Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


Pets Large & Small

"Winter blues"

Jennifer Vanderau
Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter

(2/2016) I think I get the post-holiday blahs. The days are so short and the cold is definitely here and as much as the hustle and bustle is…well, a hustle and bustle…it definitely provides a goal and something to look forward to.

January is not my favorite month of the year, that’s for sure.

Although I may have discovered a way to combat the winter blues.

There have been moments over the last few weeks where I’ve found myself smiling, quite wide.

We had three Jack Russell Terrier mixes come into the shelter before Christmas – all sisters – and they have traveled with me to various places in the county. We’ve gone to fundraisers at local businesses as well as pet therapy to nursing homes.

It’s gotten to the point where they know me when I walk through the kennels.

The other day one of the sisters – the last one to be adopted – was spending some time hanging out with the girls in the front office and I walked up. Oh, she jumped up from her bed so fast and just came running over to me, tail wagging.

I absolutely couldn’t help or stop the grin that came over my face. I immediately bent down to say hello to her and get all kinds of kisses from my girl.

That gave me a little jolt for my seasonal sadness.

Surprisingly enough, even though it’s January, we actually still have kittens at CVAS. Usually in the winter we see the kitten population dwindle a bit – mostly because the cats are more focused on staying warm rather than, um, other pursuits. For some reason, this winter, that’s not the case.

We have two litters of kittens at the moment in our multi-cat playpens at the shelter and spending time with them will lift any spirit.

They are all serious snugglebugs and one black kitten in particular just wants to perch on shoulders. I kid you not, he will climb until he is practically hugging you and just settles in. Even when you put him down to give a kiss to one of his siblings, he somehow manages to search you out and give you that particularly sad cat look and you have to shrug and say, "fine, come up here with your brother."

I swear he’s like the cat that got the canary after that.

Kitten purrs have to be one of the best medicines on the planet to cure whatever ails you.

We also had a litter of puppies come into the shelter a little before Christmas. They were fostered out immediately, but have been returning recently to be spayed and neutered. As is no great surprise, they are all already spoken for, but oh my word, seeing them again really does a heart good.

They’ve grown so much, even in just a few short weeks, and they’ve got that puppy look – with the big brown eyes and the wagging tails and the puppy breath! Spending time watching them play and romp and roll around is enough to lower anyone’s blood pressure.

You wouldn’t believe how different they all look, too. There are a couple that look like black labs and one boy who has the Schnauzer beard and two little girls who look like hound mixes. What an adorable family!

Even my own cats bring me a great deal of pleasure. They all are huddled around the heaters and when I come home I’ll say, "Brrr. It’s too cold out there" and they’ll look at me all snuggly and warm and stretch out for a pet.

My little brat Dee Dee wants to snuggle in the morning as I’m getting ready for work, but I know the bathroom floor is cold on her little feet because she keeps picking one up and then the other (not unlike how I tiptoe on the linoleum). I eventually have to scoop her up and give her some kisses and put her back on the bed. I tell her, "For heaven’s sake, stay in there, you nut."

Every morning when I wake up, she’s usually curled around my legs or stomach or feet, basking in the warmth of me and the covers. It always makes me smile to get some good morning smooches in with my girl.

So as I sat one day pondering how I could shake myself out of my doldrums, I was reminded of all the moments of joy I’ve had recently and I’ve decided that maybe while the cold and snow rip around outside, I should be looking a bit more inward and taking some time to rest and searching out those around me who bring happiness.

If you keep your eyes and heart open, you really can find those times and people and animals that bring sunshine even on the dreariest of days.

Savor them. Cherish them. They are so important in so very many ways.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some kittens to visit for a bit. 


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