County News: Blind dog Basil walking Coast to Coast

Michael Carter and Basil, with Michael's partner Katherine SUS-160607-102243001

Michael Carter and Basil, with Michael's partner Katherine SUS-160607-102243001

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A Sussex man and his beloved pet are preparing to walk from Coast to Coast to raise funds for Dogs Trust.

Michael Carter and his 15-year-old fox terrier Basil will cover 190 miles, from the sea cliffs of St Bees on the Irish Sea to the fishing village of Robin Hood Bay on the North Sea.

Basil SUS-160607-102228001

Basil SUS-160607-102228001

While Michael will be walking the whole route, Basil, who had both eyes removed after developing glaucoma, will spend part of the journey being carried in a customised rucksack.

“I had to have both my hips replaced a few years ago and Basil’s enthusiasm and lust for life motivated me to recover so we could have more adventures together,” said Michael, of Farm Lane, Camber.

“Sadly, he went blind shortly afterwards and for a while I thought our days out together were over but I have been astonished by how much he wants to walk and love seeing him sniffing his way around.

“I came across a company which makes carriers for elderly dogs and found this gave me the ability to take Basil out on long walks so he could walk as much as he wanted to and then be carried.

Basil SUS-160607-102258001

Basil SUS-160607-102258001

“This gave me the confidence to think we could still have a big adventure together and decided to take him on the Coast to Coast walk which I had done when I was younger.”

The intrepid pair will begin their journey on July 13 and it is expected to take around 16 days to complete.

“We have had lots of practice walks around the North and South Downs so I can be confident that he is happy and I can look after him well while we are away, as his wellbeing is my priority,” said the 55-year-old.

“There are some difficult sections of the walk particularly if the weather is bad when navigation can be tricky and there are miles of bog to cross but I think the hardest thing about the walk for me is slowing down so that we travel at Basil’s pace.

Basil SUS-160607-102326001

Basil SUS-160607-102326001

“Walking is all about rhythm, but walking with Basil now this is not possible.

“It is teaching me to be patient which is never a bad thing.

“It will take 16 days to complete the walk, a little longer than is usual, but this gives Basil plenty of time to walk at his own pace and enjoy normal doggy behaviour, then have nice long rests in his cosy carrier which I carry on my back.

“It may get a little tough for me at times but I want Basil to have lots of fun.

Michael Carter and Basil SUS-160607-102313001

Michael Carter and Basil SUS-160607-102313001

“Hopefully the only ache he will have will be in his tail from too much wagging.”

Michael and his partner Katherine got Basil as a puppy from a reputable breeder as they had never had a dog before and wanted a fox terrier.

But the former television prop maker said he would look at rehoming a rescue dog in future.

“Looking back on it now, I think the best way to get a dog is to rehome,” he said.

“Basil has helped teach me the appeal of a dog comes from its personality not its looks.”

Michael said every day with Basil continued to be a ‘joy’ and it was this which inspired him to raise money for Dogs Trust.

Michael Carter and Basil with the specialised rucksack carrier SUS-160607-102341001

Michael Carter and Basil with the specialised rucksack carrier SUS-160607-102341001

“Now he is blind, having had his eyes removed last year after developing glaucoma, and is a little slow and confused at times but I find I love him more than ever.

“I have been a supporter of Dogs Trust for many years and am passionate about the wonderful work they do in giving unfortunate dogs who haven’t had a great start in life a loving home in which to spend the rest of them.

“I am a firm believer in their slogan that ‘A dog is for life’ and after a period of adjustment I realised that Basil is still the same brave, intrepid little fellow that he always was, he just needs a little help now.”

Initially, Michael was hoping to raise £200 for each day of his challenge – £3,200 in total – but having already reached that target he is now hoping to raise even more money and awareness for Dogs Trust.

“The amount of support has been amazing,” said Michael.

“I think he is a very appealing fellow Basil and I think a lot of people have been moved by his tale.”

A blog from Basil’s point of view Basil’s Adventure will be published throughout the journey so all the pair’s supporters can keep up to date with their progress.

“I am looking forward to having 16 days with nothing else to think about other than putting one foot in front of the other ,and how lucky I am to be still able to share an adventure with my beloved Basil,” said Michael.

“I have learned a lot from him about what it is to be a dog, but I have learned so much more about what it is to be human, like fearlessness, loyalty, tenacity but most of all love, and in the world we live in today that’s something I think we all need a little bit more of.”

To sponsor Michael and Basil visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michael-carter14.

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