It’s cold when he gets picked up, and he’s been sick for a while. Some kind of respiratory thing that has slowed his breathing and his reflexes. That’s why the car seemed to come out of nowhere – his reactions are sluggish. He should have seen the headlights, but he didn’t really know it was there until he felt the fender connect with his back leg.

The pain shot through him like a lightning bolt and streaked up his spine.

He lies by the side of the road trying to breathe through the hurt. He’d had a home just a few days ago, but for some reason, the lady had opened the front door, tossed him out and never opened it again. No matter how much he cried and meowed and clawed at the screen.

He’d gotten so hungry, he figured he had to find food somewhere, so he left. A day or two later, he realized how much trouble he was in.

The car drives away, leaving him by the side of the road. Barely even seems to know there was an impact.

He’s almost face-down in the grass and he knows there’s no way he’ll be able to get up. For the first time, he wonders if this is it. If this will be the end of him.

The second set of headlights approaches much slower and the car stops well before it gets to him.

The noise that the woman makes when she gets out is sad, almost heartbroken.

He hears her whisper, “Oh you poor soul. What is wrong with people? I can’t believe he didn’t even stop.”

She picks him up, as gingerly as she can, but the jostling makes him cry out. It hurts. Worse than anything he’s ever experienced before.

Her car is warm when she lays him delicately on the passenger seat, still cooing to him in a soothing tone.

The next thing he knows, there are people all around him, he’s on a metal table and he hears someone say veterinarian. He can tell the humans are looking him over and they’re careful with his leg, but the pain is immense. His vision blurs.

His instinct – what little he has left – kicks a quick jolt through his system, but he’s far too gone to have a physical response.

By the time he wakes again, his leg is bandaged and the woozy feeling is different this time, like it’s coming from more than just shock and injury. He’s in a cage with a bed, a litter box and food and water, and he’s wrapped in a big pile of clean blankets.

Over the next few days, he gets a better idea of what happened from the people who take care of him – give him fresh water, food and medicine, smile at him, check his bandages and snuggle him when they can. Apparently he’d been brought to the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter by the nice lady in the car and then taken to the vet, where his leg had been amputated.

He heard them say he was lucky, but with each tiny movement in the kennel, pain swirls in his hips and back, and he doesn’t feel that fortunate at all.

Luck is a funny lady, though, and eventually, as the days pass, he begins to know what the humans mean. His body gets better, stronger and he starts to feel good again – and he didn’t think that would ever happen.

He learns to move and walk without a leg and it’s not really that different from having four.

Sure, he hops a little now when he moves, but all things considered, he’s got it pretty good.

Eventually, he’s moved to what’s called the “adoption kennels” and a lot of people feel bad for him and make “Aww” sounds at him. By the time he actually gets adopted, he’s practically forgotten what it’s like to live in a house and have his own toys and a place to run.

This time, in his new home, he’s even allowed on the furniture and in the bed. It’s a novel experience.

His new mom and dad are so incredibly nice. They spend time with him every day for snuggles, and it’s the best he’s ever felt. He purrs and rubs against them, claims them as his own.

It’s a random Tuesday night a few months later – mom and dad are watching “NCIS,” and mom is going on and on about Mark Harmon – when a realization dawns on him. He’s been out of the shelter for a while now, but a voice floats through his memory. One that mentioned the word “lucky.”

At the time he wasn’t sure, but now, as he curls up in his dad’s lap and purrs enough that he knows dad can hear and his mom sighs “Jethro” for what must be the sixth time, he may not have known it then, but he really was lucky. Lucky to be found by a conscientious person. Lucky to be adopted into his loving family.

Lucky to have been helped by the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter.


Jennifer Vanderau is the Publications and Promotions Consultant for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter, 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: 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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