SNIFF NOTES: A Season of Gratitude


This is the time of year that for me, because I’m older, has become about gratitude.

Gratitude is a powerful emotion that I think is somewhat easy to overlook.

We see a lot of catch phrases out there today, like “have an attitude of gratitude” or “count your blessings,” but I wonder how much of that can be lip service. It’s something that you truly have to feel and it comes from the heart.

That’s why the holidays are so important. It gives us time to reflect and remember what is good in our lives – and how much we have to be grateful for.

I am incredibly grateful for my family – which has just grown by one new member, my niece! – and will always be happy that our crazy little group is still going strong.

I’m also happy for my friends, those I see and those I don’t. The older I get, it seems it becomes more and more difficult to spend time with those I love. It drives me more than a little bit crazy, but doesn’t diminish what I feel for them.

At CVAS, there are many people and animals for which I am grateful.

Our adopters come in here and fall in love with one of our babies and they are the reason we are able to keep doing what we do. The photos and stories they share with us are able to mend the toughest of days.

Our supporters, who bring us money and supplies for our animals, are another source of gratitude. I know a lot of folks out there can’t adopt right now, but still want to help. They are very generous in making sure we can continue helping more homeless animals.

Our foster parents take animals into their homes to give them some time before they are able to be adopted and that helps us tremendously by opening up space in our kennels for other babies.

I want to thank all those who bring a stray into their home and care for him or her for the rest of his or her life. I’ve talked to people who tell me, oh my cat just came up on my back porch one night, but I got her spayed and take care of her and she’s my best friend.

I only see these folks very rarely because they never come into the shelter. I thank them from the bottom of my heart because they help us by taking care of the strays.

For all the groups – individual and organizations – that are a part of a trap, neuter, release program, I thank you. Spaying and neutering is really the only way to make a difference with the overpopulation in the pet world and many of these folks work tirelessly (and often use their own money) to see that the cats in area neighborhoods are taken care of and can’t produce more cats. That’s always been amazing to me.

I want to thank all the other shelters and rescues out there that are fighting the same battle we face every day. We are soldiers in a war and I know some days are too overwhelming to talk about, but for me personally, it’s good to know you all are out there. I know we could not do this without you.

Our volunteers are a group that I always feel I can’t thank enough. Time is the one commodity we all have that is finite. We are only allotted so much while we’re here. Anyone who gives their time and/or talents to help our animals is a real inspiration to me. So for those who walk dogs, play with cats, help with our fundraisers, sort donations at our thrift store, take care of our cats at Petco or Petsmart, help with spaying and neutering our animals or help with maintenance around the building, I say a resounding thank you.

Our board of directors is another group of unsung heroes in the shelter world that need to be appreciated. These are people who get together to work toward maintaining the longevity of CVAS as an organization and many times are not noticed for their efforts. I am grateful for each and every one of them.

Our staff are dedicated beyond measure. They come in, every day, sometimes in bad weather, to make sure the animals in our kennels have food, water, clean cages and kennels and a little love. They’re the truest of animal-lovers and I’m proud to be in the trenches with them.

The businesses in this community are incredible. I can’t tell you how many businesses help us with a variety of different things and in a variety of different ways. From printers, to the media, to tree services, to municipalities, to veterinarians, to offsite adoption centers – all these groups have given (sometimes completely free of charge) their time, talents and services. And they do it because they know it ultimately helps our animals.

As always, I have to thank the main reason we are here. The babies all the above people and groups really help. Our animals. I’ve met some of the sweetest, purest souls during my 22 years at CVAS and the memories are something I will cherish and keep with me for the rest of my life.

Gratitude is more than just a catch phrase. It’s a deeply powerful emotion that is so important this time of year.

Take a moment during the hustle and bustle to remember how much you have to be thankful for. So much of life really is a gift – and it’s not always something that gets wrapped under a Christmas tree.


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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