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Pets Large & Small

The trouble with Tribbles

Jennifer Vanderau
Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter

(10/2016) Iíve recently discovered a wonderful channel on television called MeTV. Now, it will certainly show my age, but they have programs from my childhood and it never ceases to fill me with a warm, wonderful nostalgia.

Sci-fi Saturday on MeTV is one of my favorites. Thereís Star Trek, the Original Series, and they even have Wonder Woman starring Linda Carter (who is still crazy attractive if you ask me) and I canít help but sing that theme song every time I hear it.

(True confession: I actually downloaded the song from iTunes, but thatís a revelation for another day.)

So, Star Trek is a show just full of nostalgia and the beeps and colors of the bridge of the Enterprise never fail to take me right back to my childhood.

My pop is a Trekkie of old. Heís always been a big fan of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the crew. During summertime lunches when we were young, heíd make us test his Star Trek knowledge by reading questions from a quiz book. He did surprisingly well and still, to this day, can come up with episode titles relatively quickly.

And he wonders where my TV obsession originated. Real head-scratcher, there, pop.

We still will sometimes go around the table and see if we can name all the episodes that are a question (Who Mourns for Adonais?, What are Little Girls Made of? and the like).

Needless to say our dinners are certainly exciting. Well, they would be if you are one of the guys from the Big Bang Theory, anyway.

Well, MeTV shows Star Trek every Saturday at 9 p.m. I must confess (and I donít think itís the nostalgia talking), I really enjoy Mr. Spock. I just think heís so incredibly cool. Heís always so unruffled under pressure and comes off with his trademark, "Fascinating." Love him.

One of the episodes I really remember is "The Trouble with Tribbles." Itís actually a humorous piece that centers on these balls of fluff known as Tribbles. It quite literally looked like the prop department bought cheap rolls of fur and fashioned them into balls. OK, the special effects are somewhat painfully dated in the age of block buster special effects movies like Transformers, but what can I say? I still think itís a fun show.

So Lieutenant Uhura brings a Tribble onto the ship as a pet. Turns out that apparently, according to Dr. McCoy, "These things are born pregnant." Soon, the Enterprise is simply overrun with Tribbles.

Despite the fact that this is a science fiction show, the similarities between these little balls of fluff and actual animals is quite amazing. Go with me for a minute on this one.

First of all, it sure seems like these Tribbles could use a good trap, neuter, release program. Sometimes with the cat population, it can seem like they are "born pregnant" like the Tribbles. In fact, one female and one male cat in ten years time can make literally millions of offspring. Itís quite easy to get overrun with cats, just like Tribbles.

At the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter, we have more than 230 cats in our care at the moment, so we definitely know what itís like. If you or anyone you know would be interested in adopting a feline, now is definitely the time to stop out.

We work hard to help all the cats and kittens we can. In fact, we have cats where we shouldnít have cats Ė the grooming room, the treatment room, the back offices, even the dog kennels! No joke!

This is a rough time of year for cats Ė yes, even October Ė and especially with the warmer weather weíve been having. The cat couples are out having lots of fun instead of focusing on keeping warm. If you are feeding stray cats, please, please make sure they are spayed and neutered to help control the population.

Speaking of cats, when the Tribbles are happy, they emit a soft trilling sound Ė very similar to the purr of a cat. One of the funny parts in the show was when Spock summarized that the sound is pleasing to humans and can create a sense of peace and contentment Ė and we discover that he, himself (even being half Vulcan), is not immune to their charms.

Studies have shown that animals can reduce stress in their owners. Whether itís the rumble of your cat purring in your ear, seeing your dog wag his tail for you, or stroking your petís fur, the problems in your life can ease for a moment by spending time with an animal.

It turns out these little Tribbles are also quite perceptive Ė just like our canine friends. Tribbles really canít stand Klingons, who are the reputed "bad guys" on the show after all. No wonder the little bundles of fur donít enjoy them.

And Iíve discovered in my travels that dogs can be very intuitive when it comes to the basic nature of people. Sometimes a dogís sixth sense can act as a barometer. I will never forget the day I had a black lab from the shelter at pet therapy. She was super sweet and just loved everyone she met.

That is, until we turned a corner. As we walked down the hall, a man whom I had never seen before and havenít seen since was coming down the other side. That dog hit the ground and absolutely cowered behind me despite the fact that the man didnít say a word to her.

In my mind, I couldnít help but wonder what she sensed in that stranger that I didnít know. Definitely reminded me of the Tribblesí instinctive reaction to a Klingon.

Fascinating (thank you, Mr. Spock) what an evening of channel surfing can bring about, isnít it? How many other times in your life do you find life reminding us of the value and importance of our four-legged friends?


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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