The Nose of Tralee
By Stacey Wallace, Ireland

Ginger was rescued in December 2012 by a local animal charity in Ireland, the Animal Help Net Kerry. She had been living on a football pitch for months without any human contact and was absolutely petrified of everyone and they found it near impossible to catch her. She was finally brought straight to the vet and had all the classical signs of abuse. She lived with Wendy of Animal Help Net Kerry until March 2013 which is when I adopted her.

I saw a picture of Ginger on a social media site when they were looking to re-home her. After reading her story I immediately knew I had to go see this girl and try and adopt her. When I went to see her she was so scared of everything. I have never seen eyes as sad as Ginger's on that day and for a long time after. This girl needed a quiet loving home and so much attention and I was prepared to do this for her. I got character references for Animal Help Net Kerry and luckily they were happy to let me adopt.

The day we brought Ginger home, I honestly thought this dog could never be happy again. I was shocked at how scared she was and to this day I dread to think what happened to her before she was rescued. After some time, she slowly started to feel at home and although she was still frightened of the slightest movement or any noise, I could tell she was going to be OK. It was going to be a long road but I was certain she would live a happy life again. Slowly but surely, that is exactly what happened. She loves going for walks and absolutely loves her food. She is so much better with human contact than she was. People would still have to be very gentle and slow near her with no sudden movement but once she's comfortable with you, you will be sure to get a playful happy dog that gives loads of kisses and cuddles.

Ginger and Stacey Wallace

I heard of the Petsitters Ireland Nose of Tralee competition online and decided to enter Ginger because I wanted people to know her story. To know what she had been through and where she is now! I wanted to raise awareness for animal cruelty and let people know that there are so many animals out there suffering like she did. The first round of the competition opened in July. I had to write about Ginger and upload some pictures of her and then get the public to vote. The top three pets from every county in Ireland went through to three judges and they chose which pet represented each county for the final round. Luckily, Ginger was picked to represent Co. Kerry and the final round consisted of just a public vote. No judge's decision was involved.

The final round was pretty stressful but it was great fun. We got a professional photo shoot done for our campaign by Lee Photography based in Tralee along with posters, flyers and media publicity. Ginger became famous overnight. People would stop me in the street for a picture with her. All the corgi groups from the UK, USA and Australia were voting for her on a daily basis. Soap stars such as Michelle Keegan, Charley Webb and Jacqueline Jossa were sharing her voting link on their social media pages. It was phenomenal. By the time the voting closed Ginger had nearly 15,000 votes, 1800 ahead of second place. I was in total shock but knew she deserved every last one of those votes.

Ginger - "Nose of Tralee 2015"

To have Ginger represent the county was amazing but to win the overall competition and be crowned the Nose of Tralee is a dream come true. Ginger is a great ambassador for all rescue animals and she is a proven example of how you can change a dog's life by adopting from a shelter. You can continue to follow Ginger's story by liking her Facebook page. I have also created a blog called The Adventures of Ginger. Follow us to see what Ginger is up to as she hits the ground running with her Nose of Tralee title.

Photos: Lee Photography

From Our Corgi World, Christmas 2015 with kind permission.

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Note: While the "Nose of Tralee" is a pet competition, The Rose of Tralee International Festival is one of Ireland's largest and longest running festivals. The heart of the festival is the selection of the Rose of Tralee which brings young women of Irish descent from around the world to County Kerry, Ireland for a global celebration of Irish culture.