Leeds dog walking group bringing owners together over love of 'friendly and happy' Westies breed

Middleton Park in Leeds was awash with the white, wagging tails of Westie pooches this weekend as a Leeds dog group hosted a walk for a huge number of West Highland White Terriers.

By Alex Grant
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 4:45 am

Over 30 little white dogs and a couple of honorary canine members converged at the South Leeds park for a walk and a chat to catch up on and let their charges enjoy a run around together.

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Carole Ann Jackson from Yeadon runs 'Leeds Westie Walkers' and has been organising the walk for West Highland White Terriers and their owners every month for the past eight years.

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Sue Flynn, of Leeds, with Carole Jackson, Founder of the Leeds Westie group, and their dogs Pebbles, Harry, and Dougie. Picture: James Hardisty.

Speaking to the YEP, friend and group member Sue Flynn, discussed the importance of the group in ensuring the dogs are safe when around big dogs.

"It's really grown over the years and we often meet for smaller walks too because a lot of people are worried about their dogs meeting big dogs so they want the other dogs around for strength in numbers," she said.

"But it's also great from the social aspect. Everyone likes to just have a chat about the breed and about health matters."

West Highland White Terriers, more commonly known as 'Westies' are friendly and happy dogs, with a lively nature.

West Highland White Terriers, more commonly known as 'Westies' are friendly and happy dogs, with a lively nature. Picture: James Hardisty.

Unfortunately due to poor breeding the breed can be prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia and skin conditions.

"Westies have such a brilliant personality and playful nature but they can have certain health issues that are quite common which is another good thing about the group you can speak to other owners," Sue explained.

"Skin conditions is a big thing so often the dogs are raw fed to limit the amount of additives but also arthritis is quite common so having that support mechanism is great."

The regular walks started off as a walk with friends and a few Westie dogs on the odd summer evening but now 30 to 40 Westies of all ages take part, young pups alongside the oldies, many even in buggies.

Sue has had Westies for over 20 years and is currently the proud owner of two adopted Westies who needed to be rehomed following owner deaths during lockdown.

"Sometimes, especially maybe with an older person, you might not have a reason to go out so having a dog is brilliant for getting you out to the park, meeting people but also the activity and the fitness element is really important as well," Sue said.

"The dogs are such brilliant company too. They keep you going because there is always something to be done - always food to be prepared, medication to give, walks to give. They are so good at giving you a clock and schedule for your day."

The group, which was originally set up by Carole Ann Jackson here in Leeds, has now turned into a national community for Westie owners.

“Lots of visitors have to look twice when they see all of our white dogs descend on the park. I have always had Westies and the monthly Westie Walk is a great way of all meeting up together with fellow Westie-lovers," Carole Ann said.

"Many of the Westies joining us on our walks have been 'pre-loved' or rescued from puppy farms. They sometimes have sad backgrounds but they all love their day out walking, playing and generally getting very mucky."

"Needless to say, a bath is the order of the day at the end of the walk." she added.