Hometown Heroes: Charity began with dogs for MTU lecturer 

Hometown Heroes: Charity began with dogs for MTU lecturer 

Máire's parents, Ted O Sullivan and Margaret Lougheed at her PhD conferring at UCC in 2018.

A passion for dogs is the main reason MTU lecturer Máire O’Sullivan has dedicated her spare time over the past eight years to volunteering with Cork Dog Animal Welfare Group (DAWG).

Máire, who is originally from Douglas spent some time working in the UK but still maintained her commitment to the charity by looking after their website and social media from afar.

The Digital Marketing lecturer said the main reason she is involved in the charity is the dogs.

“The best part is seeing a really broken dog heal, going from cowering to snoring on the couch! They are amazing animals, They always believe the best about people and they live in the moment. I’ve also made great friends - I had DAWG people at my wedding.” 

Máire also said that it is a great boost when people who have adopted dogs from the charity get in contact and to hear their success stories about dogs that have settled into a new home and who are loved and adored by their new owners.

“I meet people or get messages from people that have DAWG dogs and their love and enthusiasm for their dogs is wonderful. They always want to tell you about how special and how wonderful the dog is, and they all are!” 

The Digital Marketing expert said that volunteering has taught her about the broad spectrum of human behaviour and the power of everlasting love from a dog.

“It has taught me that people are unbelievably cruel and callous and also unbelievably generous and giving.” 

Máire herself has had a number of dogs over the years, both pets and foster pets, that have given her a wealth of memories to enjoy and reminisce.

Her first two dogs, Suzie and Honey, were puppies when Máire and her husband Tom took them in twelve and a half years ago.

One of Máire's two dogs, Suzie, who is a golden retriever that Máire and her husband Tom have had for the past 12 and a half years since she was a puppy. Pic: Máire O'Sullivan.
One of Máire's two dogs, Suzie, who is a golden retriever that Máire and her husband Tom have had for the past 12 and a half years since she was a puppy. Pic: Máire O'Sullivan.

Although Honey has since passed away, Suzie is still with them. Cal the hound was a foster dog that Máire remembers fondly. Cal was eventually adopted by her postman.

“They were meant for each other. The first time they met, Cal was at the end of the stairs and I was telling the postman not to mind Cal as he didn’t like men due to his history and Cal made a lier out of me, walking straight up to him and licking his ear.” Máire and Tom took in numerous dogs over the years, but the next one they kept was called Tiny.

“I had a very timid German Shepherd called Sheba for a few weeks and on the day she got adopted, I got a call to say would I take another dog. There was a picture included but when I got there I realised there hadn’t been anything for scale in the picture. This was more pony than a dog. The dog, which I named ‘Tiny’ had been hit by a car and brought in by two volunteers and the guards. He had been paralysed and in shock.” 

Máire said that it was around Christmas time and Tiny wasn’t able to walk after the incident, but after some help, he eventually got up and running again although he did need consistent physiotherapy.

“He was with me for five wonderful years. For three of those he served as DAWG’s ambassador and went to school visits, company days, he had his own kissing booth at our events. He has been gone over two years now and so many people still talk about how special he was, It’s lovely to be with people who understand what an important aspect of your life a dog can be.” 

Now Máire and Tom have two dogs at the moment, Suzie and Conan, a rescue they got in the UK.

“He has an auto-immune disease, his spine is fused and twisted, he is blind in one eye and partially deaf. He was full on with Suzie at the start and she wasn’t so sure, but now they are bets friends. She looks out for him because he doesn’t think for himself. God bless him, he is not right, so Suzie takes care of him, she takes him around and reminds him to drink water and to pee, she is like his carer!” 

One of Máire's two dogs, Conan, who is a Dogue de Bordeaux canine. Conan has an auto-immune disease, his spine is fused and twisted, he is blind in one eye and partially deaf. Pic Máire O'Sullivan
One of Máire's two dogs, Conan, who is a Dogue de Bordeaux canine. Conan has an auto-immune disease, his spine is fused and twisted, he is blind in one eye and partially deaf. Pic Máire O'Sullivan

Conan is a little anxious so since they took him in, they can’t take in any more foster dogs.

“He is frightened of everything, but he has no ill-will, he is just a messy dog!” 

Chatting about how things have changed for DAWG since the Pandemic, Máire said there are less fundraising opportunities, but the bills still needed to be paid.

“The demand for dogs has gone through the roof. Any time we have puppies or small ‘cute’ dogs we get hundreds of applications - a lot of which are not suitable and haven’t read the description of the dog.” 

Máire said there have been fewer owner surrenders over the past 12 months.

“We used to get a lot of wonderful dogs where the family felt they didn’t have time for them anymore, or they were moving etc. Now all anyone has is time. But we worry about the flood of ‘covid puppies’ we may see needing rehoming next year.” 

Mentioning the other DAWG volunteers, Máire said everyone was very motivated and passionate about dogs and about the charity.

“We are all in it for the dogs.” 

To find out more about DAWG or to donate to the charity, click here..

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