Artist and great traveler, Switzerland’s Jessica Bigler has launched a new challenge: to cross Switzerland on foot! It’s 600 kms that she will travel in total autonomy and with her two dogs, Balto and Nice. Beyond the adventure, Jessica is walking for the good cause, to make known and raise funds for her association of animal help in Hungary Yok, created in November 2018, bearing the name of her dog died in September the same year.
“The Yok Association raises donations and funds. We bring donations in Hungary to shelters and pounds in need several times a year. On site with donations we buy food or pay veterinarians for emergencies” she says. Why in Hungary? Because his companion is Hungarian but also because: “I realized the urgency that there was there for the animals while going on a trip in 2010, and I wanted to do something over there. We talk all the time about Romania but nobody takes Hungary into account when the situation is similar “.
In May, Jessica is embarking on a walk through Switzerland. In all, she plans to travel 600 km with her dogs to raise funds for her association. “The purpose of my trip will be to introduce my association to the people I meet and also to involve everyone through the purchase of symbolic kilometers during my trip. Thanks to this fundraising, I would like, eventually, to be able to buy a piece of land to build the shelter of Yok’s house. We have often brought dogs and cats to adopt in Switzerland or France, but we have no structure, no place to us so it limits our actions. We would like to buy land to build our shelter, so we can save more animals, be able to welcome them before their adoption, and keep in our refuge, those who can not be adopted, old, disabled etc. We wish to welcome horses, cats dogs and small animals. Ideally, it would be to raise 80 000 euros to buy land or a farm“.
And the Yok association is a family affair, since Jessica has created it with her mother, her partner and works with other volunteers.
A great lover of animals, it was therefore obvious for the traveler to leave with her two dogs, Balto and Nice, respectively aged 3 and a half and 2 years: “it’s unthinkable for me to leave without them, they are part of my family and it is natural that I organize myself to leave with them“. So by pulling a carrying cart containing all the necessary for her companions and her Jessica will take the road, including a pharmacy kit, slippers in case of injuries to the pads and a few days of food in advance. She will then go to refuel with people she knows, throughout her journey. Finally, the Swiss plans to sleep outside with her dogs: “I don’t plan accommodation, on the one hand it’s not my way of seeing the trip and on the other hand I want to be able to put all the money harvested for the creation of the shelter and not for superfluous things like hotels that I can do without. In addition, I refuse to sleep indoors if my dogs are to stay outside“.
In case of a problem, injury or illness, Jessica’s friends or family will be able to repatriate her with Balto and Nice. If all goes well, the trip should last between four and six weeks: “I have no time limit, it’s important to take the time and not set any imperatives. I will go to the rhythm of my dogs” she explains.
It’s not her first attempt! Jessica has been traveling for more than 10 years and has traveled 16,000 km on horseback and in total autonomy: “I went all this way with my Gypsy horse, who died in 2017, my dog Yok and my horse Admiral, starting from Switzerland, I went to Wales and then preferred the Eastern countries that I crossed from one end to the other. In 2017 I crossed the Carpathians (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland), 1000km with Balto my Malinois to raise funds for shelters in Hungary“.
This time, the trip will be without a horse, already because Jessica’s is dead, but also for practical questions: “I like to walk and it’s also much easier to have only dogs with you. With a dog you can go everywhere, or get on a train if there is an emergency etc. And then I can put my bivouac almost anywhere if I have water for dogs with me. With a horse it’s more complicated“.
As she finishes the preparations for her crossing of Switzerland on foot, Jessica has a tip to give to all those who want to go on a trip with their dog: “don’t think of yourself first. The need for dogs must come before our desire. You have to go at their own pace. I never want to impose anything on them and I will always rather stop than go on to prove something“.