Every dog will have its day in South Tyneside this year.
The borough’s annual Great North Dog Walk is aiming to rip up the record books again after a new ruling was introduced to allow owners to bring along as many four-legged friends as they want.
In previous years, there has been a strict “one dog, one person” policy, but the new move could help the charity extravaganza attract more entries than last year’s best-ever total of 23,301.
Tony Carlisle, who started the event with with a mere 12 others in 1990, will also be hoping to bolster numbers with a TV appearance tomorrow.
The Great North Dog Walk will be featured on CBBC programme Who Let the Dogs Out, at 9am. It will look at the history of the event, explain how to register, outline the route and even feature a fun mocked-up interview between Tony and one of his canine contenders.
Tony, 56, a former teacher at Harton Technology College, South Shields, who retired because of ill-health last year, now dedicates himself to the walk all year round, and is determined to leave a lasting legacy in the borough.
He said: “The CBBC show is a great way to attract more people to the walk.
“It’s a very popular show and we have already appeared on Blue Peter, Newsround and the Big Breakfast in the past.”
He hoped the new rule change would mean more dogs taking part.
“Many people have more than one dog and would have to leave some behind or seek assistance to walk them all,” he said.
“I have had offers to buy the walk, by people who say they can make it a real money-making event, but I want it to be my legacy. You can’t put a price on the friendship, goodwill and loyalty of people all over South Tyneside.
“People in the borough have two events to be proud of – the Great North Run and the Great North Dog Walk.”
The Great North Dog Walk, sponsored by Pets at Home, has raised more than £4.5m for good causes in its 23-year history, and is in Guinness World Records for attracting 23,301 entries in 2012, from 185 breeds.
The first dog to be signed up for this year’s event is Ruben, a 17-week old Hungarian Viszla, who lives in South Shields with owners Simon and Clare Dent and their children, Luke, nine, and Joel, seven.
He’ll be joined by thousands more in the weeks to come.
* Walkers can enter online at www.greatnorthdogwalk.co.uk, or simply turn up on the day, Sunday, June 9, at The Leas, South Shields, and register between 9am and 3pm.