Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2016 – Holding Paws

Name: Summer Hetherton
From: Mount Dora, FL
Grade: 11
School: Mount Dora High School
Votes: 3


Summer Hetherton

Forward Scholarship

November 30, 2016

Holding Paws

I have always had such a passion for animals, especially dogs. They
possess many qualities that even many humans lack. Children my age
wanted to be astronauts or famous actors. I, on the other hand,
wanted to open an animal shelter. I wanted to improve the lives of
the unwanted animals by making sure they felt the love that they
deserved. As soon as I was of age, I started volunteering at our
local animal shelter. This volunteering position has provided
challenges, but has provided me with more internal satisfaction than
I could have ever hoped for and has helped me learn about our beloved
furry friends.

Once I turned eighteen, I started volunteering about nine to ten hours a
week. If I was not working or cheerleading, then I was at the animal
shelter. My responsibilities consist of walking, training, and
bathing the dogs. I love to see the excited look in their eyes once
they start playing. They are genuinely excited for your company and
some sign of affection other than the bowl of food that ends up in
his/her cage at night. This might create world peace, but if in that
moment I have improved the dog’s life just for the day, then I am
satisfied. I have grown so close to many of the animals. Alabama was
my absolute favorite. It broke my heart when I was told that someone
adopted her and brought her back, so I was persistent on finding her
a loving home. She loved when I gave her baths and a good belly rub.
She was recently adopted and this news brought tears to my eyes. It
reminded me why I love my volunteer position so much.

My volunteer position is so rewarding, but has come with challenges.
Our shelter has many abused dogs. One owner cut off a dog’s ears
with kitchen scissors. How could one person be such a monster? This
challenge has inspired me to advocate for better animal abuse laws to
be put into place in the future. It has also been very hard to resist
the urge to adopt every dog. Sadly, all I can do is spread the word
and hope that they will see what I see in these lovable animals.

This experience has taught me so much about our furry friends. I have
learned that no dog is alike. Copper loves to run and play catch
while all Bailey wants to do is cuddle. I have learned the patience
it takes to train an animal and how easy it is to make an animal feel
loved. Not only has this experience taught me so much about dogs, it
has taught me so much about myself. Since childhood, I have been very
unsure about my future career. After this experience, I have realized
that being a veterinarian is my dream. I also have been inspired to
become a future foster home for abused dogs.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".