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Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you volunteer with KLAWS

My name is Karen Nagle and I’m involved with the transport of the animals from either the kennels to the foster homes or to the people who are adopting them.

Why and how did you decide to become a volunteer with KLAWS?

Around November or December 2021 I saw an ad for KLAWS looking for volunteers, so I sent in an email and very quickly got a reply back and they were looking for people to take in the animals, the dogs. You know, to take them for overnight or for a couple of weeks or whatever was needed. So, I spoke to the family and they were all on board, and I started then in January 2022.

My very first dog was Sam. I had him for maybe a month or so and he was absolutely fantastic! He was the best start really, to be honest with you, because he was so lovable and just wanted to have fun. I also have a dog of my own named Charlie who’s a Golden Retriever cross and the two of them became best friends instantly, so he kind of fitted into the family straight away. I will say that I was very upset over two dogs really, and he was one of them. I got so attached to him, but he’s gone to a fabulous home now and I’ve got a couple of updates on him and he’s doing really well.

What have you learnt from volunteering?

The thing that I’ve learnt from volunteering is patience, which doesn’t come in a package – you have to learn it. And you have to understand that pups or dogs, when they come to your home, they’re coming from different difficult circumstances. So, it’s better just to give them time to settle in. Not every dog works out – one dog didn’t work out for me. But he’s with his adoptive family in Dingle and I’ve met the owner and they’re very happy with him. But with me, he just clashed with my own dog, he kept running away, he escaped through fox wire, of all things, I thought I had a secure garden but not enough for him. And that was just one of the things I had to learn, that every dog is different. But I have enjoyed it all very much!

What have been the high and low points of your time as a volunteer?

The highs and lows of volunteering for me … I suppose you get very attached to the dogs and the one that I got very attached to was Lottie, who is now Jeanie. She’s over in the UK now with a family with three daughters, and she’s pretty much landed on her feet – they are a fabulous family. When Lottie came to me she was an adult dog and she hid under the table, was afraid of my husband, any man, really. Her teeth were gnawed down because she had been in a chain and she had tried to chew her way out of the chain. You could see that she had been mistreated and was afraid of everything, any noise – the pop of the toaster, anything. She was a very timid dog, you know. And for a while she wouldn’t come near me; but with perseverance it worked out and she did. And what a dream – for her to come around as fast as she did! I could take her for a walk off the lead and she would be by my heel: I would stop and she would stop, she’d sit down and look at you. She was a dream! She was the one I was very upset when handing her over, but I knew that I couldn’t take on another dog if she was there. So, she’s gone to a fabulous family. But yes, she’s the one I often think about. But I’m so happy that she’s doing really well now!

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about volunteering?

What I would say to anyone who’s been thinking about volunteering is give it a shot! When I started I didn’t know what it was going to be about, but you learn and you pick up tips, from other volunteers as well. But I’ve enjoyed every second of it. There have been some sad stories but there’s loads of happy ones as well. My sons’ favourite was Pup, he’s now Paddy. He’s living in the UK with his family in Cambridge. What a fabulous pup he was! We had him for four weeks – I would leave him off his lead on Inch beach and he would do his running and he’d come back to us again. He was so easy to train, to house-train, in the car, he picked up everything so quickly. And the kids absolutely adored him! They were devastated when he left, but they still to this day talk about him, saying that he was the best thing that ever came into our house. But as soon as Paddy was gone, another puppy came into the house, so they were distracted again, you know😊 So, give it a try, see how you get on. You won’t know it till you try it!

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