On the road with pals Jake and Piccolo to back animal welfare

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Getting to know Stephen Brassett and his dog Jake were Tinwald School pupils Nick Collie, 10, Oli Nicholls, 10, Kayne Johnston, 9, and Thomas Robertson, 10, during a break in Stephen's longest walk.

By Maureen Bishop

A desire to be more proactive in promoting animal welfare has been taken literally by Wellington man Stephen Brassett.

A former dog handler at an animal shelter, Mr Brassett thought he could do more.

His answer was to take his two dogs, Jake, five and Piccolo, 11, on the longest walk of their lives.

They are walking the length of New Zealand visiting animal shelters, animal rescues, schools and other groups in an effort to raise funds and awareness.

This week he was taking a break in Ashburton, visiting his grandmother Fay Brassett at Millstream, and other relatives, before visiting primary schools to talk to pupils.

Mr Brassett left Invercargill on January 7 and arrived in Ashburton on Monday.

“I have no time limit for the journey but I think it will take me roughly a year.”

He tries to cover between 20 to 25kms a day.

The purpose-built trailer contains his bed, cooking and washing facilities – and provides a resting place for the dogs, when their feet get sore or they get tired.

Jake walks most of the distance each day, but Piccolo averages between five and 10km.

One of the challenges was finding a safe place to park up for the night, Mr Brassett said.

He doesn’t mind a section or paddock, an official camping ground or someone’s back yard.

A Give-A-Little page for The Longest Walk is accepting donations for animal welfare groups and his progress can be followed on Facebook, facebook.com/thelongestwalknz