Snow-doubt these pooches made a splash!

09 November 2016

Two perfect pooch pack pals have earned a dog treat from their owners for drawing crowds and winning hearts.

Northumbrian Water’s Snowdogs, Essie (Essence of the North) and Patch (Patchwork Northumberland) are far from in the doghouse after both drew in amazing visitor numbers, as part of the Great North Snowdog Trail, organised by St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice.

Essie, designed by artist Geoff Chappell and positioned proudly outside Newcastle’s Theatre Royal, has been especially popular with those looking to ‘unlock’ the pooches via the special Snowdogs app, racking up nearly 4,000 unlocks, an estimated 40,000 visitors and having already received 140 votes for ‘Best in Show’.

While Essie’s country canine compadre Patch, the most northern and off-trail Snowdog, has pulled-in nearly 800 unlocks, with organisers estimating that around 7,000 people so far have visited its kennel-spot at Leaplish at Kielder Forrest.

Patch is proving so popular with visitors, that it has notched up nearly 100 votes for ‘Best in Show’, which makes it the second most-loved Snowdog when comparing visitor numbers ratios to votes cast.

Heidi Mottram, chief executive of Northumbrian Water, said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to be involved in the Great North Snowdogs project and we are delighted that Essie and Patch stand out of the pack! It is also fantastic that we have been able to encourage people to get on their feet and explore the towns, cities, coast and countryside in our beautiful region.

“It is very special that the world of business, art and charity have been brought together is such a fun way and that the money raised at the auction in December will help many families in their time of need.”

The Great North Snowdogs project was designed to bring together businesses, artists, schools and community groups to create a public trail of dog sculptures, based on the story The Snowman and The Snowdog, by Raymond Briggs. The project has been organised by St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice with local businesses and organisations sponsoring individual dogs to raise funds for the charity.

A total of 61 dogs made up the 10-week trial – accompanied by 97 smaller dogs designed by schools across the region – encouraging more people to get out and explore the North East, with the main trail following the route of the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Northumbrian Water’s two Snowdogs have been supplemented by two of the puppies that the business has donated to Kielder First School and Castle View Enterprise Academy, in Sunderland.

Jane Hogan, Great North Snowdogs project lead, said: “The Snowdogs project has been fantastic for all of those who have been involved – from the artists and schoolchildren who got arty decorating the pooches, to the businesses who have made a great contribution to St Oswald’s, and not forgetting the people of the North East who have taken up the opportunity to explore more of their beautiful home region.

“We’re delighted that the Snowdogs have been so well received by the people of the North East, even the funds that have been raised by the thousands of downloads of the app for people to unlock each dog has been an immense help towards supporting such a worthwhile charity.”

The Snowdogs app has been downloaded 10,720 times, with over 140,000 dogs being ‘unlocked’ by visitors. Organisers are now asking for people to vote for their favourite dog, with 8,500 votes already cast to crown ‘Best in Show’.

To mark the end of the nine-week trail, organisers are hosting a farewell weekend running from Friday, December 2 through to Sunday, December 4, before the auction on Tuesday, December 6 at the Sage in Gateshead, that will see the dogs off to their forever-homes and raising more funds for the charity’s important work.

For more information on the Great North Snowdogs visit www.greatnorthsnowdogs.co.uk.

Photograph caption: Heidi Mottram meets Essence of the North outside Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.

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