A NETWORKING group with a difference has been set up for people who fancy a lunchtime walk with their dogs.

It has been launched by the staff at dog-crazy Carlisle legal firm Wragg Mark-Bell in response to the growing trend for people to bring their dogs into work.

The company has been taking the lead on the trend. There dogs in almost every office - staff have 17 between them - with senior partner Nick Kennon being kept company by Fern, a placid 13-year-old Irish wolfhound-greyhound cross and Benji, a dog rescued from Cyprus.

Many other businesses believing that having a dog at work is good for office morale and destressing.

But what’s in it for the dogs enjoying a day at the office? Netwalking, of course.

Nick hopes the idea of group walks at lunchtime from the city centre and around Bitts Park will provide an alternative way for people from businesses to meet up - as well as exercising their dogs.

He said: “We’ve been bringing dogs into work for a while now and it certainly helps everyone relax a bit. You do need to think about walking them during the day and from our offices on Castle Street we notice people nipping out from other businesses with their dogs during the day.

“So we thought it would be a monthly dog walk would be a great way to get to know some other Carlisle businesses. It is a good time to start it too - with the nights drawing in it’s a chance to get some fresh air during the day before it gets dark.”

Dan Matthews, of the appropriately named Black Lab Software, supports the idea and said: “I often work in The Guild and quite a few of us bring our dogs along so this will be a good chance to get out into the park and chat with some interesting businesses.”

The first ‘Netwalking with Wagg Mark-Bell’ takes place on October 16 at 12.30pm, starting from Castle Street and setting off for a circuit around Bitts Park. Anyone interested in taking part is ask to register at bit.ly/netwalk