SNIFF NOTES: Animals Provide Love and Devotion


A few years ago when my friend was expecting her first child, we had a conversation that has stayed with me all this time.

We were having lunch and this woman is an avid animal-lover and a great supporter of the shelter.

I remember talking to her about what it’s like to have a baby and she was both excited and absolutely petrified. At nine months, she was a pretty adorable mother-to-be. Having never had children myself – and the ship has pretty much sailed on that one – I asked if she was nervous about the whole thing. 

Having never had children myself, I cannot imagine the feeling of inevitability that being an expectant mother brings. I mean, once the show starts, that train’s leaving the station whether you want to be on it or not, if you know what I mean.

Her answer to my question still rings in my mind from time to time.

She was planning a home birth and told me, “This is going to sound crazy, but as long as my dog’s with me, I’ll be fine.”

My heart actually clenched a little at her words. What an amazing sentiment to have.

She found her pup after he’d been abandoned along the side of the road, about seven years ago. He had siblings and she found homes for them, but her guy stayed with her.

He has been her constant companion – he even goes to work with her. He’s a stable source of support in her life and believe it or not, I know what she means.

When I go home from work every night, I know my cats will be there. Yes, typically I have to investigate what they may or may not have gotten into throughout the course of the day to clean up whatever mess may have resulted, but they are a presence in my home and with two of them, I know that they will actually come seek me out at some point in time to greet me.

It makes life a little less lonely.

My friend had a bit of a rough time – her history doesn’t include a whole lot of happy stories. She and her daughter are doing incredibly well now, but it took some time to get there. As it does for all of us.

She told me that her dog gave her the gift of love and that he taught her it was okay and safe to love something.

We were both pretty misty-eyed, sitting at that table together, and we may have looked ridiculous, but I wouldn’t have changed the topic of conversation for the world.

First, it’s awesome to spend time with like-minded people who have similar reactions to aspects of life – and when said person is a fellow animal-lover and truly understands the amazing value and worth pets can bring to our lives, well, that makes the whole experience even richer.

Second, with all the drudgery and upset that happens in the world, why not embrace feel-good moments, even if they make us a little weepy?

And finally, as cheesy and Hallmark-sounding as this is going to be, I really welcome the chance to hear stories of absolute, unconditional love (sometimes because they seem so few and far between) – and where better to find that than with animals?

Loving an animal is the one time in this life that you are almost guaranteed to get that love returned, sometimes tenfold.

The devotion and abject loyalty animals show us are often some of the truest, most authentic moments in this world.

And that’s something I’m going to search out – even if it leaves me crying in public.

Jennifer Vanderau is the Publications and Promotions Consultant for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and can be reached at [email protected] The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at 263-5791 or visit the website CVAS also operates a thrift store in Chambersburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the store.

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