Emma - Santa Monica, California
Entered on June 16, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe everyone has a purpose–even if it isn’t always obvious.

When I was ten years old I volunteered at Wilshire Animal Hospital in Santa Monica, cleaning cages and walking dogs. It was a quiet Friday afternoon, when the back door ripped open and in came a wave of people carrying a golden retriever. The dog’s eyes were rolled back in his head. He had been hit by a car.

Techs and doctors sprang to life. I was shoved into the corner of the emergency room. The head doc, Dr. L, was shouting instructions. Somehow they got everything he asked for, quickly and efficiently. Before I knew it they were shocking the dog’s heart and hanging fluid bags. All I could do was stare with amazement. After about twenty minutes, the dog’s heart rate fell flat. The owners rushed in, tears streaming down their faces, as they huddled over their dog’s lifeless body.

At that moment, I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian. I didn’t know why the feeling was so strong. The dog had died. What was the veterinarians’ purpose if they had failed?

I didn’t understand until I met Jesse.

Jesse is a horse of mixed breed (Arab and Saddlebred) and an outcast. Most people are scared of him, but I was immediately drawn to him. It was our first show and he was ping-ponging around the warm-up ring with his usual energy. For a split second I let my guard down and fell off, sprawling in the dirt but hanging on to the reins. Jesse took off, dragging me until I let go, and ran frantically around the show grounds – heading right for an open gate to the road.

Everybody panicked, including his owner, who ran after him with a bucket of grain. They were only chasing him closer to the passing cars. I was standing up by this point. I saw him about 100 ft away from me, nostrils flaring, tail high up in the air, eyes wide as could be, totally terrified. I called to him as if I was calling to someone close by and put my hand out, pointing to the ground next to me. I did not move. My voice was calm. He immediately spun around and came galloping toward me. I thought he would fly right by, but he stopped just short of being able to kiss me. Everyone froze. It was kind of a movie moment. I then put my foot in the stirrup climbed on and that was that.

When I think about those veterinarians acting with such professional composure in an emergency, and me keeping my cool and waiting for Jesse to come, I realize our purpose was the same: to provide order and reason in a chaotic situation and therefore potentially save lives. I am far from becoming a vet, but I have been working with animals all my life since that day in the emergency room.

I believe everyone has a purpose, one that they will eventually find, especially if they are lucky enough to have a guide like Jesse.