Man and best friends walking for animals


A man walking across the country with his two dogs to raise awareness of animal welfare issues says people have been the highlight of his journey so far.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by how people have taken on the cause and given support,” Stephen Brassett said when walking towards Forrester Park in Dunedin on Monday.
“People have been opening their homes to me and giving way more than I thought they would, especially at this stage.”
Mr Brassett, originally from Wellington, left Invercargill on January 7 on his “Longest Walk New Zealand” adventure.
He is stopping off at SPCAs around the country and will travel as far as Whangarei, the northernmost SPCA branch, before heading back south.
Mr Brassett and his two dogs, pugalier Jake and Chihuahua Piccolo, stood out when The Star met them, not least because of the distinctive yellow rickshaw micro-camper which Mr Brassett towed behind him.
The camper attracted members of the public too, several of whom interrupted our discussion to ask how they could donate in support.
Mr Brassett estimated he had averaged 20km each day of his journey so far. That’s a stretch for a human, let alone a small canine, so the purpose of the camper was to give Jake and Piccolo a rest when needed.
Asked how he and the dogs prepared for the journey, Mr Brassett said his personal fitness didn’t worry him but he wanted to make sure both Jake and Piccolo were comfortable with the camper so he did about a month’s training familiarising the dogs with it.
Jake walked most of each day’s average 20km but smaller Piccolo averaged 5km-10km, Mr Brassett said.
While people were a highlight, unseasonable weather was not. Mr Brassett and dogs arrived in Dunedin last Thursday and were confronted with a gale blowing more than 130kmh.
“None of us were particularly enjoying that day.
“Piccolo was in the back so he was all right. Me and Jake, I just decided we were going to plug on and get to our destination so I could dry him off properly but, yeah, that was a bit miserable.”
Mr Brassett estimated he would complete his journey about January 7 next year, a year after he left Invercargill.
For more information, go to the “Longest Walk NZ” Facebook page or to donate in support of Mr Brassett’s walk or to animal welfare organisations, search “The Longest Walk NZ” on Givealittle.