On 23 April Julie will face one of the biggest challenges of her life – running the iconic London Marathon. Here she shares why she chose to support Dogs for Dogs and how running for charity has made the intense training that little bit easier.

“I’m running the London Marathon…as I say those words I still can’t quite believe it! I decided to run for Dogs for Good as I hadn’t realised what a wonderful support assistance dogs can be for those in need. Also because they are a local charity in Banbury who rely solely on donations and fundraising, and I believe in the difference they make.

I have read, and heard first-hand, so many inspiring stories from those who have been helped by Dogs for Good since myself and Cameo Consultancy started working with them.

Motivated by inspiring stories

When I first met Karen with assistance dog Iggy at the Dogs for Good HQ, I was struck by the powerful bond the pair had. Iggy had done far more than just help Karen with her day-to-day life – he had allowed Pat to become a mum again and allowed Karen the independence to go out alone with Iggy. This enabled Karen to buy her mum a Christmas present last year for the first time. This really stuck in my mind as I then understood the true value of an assistance dog is not just the help with day-to-day tasks, but the gift of independence and the freedom to have quality time, and do more than just get through the day.

Mark’s story also left an indelible mark on my mind. I have often found it in my thoughts, at work, at home and whilst out training, pounding the pavements and roads. Mark suffers from Asperger’s and found being on his own distressing, he lacked confidence and had struggled for much of his life to have any feeling of independence. Mark started working with Community Dog Max, and handler Sarah, and just five short months later he could go out into the community without his support worker. He’s now working towards an ASDAN qualification in animal care.

Many of us never consider how our relationship with our pets develops us as people. We know instinctively we love them and we enjoy their company, but do we really appreciate how that bond affects us? I find it fascinating that by taking care of Max, Mark has been able to find he has the resources to look after himself.

Training hard

My training programme for the marathon has been quite brutal and intense, and I have braved the Oxfordshire and Warwickshire countryside in all weathers over the last few months. On many occasions I have felt as though I have taken on too great a task – when I started training in December of last year the longest run I had ever done without stopping was just a few miles – but the thought of doing something for Dogs for Good has made every mile a little bit easier.

I’ve had my last long 20/22 mile run and have eased off my training until race day. On 23 April I’ll face one of the biggest challenges of my life, running 26.2 miles around the London streets. It has already been a very emotional journey and I am sure there are more tears to come, not to mention what will surely be a huge sigh of relief once it is over!

I am so grateful for all the support I have received so far and can only ask you to consider giving Dogs for Good a little of your money and time. The challenge many disabled people, and their families, routinely face is immense in comparison to the little things which upset our work and personal lives on a day to day basis, so please take the time to support this truly life-changing cause.”

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