The Value of Volunteering

By November 7, 2015 Uncategorized 2 Comments

A Day At Ash Animal Rescue

Lovely Layla

Lovely Layla

I consider myself to be a very lucky person as I spent nearly six years working in rescue with some incredible dogs and truly wonderful people. When I left Dogs Trust I was deeply saddened to say goodbye to some fantastic dogs having formed some very deep, loving and trusting relationships. Thankfully I was in a position to give some of my free time to volunteer and what I discovered was that even one hour with one dog in one month was a wonderful thing for them to have. As a volunteer you do not have the same time pressures as staff who are trying to cram a million tasks into one day, instead I had the chance to just be with the dogs and them with me.

I regularly went to see the babies and as much as I adored this time it occurred to me that Dogs Trust is in a very fortunate position as they have a lot of staff and volunteers and great financial resources to support the dogs in their care.

This started me thinking, is there any other charity that I could help that perhaps doesn’t have as much?

Maggie Moo

Maggie Moo

At the same time as I was mulling this over two good friends of mine adopted a beautiful Deerhound cross called Maggie from Ash Animal Rescue in Wicklow and they raved about the experience – not to mention their fabulous new dog!

So I contacted the rescue and with my close friend and colleague Katie we organised to spend a day with the dogs in their care. Ash is a family run charity with Helena and Remi giving over their home and surrounding land to care for hundreds of unwanted animals each year.

They do this incredible work with the support of a small handful of staff and some dedicated volunteers. They also rely really heavily on money donated by the public to help finance their huge running costs and astronomical vet bills.

Peter. Katie and Layla.

Peter, Katie and Layla

When we got there Helena asked us to take out two of their long termers, a beautiful but very nervous collie called Peter and his best pal Layla the foxhound. Despite looking a little worse for wear from her time as a working hunt dog Layla is everyone’s best friend. Sadly, however having spent a large portion of his life in a shed, Peter is slow to trust. Firm friends Peter and Layla won’t go anywhere without one another and they can only go out if Peter feels comfortable with the person at the end of his lead.

Thankfully he decided that we were ok and we enjoyed a lovely 40 minute country walk across some fields. The real joy of this was not the walk but instead seeing Peter contentedly snoozing several hours later – proof that even 40 minutes can in fact make a huge difference to that one dog.

After our walk we were invited into Helene and Remi’s living room which they share with 8-11 dogs every evening when they settle down after an arduous day balancing all the challenges that come with running a rescue.

Stunning Stevie the elderly tripod

Stunning Stevie the elderly tripod

The dogs we met inside were either medically “special” or at the very twilight of their lives and had found a forever home with Helena and Remi. When asked if they were available for adoption I was told “of course” but only if it was right for the dog as some may find the move too distressing. To the very end the dogs’ needs were put first – even if it meant that the people in the family had nowhere to sit on the sofa!

Droop the Basset and Lovely St Bernard Lola

Droop the Basset and lovely St Bernard Lola

The house is literally packed with dogs and cats and Helena knew ever one by name and could give us detailed accounts of where they had come from, what type of home they were looking for and if they had any medical issues that needed treating.

Helena also referenced several of the leading veterinary care specialists around the country that are employed to care for the animals if they need it – no cost is too much. Equally every dog that passed us in the hall on route for a walk was the picture of health.

The newest donkey residents

The newest donkey residents

Outside there are dogs, cats, pigs, ducks, chickens, donkeys, horses and even foxes housed in every available square inch of the space surrounding the house. It makes for a noisy space but again all the animals are safe and have a full belly and bed to curl up in at night.

It was a joy meeting all the residence and my heart definitely melted a little meeting the very gorgeous Kevin Bacon!

Kevin Bacon! :-)

Kevin Bacon! :-)

Spending time with the animals highlighted that Helene and Remi and their team are doing an amazing job at Ash Animal Rescue but it is a constant battle making sure all the jobs get done every day, there is enough money to run the charity and ultimately that the animals in their care find a loving home to call their own.

So what can YOU do to help Ash Animal Rescue or equally your local charity?

Often people say to me “I couldn’t volunteer, its too depressing” or “I’d want to take them all home” and yes it is true volunteering may not be for everyone but equally you may never know unless you try! :-)

Remember not all volunteering needs to be about spending time with the animals – sometimes it is about giving your time, energy and/or financial support.

Ash, along with charities all over the country, ask for support via;

  • Fundraising
  • Cleaning & meal preparation
  • Building work/maintenance
  • Using your own professional skill set to help them – for example if you are a web designer, film maker, photographer or an accountant they would likely be thrilled with your support.
  • Donations
  • Transport
  • Fostering

I promise you that if you even give one day, once a year the animals and the people who care for them will be so very grateful and you will equally get something from it… the feeling of having given something back.

When Katie and I left at the end of the day we were all chat about when we could get back and who we would like to spend time with on our next visit… I have my eyes firmly set on Peter! :-)

Beautiful Special Peter

Beautiful Special Peter


  • Hi Guys,

    What a beautiful piece. It’s really inspired me to give up a day here and there for such a worthy cause. I have two Jack Russels myself so am well versed at dog handling. However if there’s anything at all, even outside of looking after the animals that I can do please get in touch.

    Kind regards,