A Tralee pet-owner, Caroline Fitzgerald, is appealing for the public to get behind her and her beloved three-year-old Border Collie named Rocco as he bids to bring the Nose of Tralee title back home to Kerry.
The popular competition – which is run by Pet Sitters Ireland – is now into its ninth year and is one that celebrates the huge love that pet owners in the 32 counties of Ireland have for their pets.
Rocco, a rescue dog who was found wandering the streets of Tralee by Caroline – from Oakpark – and her daughter Shannon two years ago, has beaten out hundreds of other entries to be chosen as the Kerry representative and Caroline is now hoping that with the support of the Kerry community, he can finish the job and win it all.
"He was about one-and-half, we think, when we found him. He was following a neighbour who was walking her own dog at the time. She was going out onto the Oakpark road which can be quite a busy road. Myself and my daughter, Shannon, we were passing her [the neighbour] and we said that we would take him [Rocco] in while she went away home and we would try to find his owner. He was in perfect shape, he looked clean and healthy and he's just a stunning dog,” she said.
"We looked everywhere. We put him on all the lost and found sites on Facebook and what have you but we got no leads at all.” she continued.
Although initially hesitant to take in Rocco as their own pet, Caroline said that the longer he stayed with their family, the more they grew to love him.
"My daughter, straight away, she said 'oh we're keeping him' but I was very hesitant. I didn't want the responsibility of another dog. My own dog had only died a number of years ago and my cat was actually dying at the same time - he only lasted two months after we got Rocco - so I was kind of feeling done with having animals and trying to look after them and the hurt when they go," she said.
"The longer we had him though, it was harder and harder to say goodbye. He won us over," Caroline continued.
After coming across the Nose of Tralee competition online, Caroline knew that Rocco would be perfect for it.
"I had actually entered my cat into it [the Nose of Tralee] a couple of years ago but he didn't make it. It happens every year - this is its ninth year running - and I saw that it was coming up again soon so I said 'you know what, I'll enter Rocco into it.' He's perfect for it," she said.
Voting in the final is now open so if you want to vote for Rocco, click on the following link, find Rocco and follow the instructions.
You can vote once a day up until the closing date of September 22 at https://www.petsittersireland.com/vote-nose/ and you can follow Rocco on his Facebook page at 'Rocco B from Kerry’ here: https://www.facebook.com/RoccoB05/?ref=page_internal