Made-in-Norwich dogs about to be unleashed world-wide
- Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017
Dog and phone heritage hounds - a family of friendly soft-toy Go Walkeez dogs are helping children sniff out history
Take a brightly coloured toy dog for a walk – and discover intriguing facts about your surroundings.
Kazz Morohashi, of Norwich, has created a pack of soft toy sausage dogs to help families find out more about history, geography, art and architecture.
She has made around 20 sausage dogs, with wheels for their back legs, so that children can pull them around streets, footpaths, museums and galleries. Now she is putting together maps and trails for special occasions and particular venues, with questions for families to answer as they walk their 'Go Walkeez' dog.
Children are encouraged to take a photograph when they discover an answer, or something that particularly interests them, and then show off their finds, and pictures, at the end of their adventure.
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The dogs began life as a degree project when Kazz was an MA student at the Norwich University of the Arts (NUA).
'Once I was visiting Felbrigg Hall, near Cromer, and the parents were really interested but their boy was really bored and disengaged and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be nice if they were all able to share the experience,'' she said.
Kazz comes from Los Angeles and moved to Norwich to work at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. She enrolled at NUA and after her Go Walkeez project won an award from the Royal Society of Arts she is now developing it further as part of her doctorate.
The project is aimed at primary school age children and Kazz creates the dogs herself from cork and textiles – with each subject to stringent toy safety tests.
'Kids like how tactile they are,' she said. 'Making the dogs is really fun.' At home her kennel of Go Walkees creations is joined by a pet Chihuahua and Kazz said: 'It's nice to be able to pick up a dog and put it in your bag!'
At Go Walkeez events, families borrow the dogs and take pictures of them sniffing out fascinating facts and places.
At a trail developed for the Sainsbury Centre, on the University of East Anglia campus, one of the tasks is to find and photograph the oldest object the dogs and their human handlers can sniff out, another is to find a mysterious object. At an event at Whitlingham Country Park, near Norwich, children and their dogs looked for tiny natural treasures.
Kazz is also working on cardboard Go Walkeez kits with dogs that can be printed out, decorated and assembled, for adventures when the soft-toy dogs are not available.
However, several of the Go Walkeez dogs are already well-travelled. 'Some of my friends with kids have taken the dogs on holiday. One has been to Japan,' said Kazz.
She said the project was growing fast. 'It's nice to see parents who come back as excited as their children. It would be really, really nice to go into schools with the dogs.'
And she would also love to create a trail, in the style of the decorated animals which regularly roam through towns and cities. 'It would be really nice if it happened in Norwich because Norwich is so full of heritage and history and it's also a very walkable city.'
Weekend dog walks
This Saturday and Sunday, September 10 and 11, children can take a Go Walkeez dog on an adventure around the Elm Hill, Colegate and Hungate area of Norwich, as part of Heritage Open Days.
The trail is a collaboration between Go Walkeez and the University of East Anglia's Medieval Parish Churches of Norwich Research Project.
The dogs, and guides for adults and children, full of maps and info, can be picked up at St Peter Hungate Church, Princes Street, Norwich, between 11am and 2pm each day, with all dogs due home by 4pm.
There are five 'sniff stops' on the fun family walk and children are encouraged to take pictures and share them when they return their dog, or upload them to the Go Walkeez Facebook page or website if they want to help their canine friends spread the word, or woof, about the wonders they have sniffed out.