A holiday in the Med - at a dog rescue charity

Lesley O'Donoghue with one of the rescue dogs
Lesley O'Donoghue with one of the rescue dogs

You could be forgiven for thinking Lesley O’Donoghue is barking mad.

Instead of soaking up the sun on the beach at a friend’s wedding in Cyprus, she opted to spend her free time looking after unwanted dogs.

Lesley found a job scrubbing kennels on the sun-kissed Mediterranean island when she jetted out with the 40-strong party.

She heard about one or two dog rescue shelters when she got there and just couldn’t let the opportunity go begging.

Lesley, 28, who lives with her partner Ben Cartwright in Buckshaw Village, near Chorley, was delighted she’d got stuck into the volunteer work.

Ben, 27, who attended Runshaw College, lived in Mawdesley and they both originate from Preston.

“I love my holidays as much as the next person,” said Lesley, who previously lived in Ribbleton, Preston.

“But I was having a chat to the hotel receptionist and we were discussing how much we loved dogs.

“Then she told me about a couple of local dog rescue shelters.

“I work at Dogs Trust and I knew that just like all rescue charities in the UK, they probably rely on volunteers, so I asked if they needed any help, and a couple of days later headed off to help out.”

In soaring temperatures, Lesley spent time at the Argos Animal Sanctuary and Noah’s Ark Dog Shelter, helping settle in dogs that had just been brought to the shelters, socialising the dogs to make sure they were happy to play together and cleaning kennels.

The former pupil of Corpus Christi RC High School and ex-student at Cardinal Newman College said: “Abandoned dogs come to the shelters in Cyprus every day and they rely entirely on donations doing an incredible job often in sweltering heat – obviously very different to the weather we have to contend with most of the year in Lancashire.

“It was heart-breaking to see so many dogs needing to find homes, but it was also heart-warming to meet people that do everything they can to give the dogs better lives and a great future.”

Later in the year, when Lesley, who did volunteer work at Homeless Hounds rescue in Preston, has some time off from her full-time job as deputy manager of Dogs Trust’s newest rehoming centre in Manchester, she will again help out more homeless dogs – this time at PAWS Patas, a dog and cat rescue centre in Spain.

“At the wedding venue there was a quote on the wall that said, ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’ and that just about sums up how I feel about my work,” said Lesley, whose friends Ashleigh and Ben Hinchcliffe, from Croston, were married. “It was fantastic having time to relax with family and friends and it was a wonderful wedding, but being able to share my time looking after the dogs, making sure they had a bit more attention and a few more cuddles than usual, made the trip all the more memorable.

“Far better than if I’d just spent my time getting a tan!”