Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2016 – One Hand, One Paw

Name: Tiffany Leesang
From: miami, Florida
Votes: 0

              To be honest, I had always felt like I’ve related more to creatures than to other people – as if there was a connection between myself and them that couldn’t be outwardly understood. Since I was a toddler, I loved creatures of all kinds. I’d beg my parents for a pet of my own to no avail. When the school teachers ask what we want to grow up to be, I’d always exclaim, “Vet!”. I’d go outside petting people’s dogs walking by and coaxing stray cats who, if they came, were stroked incessantly until my allergies caught up to me. Because of these allergies, I chose to endure immunotherapy, consisting of two
brutal shots every single week for an entire year.

             But I have never regretted it. Within that same year, I joined my local animal shelter as a volunteer. And I fell in love with it. It became my second home. Every day I went, I was greeted by my furry friends with barks and meows, wagging tails and rubbing faces, and those adorable faces and slobbery licks.

Since then, I’ve allotted over 400 documented hours. I had also become a foster for any animals that were unable to stay in the shelter itself. I’d finally gotten the pets I’ve always wanted, but now for those who needed it desperately, which made it even more worthwhile. At the shelter, I’d play with the kittens and puppies, bathe and walk them, give aid to new volunteers around the place, and help the veterinarians for treatments like de-ticking or feeding. During special events, I’d assist with adoptions or showcase furry faces in photographs; my greatest satisfaction is when they find their forever homes.

            My biggest challenge was learning how to manage with the employees. Being a volunteer taught me communication, the importance of empathy, and learning how to care for the well-being of our lovable pals. I’ve witness tears of sadness for lost pets, starving animals who were abused or homeless, and the smiles of those who found their new companions. I’ve had arguments with other people, ringworm from sickly rescues, but worst of all, hundreds animals come and go. Yet this is what I look forward to – what I seek to foster in the world – a brighter tomorrow where there won’t be a second home for me anymore. Because there won’t be any animals at the shelter. Because there won’t be anyone left alone on the streets. Because every dog and cat will have a loving home. I seek a world where our pets have something happy to look forward to.

And it starts here, with one paw and one hand. They are lending their paws out for us, and I have reached for them. Yet my hand alone cannot make the entire difference, as much as I may try to. My difference needs to be our difference. My hand needs to have other hands. And then our difference will follow through together for the infinite dog years to come.

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