What started as a school community service project has turned into a true passion for 16-year-old Shira Studley. She’s volunteered well over 50 hours at WCC puppy petting, cleaning kennels, handling administrative work and doing everything in between.
Shira’s high school, Holton-Arms, requires all students to complete a community service project to graduate. The 50 hours have come and gone but, sure enough, every Monday afternoon, Shira can be found at the WCC Healing Quarters completing any task asked of her.
A close family friend, who Shira affectionately refers to as her “uncle,” served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan in the Marine Corps and has since struggled with post-traumatic stress. She says his experience, as well as his commitment to service, are part of what inspired her to donate her time to WCC.
“Volunteering at WCC is the perfect combination of helping Veterans and my love of dogs,” says Shira. “Seeing the bond that’s created between Veterans and these service dogs is absolutely amazing.”
Shira’s classmates volunteer for many other great organizations but she is the only student who gets to work with service dogs in training. Shira learned about the opportunity through a friend who had previously was volunteering to puppy pet and Shira said she knew it was where she wanted to get involved.
“I love WCC’s mission and have always possessed a natural comfort working with animals, especially dogs,” says Shira. “I have always found dogs to be animals that desire companionship and are able to give love. When they receive those things from humans they tend to reciprocate and form a real bond. I think companionship is a huge part of why dogs connect so well with humans, they are such social animals.”
Shira has two dogs of her own and says she has been astounded by the time, practice and patience that goes into all the training.
“I wish I could spend more time with trainers because my dogs could definitely use some lessons,” says Shira. “I have learned that it takes a lot of time and dedication to get a dog ready for this kind of service.”
She’s got a few years to figure it out, but Shira says there’s no doubt she wants to pursue a career that involves working with dogs and other animals.
Thank you, Shira!