By Leah Fox
An animal-loving schoolboy who left waterproof boxes full of dog toys in his local parks for pooches to use has gone viral for his adorable idea.
‘Dog-sessed’ Joshua Forster, six, loves going for walks after school with his auntie Ainsley Corrigan and her Puggle Rex and Frockapoo Luna at Taylor Park in his hometown of St Helens, Merseyside.
After walking the two-year-old and 10-month-old hounds on a particularly rainy day, Josh came up with the idea to leave a plastic box of toys in the park for dogs to use so their owners don’t need to carry soggy toys home with them.
The community-spirited youngster, who helps Ainsley look after her dogs as his parents are too busy running a business to have pets, has since installed the handy boxes full of up to 10 toys in two more parks – paying for this with his pocket money.
And the miniature businessman’s adorable stunt has since gone viral – racking up hundreds of likes and shares on Facebook – with kind strangers offering him everything from Amazon vouchers to Crufts tickets.
Ainsley, 27, said: “Every chance Josh gets, he comes round to my house to see my two dogs or asks if they can go to his for a sleepover – he tells everybody that they’re his dogs!
“I walk the dogs with him after school and one time it was a wet and rainy day and we were thinking that there should be a box to leave the dogs’ toys in when they’re a bit soggy.
“From then on Josh was determined to get a box, so we got lots of dog toys and a plastic box with his pocket money and put it on the hill of our local park.
“It lasted a couple of weeks before it was broken, but when I showed Josh a picture he just said ‘oh well, let’s just make another!’
“Someone messaged me personally and said how much Josh had touched her heart and she couldn’t stand to see him upset about the broken box, so she bought a new one and filled it with toys for Josh to take back.
“Since then, the response has been incredible – a man from London saw the post and sent an email with £30 worth of Amazon vouchers for more dog toys and an extra £25 for Josh to treat himself.
“I told Josh about the vouchers and he said ‘maybe if we just use it all on the dogs, because going to the park with them is a treat for me’.
“I’m so proud, it’s so nice to see – every day I get a message about the boxes and he’s now got a proper hand in business.”
Year One pupil Josh usually places the plastic box full of dog toys he’s collected at the entrance to a park, or somewhere everyone can see it.
There is a message on the lid that reads: ‘Feel free to use one for your furry friend but please return it in the end’.
The business-minded six-year-old spent one week carrying out small tasks for his family to earn pocket money for the first box, and he now puts them together from a mix of the pocket money and other people’s donations.
Since Ainsley set Josh up with a Facebook page, hundreds of people have messaged her to say he is a credit to his family, offering toys and alternative boxes to help him continue his mission.
The Kennel Club even sent Josh free tickets to attend Crufts in Birmingham last Sunday because of his love for pooches.
Ainsley has been in touch with her local council in hopes of placing more boxes across parks in St Helens, and so far they are in two more different parks – Queen’s Park and Thatto Heath Park – but Josh isn’t stopping there and hopes to inspire people from all corners of the UK to take up the challenge too.
In the future, the youngster hopes to have lots of his own dogs and work from home surrounded by them all.
Ainsley, who works for her family’s fire and security business, added: “His family are all so proud of him and ask him questions every day about where he’s going to go with it next – he’s on a big doggy mission.
“He’s very business-minded and his mum and dad are business owners, so it must run in the family – he’s always coming up with new ideas for the boxes.
“He’s hoping others across the UK see the idea and do it in their own park, he would be chuffed to see something like that.
“I hope everyone sees that it’s such a small gesture but it’s a big reward for him, it would be nice if everyone got involved.”
Josh’s mum Natalie, 31, added: “We are all so proud of Josh – it’s amazing to see that the bond he has with his Auntie Ainsley and her dogs has managed to become recognised within the community through such a lovely compassionate gesture!
“I’m lucky to have both a son and a sister who show everyone that it’s nice to be nice, something we definitely need more of in the world!
“I would also like to thank everyone for the support he has received so far.”
You can follow Josh’s social media accounts at @dogboxjosh.