IN THE DOG HOUSE. Cardinal Hastings cares for Clyde the hound dog by applying his eye medicine. photo/Emily Fussell


She wiggles her key into the door. She turns the handle and glides the door open. As junior Cardinal Hastings steps inside the barking engulfs her. She opens another door and walks into one of the kennel rooms. She greets all of the animals, making sure to pet the howling deaf hound dog Clyde.

Hastings’ childhood dream was working with animals. Currently she works at Chickasaw Trail Animal Hospital as a kennel technician.

“In kindergarten, I wanted to be a veterinarian and being in a field [of what I want to do] as a 17 year old is pretty sweet,” Hastings said.

After exhibiting her passion for working with animals to Dr. Anne Scholl Mealey, Hastings got the job.

“I had been volunteering for three months before [I got the job. I was] nervous because if I made any mistakes it would not be good. I could possibly put an animal’s life in danger. I was nervous but I was stoked,” Hastings said.

According to Hastings, working with animals is completely different from working with humans.

“I’ve always loved animals and working with them is pretty cool because humans can talk to you and animals can’t. It’s all based on knowledge,” Hastings said. “Dogs are never selfish, they love their owners. Animals are unique.”

Learning about animals keeps Hastings intrigued.

“I love watching surgeries. I got to hold like a dog’s stomach to the wall of the dog because its stomach was being tacked. I basically held its stomach while it was still [alive],” Hastings said.

Hastings enjoys her job even on a bad day.

“I haven’t even been working here for a year and I’ve learned so much about animals and the ups and downs, but even if you have a bad day you still love what you’re doing and that’s all that matters,” Hastings said.

Hastings works under Mealey. According to Mealey, her character overlaps with Hastings’s.

“I see a lot of myself in her, her love for animals, her drive to be the best she can be and her willingness to help out in any way she can,” Mealey said. “And although Cardinal is a beautiful girl, she is not “fancy.” She likes to be outdoors, she enjoys sports, she is down to Earth and a very genuine person. I mean that in a very complementary way. She is also smart like I was. You have to make excellent grades especially once you are in [an] undergrad [program] or else you may not be able to get into a veterinary school.”

By working at Chickasaw Trail Animal Hospital, Hastings gains real life experience.

“The position she is in right now as a kennel technician, is preparing her to have patience with animals. She is learning how to restrain them safely without hurting them or herself,” Mealey said. “She is also learning the ins and outs of a large animal hospital. It allows her to make the decision if this is truly the field she wants to pursue as a career.”

Hastings’s job requires her to forego sleeping in over the weekend.

“She shows she’s dedicated to her job by waking up every Sunday morning at 7 to go to the animal hospital,” Kerry Hastings, C.Hastings’ mother, said. “[She shows] dedication to whatever she sets her mind to. She does whatever she needs to do to progress.”

Working at the hospital is not something Hastings takes lightly, so she makes sure to manage her time.

“[Cardinal has] always been very disciplined with her time and knowing that she is working at the animal hospital, she knows she has to prioritize,” K. Hastings said.

C. Hastings goes out of her way to take care of the animals.

“Cardinal’s passion for animals has grown so much since working here. She treats all animals as if they were her own,” Tommi Rivera, the Kennel Manager at Chickasaw Trail Animal Hospital, said. “She shows so much compassion for each animal we receive. A perfect example of her love and passion for animals occurred when a dog was here boarding for a couple of weeks ran out of broiled chicken that was sent with him to mix with his regular diet, Cardinal took it upon herself to buy and broil chicken at home for the pet and brought it to work the next day.”

C. Hastings keeps an open mind when working.

“Cardinal shows that she is dedicated to her job by always arriving to work on time. She has made herself available to cover shifts that she wasn’t scheduled for to help her coworkers out,” Rivera said.  “She follows all rules and regulations and she is always open to new ideas as long as it benefits the animals. She is always willing to give a helping hand wherever it may be needed.”

C. Hastings feels grateful for this opportunity.

“The most rewarding part of my job is being fortunate enough to work at an animal hospital at such a young age,” C. Hastings said.

By Emily Fussell

I'm the Legend yearbook's design editor. I enjoy running and eating nuggets. You'll probably find me wearing Crocs, always in adventure mode, or Chacos, or Birkenstocks. You know how it be.

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