Barbara and Nova’s March Dog Walking Challenge

February 18, 2022

With March just around the corner, we’re looking forward to lots of supporters and their four-legged friends joining us for this year’s March Dog Walking Challenge. Our tails are wagging in anticipation, and we can’t wait to get started!  

Barbara, who took part last year, spoke to us about taking part in the challenge and why her dog, Nova, is so important to her. 

“Nova has been a godsend to me” 

My husband, Rob, was diagnosed with young onset frontotemporal dementia when he was 58. He is now 61. His dementia has robbed him of his speech and facial expressions, which makes me feel very lonely.  

I always enjoy my walks with my dog, Nova. They help me spend more time in nature and offer an escape from the pressures of being a carer. Nova is so cuddly and affectionate – a real godsend.  

When I saw the March Dog Walking Challenge, I knew I wanted to get involved. I’ve always wanted to help raise money for Dementia UK, but I can find it hard to ask people to sponsor me. But with Nova on my team, I felt more comfortable fundraising, as we were in it together. Who could resist him?  

Barbara and her dog, Nova

How Admiral Nurse Tracey helped my family 

Dementia UK means a lot to me. My wonderful specialist Admiral Nurse, Tracey, has supported me throughout Rob’s dementia journey. We’ve laughed together and cried together, and she has helped me cope with the rollercoaster of emotions I feel every day as a carer.  

Nova the dog wearing a Dementia UK dog bandana

I needed a knowledgeable, caring but neutral supporter who I could be open with. Tracey has been my sounding board and my shoulder to cry on, as well as helping me access other sources of support. Not only has Tracey helped me, but she has also helped my daughter, Lizzie. Lizzie has even set up her own social enterprise and online shop to raise money for Dementia UK.

“It was a great way to meet people and make new friends” 

I know how important the Admiral Nurse service is, and I am so grateful to have Tracey’s help. I wanted to help more families access the support of a specialist dementia nurse, and the March Dog Walking Challenge was a great way to do this.  

The challenge gave me a reason to get out of the house for exercise. To keep it interesting, I found new walks and routes for us to explore.  

Nova is a laid-back and friendly rough-coated Border Collie. He makes friends wherever we go, and our sponsored walks were no different. People loved to see Nova in his Dementia UK doggy bandana and would ask us about the challenge. It was a great way to meet people and make new friends. The Facebook Group helped build a community of likeminded people who were there to cheer each other on. 

In total, Nova and I raised over £800. People were very kind – it was far more than I expected. The funds we raised could pay for an Admiral Nurse to answer calls to the free Helpline for five weekdays. 

Thinking about signing up for the March Dog Walking Challenge? 

If you’re thinking about joining in, go for it! Here are my top tips to help get you started: 

  • don’t compare yourself to others doing the walk as everyone goes at their own pace. You can also amend the distance to suit your and your dog’s needs 
  • join up with others if you can as it’s a good excuse to meet up and walk 
  • research new walks in your area – it’s a great reason to go to new places 
  • get a free tracking app like Strava on your phone and list how long all your favourite routes are, so you have a menu of routes to choose from 

I am so glad I took part in the March Dog Walking Challenge. I guarantee your dog will love it, and you’ll be amazed by how much support you get.   

Thank you to Barbara and Nova for sharing their story. You can find out more about the challenge here.

Get involved

Our March Dog Walking Challenge is the perfect way to get outdoors and keep active with your dog

Sign up to the challenge

Other social and virtual events

If dog walking isn’t your thing there are lots of other ways you can get involved to support families living with dementia

See other events

How your fundraising helps

The money you raise grows the number of Admiral Nurses who provide life-changing care for people living with dementia

See the impact your support has on families