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Pets Large & Small

Paying it forward one four-legged friend at a time

Jennifer Vanderau
Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter


In the cold, cold month of December, I was brought to the Adams County SPCA with my baby, Mandy. Luckily she was adopted pretty quickly but I am still waiting for someone to notice me. My name is Maxine and I am a very slender and petite young lady that is still a bit on the shy side. I love to play and I can get along well with most other cats. I am also sweet and affectionate with people, so I just don't understand why I keep being passed over. I am dreaming every night of the day when my new family takes me to my forever home!!

To adopt Maxine visit the Adams County SPCA/Meyers Animal Shelter, 11 Goldenville Rd, Gettysburg, PA., or visit or call 717-334-8876

(4/2014) I've been noticing recently how easy it is to get caught up in the minutiae of every day life and how quickly that can drag you down.

I'm starting to think Murphy's Law "if something can go wrong, it will," is far more insightful than I may have given it credit in the past. I seem to end up behind folks who have no idea how to drive; at the grocery store, if I'm in the line, it's pretty much guaranteed to move at a snail's pace; and I usually find myself in ear shot of some of the most barbaric comments.

Don't know how it happens, but there I am.

It's easy to get buried in the negativity, to feel bombarded by all those moments in life when things don't go exactly as planned.

Some days it feels like we're always rushing to get somewhere else and we seem to be almost hyper aware of what's wrong with the world that it doesn’t allow us to take the time to realize what's right.

The concept of paying it forward is so important, especially when life gets you down. I truly believe the only way to battle a negative experience is with a positive moment. Give someone even a second of joy and it could change their entire mood, resulting in them doing the same for someone else.

Luckily, I work at the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and in a lot of respects, we pay it forward sometimes on a daily basis.

And we do it one four-legged friend at a time.

The happy endings we make really bring the point home.

We had a family who had been without a dog for three years because it took them that long to be ready for another pup. They found an adorable little puppy who is exactly what they were looking for and they couldn't be happier.

We had a little Pomeranian who has brought life back to an elderly gentleman and put a big smile on his face. The two are inseparable -- he doesn't go anywhere without her and she stays right by his side.

One couple actually took the dog they adopted from us -- a pitbull, no less! -- along with them on their honeymoon. They specifically looked for a place that would let them bring her along. That's how much they adore her.

Another elderly couple who adopted a ridiculously cute beagle thanks us profusely every time we talk to them.

A few years ago, a couple came in looking for a cat, but the wife became quite enamored with two brothers. The husband didn't want two cats, but after talking with him for a bit, we convinced him to try it. When they called in to tell us about their sibling felines, the husband admitted it was the best thing he'd ever done -- he adores those cats.

We've adopted animals out to nursing homes and the amount of happy that comes from those stories is pretty much off the charts. So many times we'll hear how a resident responds to the in-home cat or dog before he or she will even talk to a human.

Another woman told us it was the pup she adopted from us that got her through her mother's passing.

We hear comments, "he saved my life," and "I don't remember what my life was like without her" all the time.

But paying it forward isn't limited to the adoptions -- because the adoptions wouldn't be possible without our supporters.

When someone donates a bag of kitten food that helps us feed a litter of cats, that's a link in the chain that leads to the adoption and the moments of joy cats can bring to their owners.

When someone donates money to care for a pup until he can find a forever home, that's a step on the staircase that leads to smiles and happiness.

When volunteers come out to walk dogs, making them more sociable and adoptable, that helps them find the homes where they can make a difference in a person's life.

We have a bunch of people at CVAS who help pay it forward every day, whether they know they're doing it or not.

It's an interesting concept in that often times, we don't know or get to see the results of our actions. A lot of times paying it forward isn't something for which we receive concrete proof of what we've done.

There's a saying here that's so appropriate: a good deed is its own reward. In this fast-paced world of instantaneous gratification, it's often difficult to remember that some of the nicest things we can do for people will never have a result we get to witness.

We do it because it's right. We do it because we should be kind. We do it because putting good out into the universe is never a bad thing.

If you would like to be a cog on the wheel of a whole lot of happiness, talk up the animals at CVAS to anyone you know who might be looking; donate whatever you're able to help the animals in our kennels; stop by if you're in the area and see if one of these furry faces doesn't grab your heart.

Help the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter pay it forward in one of the most rewarding ways: with the gift of an animal's love.


Jennifer Vanderau is the Director of Communications for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter in Chambersburg, Pa., and can be reached at The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at (717) 263-5791 or visit the website

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