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Pets Large & Small

Thank God for those who understand

Jennifer Vanderau
Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter

(1/2015) There’s a concept in Eastern philosophy called yin and yang. It represents the duality of opposites and how you can’t have one without the other. Happy and sad, light and dark, negative and positive.

When you’re experiencing the concept that you deem as "bad," it can be difficult to remember that the opposite does exist and will come around again. In fact, some days it seems downright impossible.

Working at an animal shelter is always tough. We wish so very much every day that we can save every animal that comes through our doors, but the reality of it is, we can’t.

We have some days at CVAS that are really quite awful. Many of us have been known to leave the shelter some nights quite down and defeated.

We’ve had a recent run of difficult times. It feels as though we’re stuck hopelessly in the negative.

But, just like the concept of yin and yang, the positive is out there, just waiting to peek through.

Today, we had a delivery to the shelter of three boxes of pizza for the staff to enjoy. The note attached was anonymous and simply said it was from a supporter.

The coupons arrived recently in the mail. Someone – there’s never a return address on it – collects animal-related coupons for the shelter to help us save money. We have no idea who this is, but this week, the arrival couldn’t have been more opportune.

We’ve had three happy tale follow up letters from adopters. The one lady adopted a Shih Tzu mix who is doing wonderfully. In fact, she stated, "She is a sweet, loving, precious little soul and has filled completely the hole in my heart from losing my ‘Sammy’ – she’s truly a godsend and thank you for allowing me to be her ‘mom.’"

We’ve gotten Christmas cards with donations to help us with our work from people who have adopted from us. In fact, one was signed by the cats!

I got an utterly adorable email from one of our adopted cats, stating how his mother demanded he write a letter of apology.

This is what followed:

"I overheard a conversation about plans to visit the new facility and drop off some items for donation before viewing some Christmas lights with my torturer. They call him Miles, he showed up two years ago without any consultation from me, but I digress.

I later discovered on the pantry room floor a bag of unfamiliar food. I’m currently fed "indoor/weight control" food so imagine my delight at discovering high calorie scrumptious KITTEN food within easy access!! I was left alone and unattended for several minutes and proceeded to revel in the delicious, forbidden delight of high-calorie heaven!! Mama was not pleased when she found my head imbedded in the side of the bag. I was sternly lectured. She went on for quite some time about "those needier than you", and something about my waistline not benefitting from kitten food, and the word "shame" was thrown around.

Whatever, I regret nothing. It was DELICIOUS! So when the bag of kitten food with a hole in the side shows up know that it was me….and I enjoyed every kibble I could get!!


Hephestus Herkimer

(adopted from CVAS 14 years ago and still eating heartily)"

I cannot tell you how great it was to smile as I read that.

So, it’s interesting, this concept of yin and yang. When you’re in the downslope and it feels like all hope is lost, goodness really can and does shine through.

We have bad days at CVAS – sometimes REALLY bad days – but our supporters, and we have to remind ourselves that they’re out there, really do come through for us.

For everyone who sends a smile and good thoughts to CVAS and the employees here, thank you so much and we all wish you the happiest of New Years!


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

Read other articles by Jennifer Vanderau