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  • Don’t dismiss the dog walker’s jackets.

    I have become a dog walker. And I love it.

    On Heughscar Hill

    Around this time last year our new pup Sete had all her injections and tablets and was allowed out into the big bad world for the first time. This was brilliant. We had been gagging to get out for big walks with our new pal but pups can’t go out until they have been inoculated against whatever it is that makes them poorly, and looking at some of the horrendous stuff she eats, she’s going to need help here.

    That used to be a chicken.

    So I went from being pretty much a fair weather walker, no shame in that, especially when you live in the Lakes and can choose your days out, to being a responsible dog owner with a young enthusiastic Springer Spaniel to tire out 3 times a day. Well, 2 times a day. Mary always does the morning shift, which at the moment is sponsored by Petzl. That’s another thing that’s changed. I always used to be in favour of staying on British Summer Time through the winter so we got a bit of light after work. But now I want to keep GMT or push for GMT-1 so we can have time for a good walk before work. Another skill I’ve acquired since turning 40, the ability to get out of bed early, actually wanting to get up earlier. I only used to manage this on Christmas morning.

    Anyway, as someone who has sold waterproof jackets for the last 100 years, I, like most staff in outdoor shops, have used the term “dog walker’s jacket” as a derogatory term. Sneering at jackets that are plain and boxy and don’t utilise every pocket as an extra vent. Well I would like to apologise for any jacket snobbery I may have displayed, or if any of my comments could have been interpreted as belittling the daily constitutional with man’s best friend as compared to a yomp up Blencathra.

    The cutest pup in the world.

    I have come to realise that to be out every day, in every kind of wet horrid rain that we get is the true test for any jacket built to withstand the elements. From innocent looking drizzle that gets in everywhere, more like a damp cloud wafting down your neck or up your sleeve, to good old fashioned stair rods that will fill your boots in less than a minute. A regular dog walker will have more experience of extreme weather and be better placed to comment on jacket design than most mountaineers.

    I have discovered the ultimate dog walking trousers. Sprayway’s All Day Rainpants are waterproof trousers that are just worn on their own, not an overtrouser but a waterproof pair of walking trousers. And I am stupid. I have just got soaked taking the dog out, and I left my All Day Rainpants behind because I thought it didn’t look like rain. It can always rain! I live in Cumbria, expect rain!! The great thing about these is you just put them on anyway so if it rains you are dry, and if it doesn’t rain, well done, you have avoided rain. But for them to work at their best they have to be worn. They don’t work very well hanging on the back of the utility room door.

    Sprayways All Day Rainpant.

    Sprayways All Day Rainpant.

    I will be a lot more respectful to any jacket that is designed purely to keep the wearer dry and weighs more than a sandwich. And also to those brave folk who are out, with my wife (?), at 6 O’Clock every morning, in every kind of weather, not because it is there, but because the dog will pee in your house if you don’t. So next time you hear a shop assistant sneering at a jacket as a dog walking jacket, quiz him on it. Find out if it really is that good, or if you would be better off with something designed to keep mountaineers happy.

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