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‘Biggest dog in Newcastle’ is helping children learn about dog safety

School children in the North East are being offered the chance to learn about pet care and dog safety, with the help of a giant four-legged friend and Blue Cross pet charity.

Enormous Irish wolfhound Bramble and her owner, Blue Cross Education Officer Helen Spicer, visit schools and youth groups across the North East. The pair work with youngsters to inform them about responsible pet ownership and how to be stay safe around dogs – more important than ever following a report last year* showing that the North East was amongst the worst areas in the country for dog bites.

Helen says: “Bramble definitely makes an impression when we go on a school visit – I haven’t seen a bigger wolfhound in Newcastle yet! I call her the ‘Miranda Hart of the dog world’ as she’s so big for a girl and really makes us laugh. She really helps the children to get engaged with the subject.”

She adds: “With a high incidence of dog-related injuries locally, it’s more important than ever that children learn how to interact with dogs safely and the importance of caring properly for pets and training them well.  Our talks will both help to keep people safe and improve animal welfare, as the children we meet are the pet owners of the future.”

Helen and Bramble recently visited the 44th Newcastle Brownies and Team Leader Charlotte Cooper, said: “It was a really good workshop – the girls were so engaged throughout. One of the girls is wary of dogs in general, so it was really nice to see her stroking Bramble by the end of the session. Bramble is so nice natured – she did so well in front of a group of lively girls.”

Blue Cross education speakers offer talks, assemblies and workshops geared to different ages for schools, all ages of Guides and Scouts, youth clubs and horse talks for pony clubs and are particularly appropriate to the PHSE Citizenship and science elements of the National Curriculum. Blue Cross reached over 70,000 children and young people last year.

Some Blue Cross education speakers are accompanied by their dogs, which have to pass strict assessment criteria to become education dogs

To organise a Blue Cross education talk, visit or phone Helen Spicer on: 07810 153613. Talks are free but donations are welcome, as Blue Cross is funded entirely through public donations.


Notes to Editors

* NHS figures released in 2015 showed North Durham, Gateshead and west Newcastle are all in the top 10 areas for people admitted to hospital with dog-related injuries:

Photos of Helen and Bramble are available, please contact the media team.
Sick, injured and homeless pets have relied on Blue Cross since 1897. Abandoned or unwanted, ill or injured, pets turn to us for help every year. Our doors are always open to them, and with your support, they always will be.
Each year, thousands of cats, dogs, small pets and horses turn to our animal hospitals, clinics and rehoming services for treatment and to find them the happy homes they deserve.
For more information, please visit
Blue Cross actively campaigns to improve all aspects of animal welfare, working with the government, schools and others to improve the lives of pets and their owners.

Media contact

Sophia Khan, Media Officer: [email protected] / 020 7932 4070.

Bramble, Blue Cross education dog visiting a Brownie group