Volunteer of the Month - August 2023 - Karen Mason
Posted by Victoria Leedham
How fortunate we were to be contacted by Karen Mason, from Devon, back in 2018. Her introduction read like a dream, and Karen has proved to be every bit the wonderful human being you’d think from this resume:
“I recently took early retirement and now have the time to offer to have a dog. Whilst growing up, we had a dog, so I have had some experience of caring and training a puppy. I now would like to expand my volunteering skills. I am an Ambassador for Rowcroft Hospice, raising funds for those with life limiting illnesses, the interaction I have with the staff and volunteers has enriched my life and I now have the time and desire to do more in the volunteering sector.”
Five years later and Karen is one of our most well-liked and well-respected volunteer dog trainers, specialising in Labradors and having welcomed Kipper, Grace, Chester, Pluto and current trainee MJ into her home with husband Stephen.
Fellow volunteer, Katie George, says: “Karen is a remarkable individual with infectious enthusiasm! Her contribution to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People extends far beyond her dog training skills; she has a great sense of humour which brings joy and laughter to those around her.
“She is a valuable volunteer in our South West hub and, within the group, Karen has earned the reputation of being a social media queen. Through her posts and updates she keeps us all informed about the adventures of her trainee dogs. These heartwarming stories provide a glimpse into the experiences both Karen and her dogs embark upon, from conquering new challenges to achieving the milestones necessary for the puppies to become working assistance dogs.
“Additionally, Karen plays a pivotal role in organising social walks for our group, and moreover Karen’s extensive knowledge of the best places to get a good cuppa and indulge in some delicious cake adds an extra touch of enjoyment to such gatherings!”
Matt Sadler, Social Media Manager, is appreciative of Karen’s online presence: “Karen takes amazing photos and videos that help to show what our dogs are learning, and they are always such happy posts.
“Some of her Instagram videos have had thousands of views, so they really help to spread awareness of Hearing Dogs. I’m spoilt for choice when looking for content to share about MJ, as was the case with Pluto before her.”
Joining any organisation can be daunting, so we’re incredibly grateful to volunteers like Karen who extend a warm welcome to newcomers. Mary Gay recalls: “I met Karen through Hearing Dogs when I became a volunteer shortly before the first Covid lockdown. She is so good at including people, contacting them, arranging walks and making time to meet up.
“Karen is such a fabulous ambassador for the Charity, championing the work it does for deaf people through its dogs and other services. We recently supported the Pets at Home Summer Fundraiser by visiting a couple of stores together to say thank you to their staff and customers. This on top of the stores she already visited, in other towns, as part of MJ’s training.
“MJ is Karen’s her fifth trainee and I know she feels she has learnt so much from each dog, as well as enjoying the companionship and support of the South West group herself.
“Karen likes to share her love of dogs and especially the wonderful job they can do in supporting us humans. She is great at helping others in a very positive and easy way that makes you feel good about what you have achieved - I know she has done this for many in the group.
“When the Lockdowns lifted, Karen was there (as much as was allowed) to help the puppy I had at the time, Hugo, learn how to mix with other dogs, something that had been impossible for a time.
I was very grateful for this support and assistance considering he was my first Hearing Dogs puppy and I wanted to do a good job with him. Karen’s kindness and contribution to the Hearing Dog community are truly invaluable.”
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