Walking through the kennels at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter, you might notice all but one of the dogs rushing to the front of their kennels. There’s one who stays back, staring at the wall. He’s confused, and he seems out of place. This is Buster Brown.
The bashful Buster Brown lived the first six or seven years of his life tethered outdoors, with very little human contact. He weathered the brutal Long Island winters and the scorching summer months with no shelter, save for the little dog house where he slept. Because Buster Brown flinches and cries out when he’s approached with sudden movements, it’s likely that he was beaten for much of his life.
When he first arrived, Buster Brown was afraid to come out of his kennel, and volunteer Julie Ferrigno sat beside him, coaxing him out with treats. Over the past six months or so, she and other volunteers have worked with Buster Brown, teaching him not to cower when touched. He’s learned that human hands can be tender and not cruel. Although he averted his eyes in fear when he first arrived at the shelter, he now peers longingly into the eyes of his friends, searching for a kind word or treat.
Volunteer Sharyn Glowatz calls Buster Brown “the saddest dog at the shelter,” before adding poignantly that Buster Brown would never consider himself to be sad. The sorrow of his past is writ large across his face, but for Buster Brown, even the smallest sign of compassion is enough to brighten the entire world.
Buster Brown spent years without any gentleness and love, and he doesn’t quite understand that he is deserving of happiness. Even though he has a nice plush bed donated by a volunteer, it’s not uncommon to see him laying on the concrete floor at the opposite end of the cage. As volunteer Romy Stumpf Martin reports, Buster Brown is bewildered by toys and bones, not quite sure that they’re for him.
Recently, Buster Brown has made great strides. He trusts volunteers enough to go on walks and has even plopped his head right into Glowatz’s lap, as if to say “I love you” and “thank you.” That one gesture meant more to her than a thousand kisses from a happy-go-lucky puppy. When he sees her and other volunteers, “his little nub tail” wags back and forth.
At Buster Brown’s innermost core, says Martin, “There’s a dog willing to accept love.” Even after all the bitterness he’s endured, he is a sensitive soul, always considerate to those around him. And he’s started to show signs of wanting to join in on the fun side of life.
Sitting beside Glowatz near the play yard, Buster Brown now quietly looks over at the other dogs, happy and playing outside. It’s hard to tell what he’s thinking, but perhaps he’s imagining the day he feels safe enough to be like them.
Buster Brown needs a home with people who are as loving and faithful as he is and who are willing to show him that from this point forward that he will never be left alone in the cold again. Says Glowatz, “If you are patient with him, you may be lucky enough like me one day, to have him rest his big noggin on your knee and close his eyes.”
If you are interested in adopting Buster Brown, please contact the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter at (516) 785-5220 or via email at [email protected] or reach out via Facebook at A Home for Buster Brown, where you can follow and share his story.