Name: Zoe Pugh
From: Boone, North Carolina
Grade: High School Senior
School: Appalachian State University
of the first classes I was enrolled in at Appalachian State
University was called “Our Appalachian Community” a class
that focused on helping students engage in their new hometown. The
wonderful professor for this course challenged her students to go
into the community and just start asking people if they needed help;
whether it be helping someone with their groceries, or giving time to
a volunteer organization. Through that challenge I found myself
giving 6 hours as a general volunteer to The Watauga Humane Society.
Spending time as a general volunteer meant that I could be walking
dogs, cuddling cats, or rounding rabbits at the drop of a hat.
most challenging part of volunteering at the Humane Society was
learning to speak the language of the animals I was around. Some
animals have never had that “forever home” experience,
others have but still managed to find their way back to the shelter,
and other animals were rescued from a not-so-forever-home. I was
assigned to walk dogs, and I was sad to hear that there were some
dogs I was not allowed to walk because of their aggressive nature.
After spending time walking the dogs I could, I asked to sit outside
the pens of the dogs I couldn’t. I started at a pretty far distance
from the cages, and slowly got closer until I was sitting arm’s
length away, careful not to move fast or make loud noises.
was at that time that I found the most satisfaction because I
discovered something. I found humanity sitting across from a dog who
might not have ever had anyone take the time to sit beside them and
just be. After spending time with a particular pooch named Moby, I
found myself crying at how I could have been missing something that
seems so simple for so long. In those moments of rare silence among
the dogs that I was warned wouldn’t stop barking as long as they had
voices, I discovered the power of quietly sitting with someone when
they are having a rough time.
This experience is not only in
line with my interests and career goals, but it has also transformed
them. Since volunteering at The Watauga Humane Society, I have made
strides towards becoming a more mindful and helpful person. Moby
taught me more about what I could become than any human ever could,
and because of moments like that, I am majoring in subjects that will
help me stand up and speak out for marginalized communities. Those
with paws, and those without. My activities at the Humane Society are
not only forward-looking but are also future shaping. I have become
committed to training in communication and dialogue so that I can
continue gaining perspective and evolving as a person. With any hope,
I will foster change in the way that we speak to each other. From
that, we might be able to find new solutions to troubles that face
our world as a whole.