Andy got a home!
Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter
(9/2016) We have a profound impact on lives at CVAS, both four-legged and two-legged.
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of the day to day stuff here, but truly, in the big picture, we have a real effect on people and animals.
We make connections, that’s what we do – and they’re often lifelong.
We recently had a little Shih Tzu come in to us in absolutely horrible shape. Truly, when we first saw him you could barely tell there was a dog underneath all the mess of hair and bugs and general grossness.
He was black-and-white and was quite tolerant as we cleaned him up.
We named him Raggedy Andy for obvious reasons and later it was shortened to just Andy, but we all remembered how he had come in to us. It turns out once we got all the mess off of him, we discovered his eye was infected to the point where it couldn’t be saved. With the help of our Second Chance Fund, we had it removed.
We also think he couldn’t hear very well either (possibly it was just selective, as Shih Tzus are wont to be, but he could sleep through just about every noise, so there may have been some physical reason for it as well).
We have no idea what happened to this little guy – someone found him wandering the street.
It took him a while to recover, but he most certainly did. He has the funniest personality. He snorts like a Shih Tzu (for those of you who are aware of the breed) and of course, he snores.
He would bark when he was hungry. He would bark when he needed to go outside. He would bark when he wanted up in someone’s lap.
It’s possible we may have spoiled Andy. More than a little bit. It was kind of hard not to – he really stole your heart. He lived in our executive director’s office and became the noisy little shadow of a lot of people. You just had to be careful when approaching him because he couldn’t see out of the one side of his face.
Well at the end of July, we got invited to an offsite event and I took Andy along. Despite being spoiled, he actually worked out very well when we went places. He liked to meet people (when he was introduced properly and could see them coming) and he would often lie in your arms like a baby and snort his pleasure.
Shih Tzus, man. They’re the best.
Well, at this offsite, we met a little girl named Audrey and her mom. Audrey immediately took a shine to Andy. Andy wasn’t terribly rambunctious or really all that big and he was super easy to walk on a leash.
Audrey went everywhere with the little squirt. She even went so far as to make a bed for him and it wasn’t long before the telltale, "Mom can we get him?" began.
Audrey swore up one side and down the other that she would take great care of Andy. She said he would sleep in her bed and she would help with the feeding and she would just love him forever.
At one point I’m fairly certain I heard the characteristically drawn out pleeeeeeease?
At the end of the event, mom walked up to me and said they were actually seriously interested in Andy. I have to admit, I was super happy as well as somewhat surprised. A lot of these events have kids that consistently beg mom or dad to adopt whatever animal came along on that day (sometimes tears are involved) and it’s not all that often that the
family is in a position to adopt.
I have a feeling Andy just tugged on the heartstrings of everyone there that day.
So the week after the event, it became official. Andy went home to the family we met there that day and has been doing quite well adjusting to his new life. Andy has two four-legged siblings – one bulldog and one Persian – and while both of them want in the worst way to be friends with Andy, Andy wasn’t really having it.
The Persian, believe it or not, will share a bed with Andy and sometimes lie down on top of him! Can you imagine?
And Audrey – true to her word – has been helping to take care of Andy and he’s been sleeping in bed with her at night. The photos they’ve sent along are the kind that just make your heart swell. It’s so great to have photographic evidence of what we do.
Audrey’s dad – who wasn’t too sure the house needed three animals – has become fast friends with Andy. The two will sit together and share "guy time" each day.
Working at a shelter can be incredibly tough and taxing. There are days when you don’t realize how much of a toll it’s taking until the exhaustion just won’t let go and you have to sit down for a bit.
Andy taught us all something in a remarkably short time. At CVAS, we have a lot of stories. Stories of how animals come into the shelter. Some of them not so good.
When I talk to people, I focus on the "how they got here" because sometimes it’s important for people to know that, but Andy really made me realize you can’t get bogged down in that.
Andy’s story isn’t his past; his story is about his future. And thanks to the help of a lot of people, Andy’s future is quite bright.
Almost since I first started here, I’ve told people, you have to see the glass as half full. If you always see the empty part, you won’t last long.
And the fullness comes from stories like Andy’s. It helps us remember that for all the bad days, we have a whole lot of good that’s out there because of what we do and what our supporters help us do.
So when you’re feeling down, think of Andy and how at 7 years old, he hit a little bump in his journey, but now he’s the king of his castle and know that in every life, when things get dark, there is always – ALWAYS – hope.
Jennifer Vanderau is the Director of Communications for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter in Chambersburg, Pa., and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at (717) 263-5791 or visit the website www.cvas-pets.org.
Read other articles by Jennifer Vanderau