Fearful Former Stray Needs Help To ‘Learn How To Be A Dog’

Written by: Ellyn Kail

March 25, 2016


“He just looks up at me all the time,” says Hempstead Town Animal Shelter staff member Jackie Panjoj of her project dog Baxter. “When we walk, he just keeps checking in with me for reassurance.” Baxter is one of the most fearful dogs she’s ever met, but when he receives even the smallest degree of kindness, he responds by slowly wagging his tail and curling up close to give hugs.


Found as a stray, Baxter was adopted once, and he loved his family deeply. When his human got sick with pneumonia, he refused to leave her side, protecting and watching over her. Unfortunately, Baxter displayed signs of guarding, probably due to the stress of living on the streets, and he was returned to the shelter.


Because of this experience, Baxter is no longer considered adoptable, but he cannot stay at the shelter. He has been traumatized by life in the kennels, and if he stays much longer, Jackie fears he will “lose his mind.”


He spends his days spinning in wild circles and making a sound that cannot be described as barking. Says Jackie: “It’s more like a wailing noise.” Baxter can no longer have a partition in separating his kennel from the rest of his run because he chewed the metal and the plastic until his face bled.


Despite his anxiety, Baxter is a gentle, sweet dog who yearns for affection above all else. When Jackie takes him out for a walk, it’s like the weight of the world falls from his shoulders. More than anything, he craves approval from humans. He wants to be a good boy.


The only reason Baxter goes back inside his kennel after a walk, admits Jackie, is because he wants to please her. He follows her wherever she goes, and he fears being left alone.


Because Baxter simply does not yet have self-confidence to be adopted, his only option is going to live and work with a trainer who can, as Jackie puts it, “teach him how to be a dog.” If Baxter makes it to training, his life will be saved and he will be prepared for a loving forever home, but he needs our help to get there.


Jackie has set up a GoFundMe page to save Baxter’s life and get him into training. Please consider donating here. She and her colleague Melissa Fogarty have also organized a Comedy Night Fundraiser and are selling T-shirts for Baxter. Tickets and shirts are $20 each. Please RSVP here, or pay for you seat or shirt using Melissa’s PayPal. Baxter deserves to heal from his past, to live free from the kind of suffering that no dog should ever have to endure. We can’t save every dog, but we can save Baxter, and for this one special dog, that’s enough.


Featured Image via Hempstead Animal Shelter

Written by: Ellyn Kail

March 25, 2016

Nutritionist-crafted food for your dog's breed or mix.

Get 25% off with code 25FOOD + FREE shipping!



A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.