Sometimes, you really gotta work for it.

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Cats, man.

I don’t really know where I’d be without them.

I live in an apartment that only allows cats — no dogs. It’s probably a good thing or else I have a feeling I’d have quite a circus.

I’ve been around cats all my life. Growing up, my sister knew the genealogy of just about every cat we ever had — which kittens went to which mom and who was related to whom.

I think my sister might have cat DNA. The jury’s still out on that one.

The really interesting thing…


How one dog finds real love.

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I wonder why I wasn’t enough.

That was the thought that went through my head every night as I laid in my kennel, listening to the other dogs around me.

If you’d asked me before that, I would have told you everything was great. I had a home, a place to sleep and people who loved me.

Or so I thought.

I tried so hard. I really did. I thought I was being good.

Sometimes I would make messes on the floor, but that was only when I was left alone for so long…


How one dog impacted a lot of lives.

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She first meets Charlie on a cold day in November. She’s making an early morning sweep of the dog kennels and finds him huddled in the corner of number twenty-six.

He’s new. Must have arrived overnight. She stands for a minute until he looks up at her. His brown eyes meet hers and she knows how scared he is, how lonely, how unsure. She whispers a quiet, “Hi, sweetheart,” before moving on to get breakfast ready for the canines in the kennels.

Charlie’s kind of a tough nut to crack. He’s a…


He was quite an influential little Cairn terrier.

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It’s likely an occupational hazard that when I see an animal in a movie or show, I pay rather close attention.

I had the opportunity over the holidays to catch The Wizard of Oz, the award-winning movie produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer based on the children’s book by L. Frank Baum.

Gotta say, the witch still scares me just like she did when I was a kid. *shivers*

But this time, Old Miss Gulch’s proclamation that Toto should be destroyed really got my dander up.

I may have said, out loud to my television…


Pitties are some of the most sensitive dogs I’ve met.

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Pitbulls really get a bad rap.

From the national headlines about dog fighting to the random stories about attacks on people, pitbulls don’t always come out on the cute and cuddly side of the dog world.

I had a volunteer years ago at the shelter who wouldn’t have anything to do with pitbulls. Seriously. No matter the personality of the dog, she wanted nothing to do with them. She held a steadfast belief that all pitbulls were mean.

On another occasion I took a pitbull puppy to a local business…


Keep an open mind and you could find your best friend.

Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash

A few years ago, I watched a visitor to the animal shelter where I work walk up to a dog’s kennel, leash him up, and within three steps command him to sit.

The poor dog was given, no joke, only three steps toward being able to run and get some fresh air before the woman demanded he perform for her.

She actually said (while the dog was basically dancing in place), “Why won’t you sit? You’re not a very good dog.”

I tried to explain to her that he…


How one dog learned to believe again

Photo by Daniele Franchi on Unsplash

When he’s placed into the kennel and the cage door shuts behind him, he barely blinks. He’s got a blanket, he’s warm, food shows up shortly thereafter, so he can’t really complain.

Heck, compared to what he’s used to, this is the equivalent of some place humans call the Hilton. From what he’s heard, it’s a very nice hotel or something. All things considered, this shelter he ended up in isn’t all that bad.

He gobbles down the food — first he’s had in a few days. If he hadn’t been picked up…


It’s a powerful connection.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I put this letter in our local newspaper a few years ago.

After it ran, I got a message from a woman who said the day she had to take her beloved, older dog to the vet to be euthanized, she came home, collected the mail and paper, and sat down in an empty house.

Her eyes must have been burning from all the crying she had done.

Something made her pick up the newspaper.

This is what she found:

Dear Mom and Dad,

I wanted to take a minute to tell you how much you…


It’s too much.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

Maybe it’s time. To quit.

People quit all the time, right? Move on to a new job, say goodbye to a partner. Sell a house, escape to another city.

And in some instances, it’s easy and better for you in the long run. Get away. Try to forget about it. Take your life down a different track. Sometimes, that’s healthy. Sometimes for your own sanity, you just have to stop and move on.

And a surprising number of people say “I quit” at animal shelters. The turnover rate for employees at SPCAs and shelters across the country…


Gratitude for the animal shelter workers.

Photo by karim_manjra on unsplash.com

There are so many instances when good people do really great work and don’t always get the recognition for it.

I’m reminded of the scene in Titanic where Leo and Kate are running through the boiler room and you see those hard-working guys in front of the coal engines, all grungy and sweaty and looking pretty worn out, shovels full of coal, just doing their job.

When you think about it, in those days, no one would have crossed the Atlantic without those guys. I don’t care if the luxury liner had three tennis…

Jennifer Vanderau

Animal-lover, mind wanderer, extroverted introvert. Director of Communications at Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter, Chambersburg, Pa. www.jennyvwrites.com

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