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Pets Large & Small

Warmth all the way to your soul

Jennifer Vanderau
Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter

(4/2015) I must confess something. Both of my parents are holding their breath right now (heh), but I must assure them and you that itís nothing terribly shocking or headline worthy.

I think as I age I become more and more sentimental. Is that possible? I tear up at the drop of a hat. Just about anything can get me going.

The passing of Leonard Nimoy a few weeks ago had me welling up at my computer screen, reading all the comments about how he inspired a generation of students to become scientists. It helped (more than a lot) that my dad is a Trekkie of old and would show my siblings and me all the episodes when we were growing up. Weíd even have quizzes at the lunch table, no joke. Star Trek for me will always be a source of nostalgia and to lose someone from that franchise is always hard.

There are certain episodes of Modern Family that I absolutely canít watch without tissues. When Haley goes to college? Ugh. Bawling. Every time. Any time Jay treats Manny like a son when his own father doesnít. Gone. Iím just gone.

Just the other night I caught The Untold Story of the Sound of Music. Oh. My. Word. The crew went to Austria, where the movie was filmed and we actually saw Julie Andrews now walk down the aisle of the church, just like she did in the movie 50 years ago. They split the screen to show both moments. She also apparently had a short-lived show called the Julie Andrews Hour where she sang Edelweiss with the real Maria Von Trapp. I cannot tell you what that did to me. I was sniffling the rest of the night.

Donít even get me started on the holiday cartoon specials. When the Grinchís heart grows, or Charlie Brownís sad little tree is fully decorated? Itís crazy.

Working at an animal shelter certainly adds to the poignant moments in my life.

Just recently we had a senior dog show up in our outside kennels. Someone had dropped her off overnight with no information. She had gray around the eyes and nose and before we even checked her teeth, we knew she was older. We noticed she had a protrusion on her right, front leg. We assumed it was likely cancer.

My guess is someone didnít want to (or was unable to) face the decisions that had to be made and instead left her in an outside kennel overnight.

We were thinking that she was 8. Turns out the vet said sheís closer to 12. We named her Sophia (the people hadnít provided us her name) and worried a lot about her. We opted to take a chance and remove the lump on her leg and pray that someone would open his or her heart to a senior (very senior) dog.

Iím telling you, that girlís face was a real heartbreaker. And every day I saw it in a kennel, Iíd get a clench in my chest even more.

The news that started up the water works for me was the day she got adopted. A real sweet couple came in and looked beyond her graying fur and slow gait and saw the amazing spirit beneath and decided to take a chance on her.

They said sheís a real cuddlebug and is so good with their cats. The wife said she hadnít intended to adopt an older pup, but her heart had other plans.

We are all so happy that our girl Sophia didnít have to spend a whole lot of time in a kennel.

Then, oh my word, last week I went into cat adoption to take a photo of our Pet of the Week, a black kitten (growing up the shelter) named Fiddy. This boy was just too much. He didnít want to get his photo taken. Oh no. Instead, he wanted to climb all over me.

Now, keep in mind, when I say climb, I donít think I ever once felt that catís claws at all (and heís got them) and he did more head-butting and purring than any real ascension. A sweeter feline youíd be hard-pressed to find, let me tell you.

I had to get a video for our Facebook page to show people how amazing Fiddy is. Once heís in your arms, heís difficult to put back down because he literally doesnít want to go. I swear, he would cling to me to continue holding him.

So vastly different from my brats at home who seem to have the attitude of, "Mom, didnít we just cuddle this morning?" which is teamed with the leg kicks to get away. Sigh.

When Fiddy had his nose against mine and just rubbed all along my cheek, there went my heart, yet again.

Fiddy got adopted today and I gave him a kiss goodbye and wished him well in his new life. Itís sad that I wonít get to feel that nose against mine anymore, but Iím glad that heíll have a place to run and play and snuggle.

Itís easy to fall for the four-legged babies at CVAS and weíve got a lot of them looking for homes.

So if youíre like me and have or are developing a sentimental streak, how about visiting the animal shelter for an afternoon and seeing how many of our pets steal your heart?

Iím betting there will be more willful giving than any real thievery going on Ė and youíll walk away with the biggest smile on your face and a warmth all the way to your soul.


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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