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Pets Large & Small

In the moment

Jennifer Vanderau
Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter

(11/2017) I have heard over the years that itís important to live in the moment. One of my favorite lines from Kung Fu Panda is "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift; thatís why it is called the present."

Being present, right now, can be incredibly refreshing. It can also be incredibly difficult.

As human beings, we have minds that seem to constantly run the gamut of what groceries are needed to when the next doctorís appointment is scheduled to what happened years Ė sometimes decades Ė ago.

Sometimes it feels like our minds canít ever really stop that constant spinning and looping it likes to do so much.

I heard a story recently about how a woman lives only in the now. She was asked about how she handles planning everything thatís coming up in the future and the she simply said, "I donít. Iím always right here" and she waved her hand in front of her face.

This is a woman who just jumps. She goes, quite literally, wherever the wind takes her. She makes decisions that for many of us would take months if not years to contemplate in one day. Can you imagine? I mean really?

She basically gives herself to the universe and knows, deep in her gut, that everything will work out how itís supposed to.

I can certainly understand how being present in the moment is quite freeing, but I also recognize how hard it is to maintain.

Interestingly enough, I may have discovered a remarkably easy way to accomplish this, though. As is no great surprise, it has to do with animals.

A few weeks ago I needed a picture of one of our cats in the adoption area. Heís a black-and-white boy with incredibly unique markings aptly named Oreo Cookie. Heís got black splotches around his eyes that make him look like he had some problems with mascara or eye liner, but it really just means he looks pretty cool.

Heís 1-year-old and came into the shelter as a stray. His green eyes seem very knowing, though, so for living only one year on this planet, I know thereís a story in this feline and I so wish I could hear it.

To get the picture I needed, I took him into the bonding room and let him wander for a little. He did the typical big boy stretch, extending his back legs out behind him and spreading his little toes and he glanced around the room.

Eventually he settled on the cat fluffy cat tree we have in the room and tucked his front legs under his chest and looked from the window to the door with every movement or noise. Heís a very intent boy and he didnít miss much.

I can tell that he would absolutely love to have a perch on or near a window. It was almost like a television for him! We have these awesome cat beds that actually attach with suction cups to the window pane. If you havenít seen them yet, check them out Ė theyíre perfect for the feline window watchers.

I had some time, so I just let him get settled and started snapping off some pictures. They turned out pretty well.

Eventually, though, I couldnít help it. I had to go over and get a pet. He saw me coming, let out a little meow and head-butted my hand.

What a sweetheart this guy is! I pulled out some toys for him and he batted them around a little Ė didnít leave his perch on that fluffy cat tree, though. He seemed to prefer the spot. Even when picked up and put on the window sill, he went back to that cat tree every time.

I must have found a toy with some catnip in it, because boy did he go a little nutty with that one! Nothing overly dramatic, mind you, he just rolled and chewed and generally seemed to "enjoy the trip," so to speak.

Oreo Cookie is one cool character and whoever gets him is going to be a very lucky human.

But the thing is as I sat and waited for him to settle in so I could get a picture, I could actually feel myself relax. We have music that plays in the bonding rooms and adoption kennels to soothe our animals and it can also help soothe people as well.

I really think just sitting quietly with that cat, trying to see and hear the world from his perspective, lowered my blood pressure and quieted my mind a bit. I kind of just gave myself over to him and the moment for a little while and man, it was nice.

Iíve experienced similar reactions when I have dogs out at offsite events. Sitting and petting a pup or hanging with a cat really can be a much-needed mental and physical break.

Animals very much living in the moment. Have you ever left your dog for thirty minutes and when you return itís as though youíve been gone for thirty hours? Animals have a little sense of time because of the circadian rhythm of the planet, but for the most part, they are very much in the present.

Taking some time to just sit with a pet and forget about everything you need to do or that has happened or is going to happen can often time be exactly what we require to unplug for a little while.

Animals give us so very much, in so many ways, so if you ever find yourself in need of being in the moment, why not stop by CVAS and hang out with a four-legged friend?

We have bonding rooms and spaces for you to spend time letting a cat be a cat or a dog be a dog.

You never know Ė it might just be the best therapy youíll ever find.

*****

Jennifer Vanderau is the Director of Communications for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter in Chambersburg, Pa., and can be reached at cvasoc@innernet.net. The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at (717) 263-5791 or visit the website www.cvas-pets.org.

Read other articles by Jennifer Vanderau