Ask someone to describe their ideal holiday and they'll likely describe a relaxing trip to a sandy beach with fruity cocktails on demand. Tauranga woman Sue Murray has got the beach part down pat, but her upcoming two-week holiday is set to be anything but cruisy - and the former dog trainer can't wait. Journalist Jean Bell sits down with Murray to find out how her vacation will benefit man's best friend.

Most people go on holiday to get away from work. But not Sue Murray.

The Tauranga City Council animal control officer has sacrificed two weeks of annual leave to go on a self-funded trip to the Cook Islands to help the local SPCA care for stray dogs.

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"It would've been nice to go to Europe but I wanted to do something a little different," she says as she holds a wriggly five-month-old catahoula puppy, Felix, who is staying in the pound.

The trip from November 9 to 23 requires her to work at least 20 hours a week helping clean the SPCA's shelter, walking dogs, fleaing, worming, de-sexing, microchipping and helping with the op shop.

But why would someone volunteer their own time and money to spend a holiday working?

Murray has a clear philosophy.

"This will sound a bit corny," she warns before laughing.

"But when it comes down to it, we all want to make a difference, and my way of making a difference is using my expertise and passion for dogs.

"The Cook Islands have very limited resources. It's not like here in New Zealand, where you can just pop down the road to get pet food or worm tablets."

She is calling for the community to rally behind her as she hopes to jet over to the Cook Islands with supplies in tow.


"I'd love to fill my suitcases up and bring over a pallet of dog food to kickstart the SPCA over there," Murray says.

"A worming pill costs less than the price of a cup of coffee."

Can you help? Sue's donations wishlist

Donations can be made at Tauranga Vets, Holistic Vets and Ziwi Pets.

- Gauze
- Benodine
- Iodine/ Chlorhexidine
- Flea/worm treatment
- Dog Shampoo
- Leads - long and short
- Metal water bowls
- Bandaging and basic first aid supplies
- Neotopic/neosoothe
- Antibacterial creams/sprays
- Collars
- Stationery – whiteboard markers, A4 paper, a stapler, cellotape
- Dog treats

People can also contribute via her Givealittle page.