What did you dream of being when you were a kid? I mostly dreamed of…well, just being a kid. I didn’t look much beyond what outfit to put on my Barbie next or what horse book I would read. Unless it was to remember what time the next episode of Tarzan the cartoon or Mary Tyler Moore was on.
I fell off a bike and broke my arm the summer after third grade. This resulted in the neighbor lady from two doors down getting me a book about being a nurse. I pondered what it would be like to be a nurse but that’s as far as it went. I was too busy being a kid to spend time on such ideas.
I fell into my first jobs. I babysat the two youngest kids that lived next door, Marc and Janelle. That was fun because although they were quite a bit younger than me, I enjoyed playing with them sometimes anyway. I just stayed up later than them and was old enough to call for help if it was ever needed. I’m sure the fact that my mom was always next door was a big factor.
My second job was from the same neighbors. Their three boys each had a paper route. They were also in a variety of sports-basketball, wrestling, football, baseball. Our town’s newspaper was published as an evening edition, so the stacks of papers were dropped off for delivery in the afternoon. This interfered with the sports which were all after school. So, I started delivering the papers for whichever boy was currently enrolled in a sport. When their entire family went on vacation, which luckily was only once a year in the summer, I would deliver all three paper routes. This covered most of our small town. With the boys being in that many sports, I was delivering at least one route a good portion of the year. I remember one or two days during the winter of The Blizzard of 1978 when their mom took pity on me and took me around in her car to deliver the papers.
When it was time to sign up for college, I felt the need to pick an actual career so I would know what to study. I don’t think it came as a surprise to anyone that I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian. Vying for second place were forest ranger and zookeeper. But being a vet stood way out in front.
My last job before I started my professional career was at a pet store. I worked at Pet Kingdom during a college summer and over breaks. I loved that job! It was a small store so only one person worked each shift and I got to do everything. Dusting and rotating stock wasn’t so great, but dealing with the fish, small animals, and birds was right up my alley. We also sold puppies and kittens, but most of them were given to the store by local people who had accidental litters and needed to find homes for them. One of the perks of the job, at least in my mind, was that I could come to work early and walk the puppies.
To my knowledge, the store only ever had one litter of two purebred puppies for sale. They were supplied by a lady who lived in a nearby town. These turned out to be Shetland Sheepdogs. One of the puppies sold. The other did not. Our area was not wealthy, and the price of the mixes was a better fit with the local economics. The second puppy was set to be sent back to the breeder.
Anyone who knows me, knows where this story is going. That was my first sheltie, Bream. (Pronounced Bree-Um) Bream went off to college with me and many adventures thereafter. He saw me through a couple failed classes, several moves, marriage, and divorce. He was my rock. He cemented by love for the sheltie breed. More on this in a future tale.
My career? I never did end up becoming a veterinarian. There were only 17 veterinary schools in the United States at the time, so the competition was fierce. I experienced this in the classes I had with pre-med students and there are a lot more med schools around than vet schools. I remember asking a pre-med student in one of my classes if I could copy his notes from a class that I had missed because I was sick. He said no.
I couldn’t really decide what else I wanted to be. Zookeepers barely made any money and were all located in major cities. I wasn’t aware of many forest ranger or conservationist positions at the time. So, I settled for majoring in Biology. It was a general science with a wider range of options.
After graduating college, I hung out with my live-in boyfriend, and worked at Sea World of Ohio for a brief time. I was only tagging merchandise and cleaning for the park’s season opening. The best part of the job was at lunch time, I could go into the viewing area and watch the penguins in their exhibit or wander by the beluga whale tanks and touch them if they swam near. My best friend Becky worked there too, so I could see her before and after our shifts.
I had only worked at Sea World a few weeks when the opportunity for my first career-related job came along. I occasionally stopped by Kent State main campus and checked the job postings in the recruiter office. This was before such things were computerized. There was an opening in my county for a laboratory technician in a water/wastewater laboratory. I applied and soon interviewed with my future bosses and soon-to-be friends, Bill and Howard. Thus began my career in the field of water treatment. I just sort of fell into it. It suited me well. The department was composed of a small number of people who were close and hung out and helped each other outside of working hours, as well as during. It was an opportunity to help the environment and I ended up working that job and retiring from it after 32 1/2 years. I found it rewarding and feel I served a purpose.
Would I choose the same career again if given the choice? Actually, no. I should have stayed the course and tried to become a veterinarian. I never lost that love of animals. I did eventually find an outlet for that love. After taking in a number of animals, I realized I could not save them all on my own. So, I got into animal rescue work. I volunteered for a number of groups over the years before finally founding Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue. It takes a village as they say, and I found my village.
I do use my career choices to encourage young people to pursue the careers of their dreams. The working years are many. Follow your passion!