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Get walking for a good cause

January 12 – a week from today – is the Day We Break. Already, many of us will have fallen by the wayside in our New Year’s Resolutions: 75 per cent don’t last past the first week, and only eight per cent will stick to their goals beyond mid-month. Not surprising really, when we set resolutions so challenging; starting an exercise programme, losing weight, and stopping smoking are our top three.

If you’re a svelte, non-nicotine addict, we applaud you. But it’s the exercise programme that’s the real toughie: Google Trends shows that searches related to exercise spike on January 1 each year, and gym-going soars during the first week of the year, only to die a death by the end of the month. Because, honestly, who wants to spend hours inside a smelly gym? Out there, in the glorious Mediterranean countryside, you’ve got fresh air, warm temperatures, and – best of all – happy, bouncy dogs in need of a good long walk…

On the first Sunday of every month from October to May, the Sirius Dog Sanctuary just outside Moni runs a Jolly Fun event: a come-one come-all dog walk. A morning of camaraderie and companionship, fresh air and exercise, the monthly Dog Walk not only gets you out and moving, it’s a real treat for the shelter’s strays.

As many as 80 people will be rocking up on January 12 for the first walk of 2020. Starting at 11am and lasting most of the morning, it’s the perfect way to give back – both to yourself and the doggies, who will be immensely happy to see you!

“We’ve got roughly 120 dogs at the moment: German shepherds, French bulldogs, lots of ex-hunting dogs and more than a few bouncy puppies who’d love a good long walk,” says Debbie Chrysochou, one of the volunteers in charge of this non-profit shelter and rehoming facility. “Our dogs are inside a closed shelter for much of the day. They do get time in one of the four play areas, but it’s pretty cold and dark during the wintertime, and there aren’t many people around during the week,” she continues, “so they’ll be ever so happy to see you and get out into the sunshine.”

Registration takes place under the trees, she explains, and there’s a €5 participation fee for anyone over the age of 12 – “a donation really, just to help out. We’ll guide you down to the Sanctuary building where you can grab a cup of hot coffee and a slice of homemade cake, and then it’s off to the dogs: our volunteers will be putting each dog on its leash, introducing the two of you, and then it’s all happiness and outdoor fun for you both!

“It’s such good exercise, both for our walkers and the dogs,” she adds with a laugh. “Some of the dogs are a little bit nervous; like people, they’re all different, so you’re welcome to sit under the trees and enjoy a coffee and doggie company. But others love nothing more than a good long walk down to the sea: the route takes you through wonderful green fields full of wildflowers, past a picturesque little church, and down to the beach.”

The monthly dog walk is, Debbie adds, a really happy event for all. “We get all ages, young things in their twenties, lots of retirees, plenty of families with babies in prams and kids piggybacking on dads. Obviously children must be supervised on the walk – everyone needs to be safe – but it’s especially great for teaching younger kids not to be afraid of dogs: if you live in a flat and can’t have a pet, this is a brilliant way to get your children socialising with happy, well-behaved dogs.”

On that note, it’s worth mentioning that the dogs must remain on the leash at all times. “They’re all friendly and safe to be around,” adds Debbie, “but they live in pens in groups of four or five, and they’re not always used to being around lots of other dogs. If you like, you can spend all morning here, coming back for another dog when the first has had its walk; we often see people going off two or three times. It’s a real treat for the dogs, and excellent exercise for our walkers,” she concludes. “Honestly, why pay for a gym membership when you could be out walking in the countryside with a happy dog by your side?”


The Sirius Dog Sanctuary Dog Walk

Takes place on Sunday, January 12 from 11am to 2pm. For more information and directions, call Debbie on 99 478807 or visit The Sanctuary will also be holding a ‘Bookworm & Brunch Sunday’ at Limassol’s LAB Restaurant and Bar from 11am to 3pm on January 26 – books are priced from €2

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