Anything is Paw-sible! Founder of Tails of Bamford running Manchester Half for Local Animal Sanctuary

Liv Cunningham is a woman on a mission: to challenge herself with her first half marathon while raising money to support vulnerable animals. The owner of Tails of Bamford – a pet service provider with a behaviour specialism – is admittedly not as passionate about running as she is about dogs: “My family did a double take when I told them I was running a half marathon! It’s very much something anyone – myself included – thought I’d ever do! ” However, Liv is determined to make it to the finish line at the Manchester Half, having raised money for the Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary in Ramsbottom.

As dog-lovers, when the Manchester Half team heard what Liv was doing, we had to get in touch to find out more. Learn more about the work Liv is doing – as well as the adorable dogs she looks after! – in the conversation below. You can also support Liv in her challenge here.

  1.   Hi Liv! Introduce yourself to us!

My name’s Olivia and I currently live in Rochdale, Bamford . I currently own Tails of Bamford, a successful dog walking business, in the Rochdale area and we’ve also just expanded to Ramsbottom which is amazing.

I’ve always loved dogs and have two adorable spaniels-  Ted is 8 years old and Henry is just 2. My dogs are a big part of my life and I just love them to bits!

  1.   What made you set up Tails of Bamford and what has your journey been like? Do you hope to expand / grow your business in the future?

I started Tails of Bamford after leaving university; I was feeling a bit lost, as everyone does, and I’d just done an animal  behaviour degree. I’d always owned dogs and thought I’d give a dog walking business a go. Luckily, this was where I found my passion!

I worked part-time jobs during the early stages of the business, and we did fall on hard times during covid when we unfortunately had to close the business. However, we are back now and stronger than ever before.

We have been lucky enough to expand to Ramsbottom recently, so fingers crossed this continues to go smoothly. In the future, I aim to keep expanding the business and just seeing where it goes really. I’ve always wanted a ‘doggie empire’ from watching Hotel for Dogs when I was younger! Now that I’m older I just want it to help dogs and to help pet owners…

  1.   Why are you running the Manchester Half Marathon in October? Have you run half marathons before?

The reason I am running is to raise money for Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary. Every Christmas Tails of Bamford does something for charity (dog and animal related). This year I wanted to do something bigger and to challenge myself more. I am not a runner. In fact, I’ve never really run before and I’d say it’s not something I’m confident in at all. So… Manchester Half 2023, here goes nothing!

  1.   What will the money raised through your fund do / how will it benefit dogs in the local community?

The biggest thing is the vet bills – the majority of animals need some sort of care and any pet owner will know the dread of waiting to hear what the bill at the vet reception desk. Lots of families get pets – particularly dogs – on an impulse; a ‘puppy for Christmas’ for example. When the dog starts to need to see a vet, they realise that they can’t afford the bills and so abandon their dog at Bleakholt – where the vet bill then falls on them.

  1.   Tell about the dogs you both own and look after – without making us too jealous!

We’ve got our beautiful boy Henry who is a Cocker Spaniel who is 2 years old. We also have our King Charles Ted – our little old man – who had his eye removed this year but still looks as handsome as ever. At Tails of Bamford, we have a few characters such as Jess who is fully blind and deaf and is just the most precious soul. We’ve also got little Millie Moo who has a soft spot in my heart. She also has an eye missing and she loves spinning and making a lot of noise! They’re all amazing dogs though and I am so blessed to be able to hang out with them!

  1.   What are you most looking forward to about the Manchester Half Marathon and who is supporting you on the day?

If I’m completely honest, I am very nervous! However, I know that I’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and I’ll just be happy if I do it without stopping. I’ve got loads of my family and friends coming to support me so it should be a great day out overall. Thank you everyone who has supported me and to the Human Race team for asking me to do this interview!

  1.   Finally, as you may know, this is the Express Yourself edition of the Manchester Half. Tell us how you are / will EXPRESS YOURSELF at or through our event! 

I will be expressing and celebrating how amazing the human body is during my first half marathon. Before I began my training I couldn’t even run round the block. But after months of consistent training I have run as far as 11km which I did quite easily. I never in a million years thought I would be able to do 5km but to think I will have done 21.2km in just under one week blows me away! It is just amazing. My favourite saying is that you can do anything that you work hard enough for. I am here to prove that this is true.