Fundraising fitness challenge for the Thin Blue Paw Foundation

Ministry of Defence Police
4 min readSep 1, 2021

MDP officers complete a 12-hour fitness challenge, to raise funds for the Thin Blue Paw Foundation, which supports serving and retired police dogs across the UK.

PC Duncan smiling at and petting Police Dog Hörbi, with blue skies and grass fields in the background
PC Duncan and PD Hörbi

On Saturday 14 August, PC Duncan and eight MDP colleagues, based at St Fergus in Aberdeenshire, set out to run and cycle as far as they possibly could in 12 off-duty hours, around the Scottish village. The officers clocked up a combined total of over 339 miles and have so far raised over £2000.

Speaking on his work as an MDP dog handler and why he set out to do the challenge, PC Duncan said:

“I joined the Ministry of Defence Police in February 2019, as a new entrant from another police force. I started my police dog training course six months later, partnering with PD Hörbi, a three-year-old Belgian Malinois, general purpose police dog.

“PD Hörbi and I were paired together in October 2019 and we passed our initial training course in the December. Since then, we’ve gone from strength-to-strength. I see improvements in her every day and have also learned a lot about myself in this role.

“Our normal day is spent patrolling the St Fergus area, both on foot and in a police vehicle. Hörbi loves tracking and we work on training regularly. She’s also by my side on my days off, which involve lots of walks and training exercises; being a dog handler really is a full-time job!

“In my role, I became aware of the Thin Blue Paw Foundation. I know dogs that the Foundation has helped, and I decided I wanted to raise awareness and money for the charity. After all, Hörbi might need their help one day.

“I enjoy getting out running and cycling and, while I’ve never won anything, I’ve done a few races ranging from 5K, to a marathon. So, I decided to take on a 12-hour running and cycling challenge. I fancied trying to push myself beyond 26.2 miles, as a bit of a personal challenge as well, and I’m pleased to say that I covered 50.52 miles in total!

“I had initially planned to take on the challenge alone, but word soon spread through our station and my colleagues stepped forward to get involved too.”

Five MDP officers wearing sporting clothes and standing next to a bike
MDP officers from St Fergus, taking part in the 12-hour fitness challenge

Thin Blue Paw Foundation trustee Kieran Stanbridge said:

“There are around 1,500 working police dogs across the UK carrying out a vital job and helping to keep us all safe. We estimate that around 200 to 300 dogs, just like Hörbi, will retire every year and while some will stay with their handlers, others may well be adopted by fellow police staff or by members of the public.

“Responsibility for the retired dogs’ care — and associated costs — then falls solely to their owners. Working dogs can have injuries or medical conditions as a result of their physically demanding lives, meaning that most are uninsurable, so the charity was founded to help provide much-needed financial support to retired dogs and their owners.

“This is an expensive undertaking and we need wonderful supporters like PC Duncan and his colleagues, to help raise funds so we can pay for vital medical treatment and care, to ensure our unsung canine heroes can live long, happy and healthy retirements; it’s the least they deserve after years of service.”

Retired MDP Police Dog Atos was the first dog the Thin Blue Paw Foundation (founded in May 2020) supported, funding an operation to treat a ruptured cruciate ligament. Atos made a full recovery and owners, PC Claire Addems (an MDP Dog Handler) and her family continue to raise funds for the charity.

On Thursday 26 August, our initial police dog training course met Chris, partner of PC Addems, as he crossed the finish line, having walked 120 miles from the North Devon to South Devon coast over four days. During that time Chris spent each night ‘wild camping’ — no tent, just a sleeping bag under the stars! Chris has so far raised £1500 for the foundation.

Three generations of MDP Police Dogs — Retired PD Atos, PD Rex and puppy Cerys — joined the course to congratulate Chris.

Chris and Retired PD Atos (centre) with our our initial police dog training course, and PD Rex (left) and puppy Cerys (right)

Show your support

The fundraising efforts of Chris and PC Duncan and the ‘St Fergus Fitness Club’ are ongoing. You can make a donation by visiting their JustGiving pages:

Just Giving — St Fergus Fitness Club

Just Giving — Chris Parsons — Atos

Find out more:

The Thin Blue Paw Foundation is a registered charity in England and Wales: 1190959. Take a look at the Thin Blue Paw website to find out more.

Learn about the work of MDP dog teams and other specialist roles in the Force: visit www.mod.police.uk

Follow #MDP_PoliceDogs on Facebook and Twitter.

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