society, but if you want to give something back to the community, whilst doing some exercise to de-stress after a day of essays, then there is nothing better than dog walking.

The Zambia Charity Fun Run returns to Maiden Castle on Friday 3rd March 2016!

It's back! On Thursday 3rd March over 1,000 children from local primary schools will ascend upon the Maiden Castle grounds to complete the running course all in aid of raising money for the Zambian sports project. The project will be organised by a group of 3rd year Sports students as part of their Sport in the Community placement module. To find out how you can get involved in helping raise money for this fantastic cause email

Diasabled, Gifted and Talented

This is one of our many projects to support children who are disabled, gifted and talented. We organise events and sessions that are appropriate for anyone of any abilities. These are excellent groups with a focus on teaching sport, but also incorporating other life skills and lessons helping individuals to feel included in a group of similar ability.

We have a good interest in these groups with individuals from a mixture of schools getting involved. If you are interested in taking part or know of individuals who might be interested, get in touch by sending an email

Every term at Durham we have held a Disability, Gifted and Talented day at Hild Bede College. This term we had a great turn out with 15 children and a whole host of staff and volunteers providing support and guidance. The individuals participated in a variety of sports and sessions including Boxing and Wheelchair Basketball. All the equipment was provided for and the children loved it with exclamations that the wheelchair basketball was, “So much fun. I didn’t want to get out…Can I have another turn?!”

These positive, enjoyable sessions help children’s interaction skills with one and other whilst having fun and learning key life skills on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The next one will be held in the following term with a host of activities for the children’s enjoyment.

NEW AGE KURLING - Christmas Competition

For the whole of this term, we have had weekly Kurling sessions on Mondays and Fridays for members of the local society who have suffered from alcohol addiction problems; allowing them to particpate in light physical activity to improve social confidence and skills.

This week we saw, as christmas is fast approaching, a christmas celebration competition. This is an annual competition between the Monday group: DASS (Durham Alcohol Support Service - Ex-Whitehouse participants) and the Friday group -(current Whitehosue participants( when they came together this Friday. The atmosphere was relaxed but still competitive, with a high turn out. The competition was high but DASS was very strong, winning the overall prize! Congratulations to both teams and have a Merry Christmas!