When Buddy hears footsteps coming towards his kennel at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter in Long Island, he pokes his little paws through the space in his door.
“It’s like he’s saying, ‘Get me out of here!’” says staff member Melissa Fogarty, who has worked with the affectionate young dog since he was taken into the shelter last year. Buddy has spent much of his life behind bars, and Melissa can see how hard he’s trying to be a good boy.
Buddy arrived at the shelter when he was less than a year old, found on the streets as a stray. No one knows what his life was like before, but staff members were instantly struck by how fearful he was. He always loved people, but inside his kennel, the barking of the other dogs sent him into a panic, and he kept looking up to make sure someone was watching out for him.
No one ever taught Buddy how to be a dog, and although he is the gentlest of souls, he has been having a harder time than most adjusting to shelter life. When Buddy sees other dogs, he can’t help but let out a startled cry, a sound Melissa says falls somewhere between “a bark and a squeal.”
A trainer has come to the shelter to work one-on-one with Buddy to overcome his fear of other dogs, and she and the staff can see how much he wants to please them. Buddy has made tremendous strides, but he sadly won’t be able to conquer his anxiety while he’s inside the shelter. All of his hard work, suggests Melissa, is undone when he’s put back inside the cage, alone and afraid.
If Buddy goes into foster or is adopted, his trainer believes that she will be able to rehabilitate him completely, probably to the point where he can not only be around but perhaps even live with other dogs.
More than anything, Buddy wants to learn to be the dog everyone knows he can be. It’s apparent in the way he looks to people for reassurance and in the way he plays when he finally feels safe enough to be himself. As Melissa’s colleague Jackie puts it, “Buddy is the definition of hope.”
Melissa knows that inside Buddy is a brave, confident dog just waiting to come out, but it keeps her up at night to think about Buddy and how unsafe he feels in the shelter. “He’s never really sleeping,” she says, explaining that when he starts to drift off, he can be alarmed by even a tiny sound. Buddy is a quick student and a loving, devoted dog, waiting for someone to give him a chance to shine.
If Buddy finds a foster or forever home, his trainer has agreed to continue sessions. For now, he needs a home without other pets or children. If you think you might be able to give Buddy the chance he needs, please contact the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter at (516) 785-5220 or via email at [email protected]
Featured image via Hempstead Town Animal Shelter