On June 14, 2013, the shelter took in a stray dog. She was a scrawny, young, petite American Staffordshire Terrier mix with gorgeous hazel colored eyes. We named her Hazel for that reason. Hazel was roughly six months old when she came to the shelter. She was shy and skinny and unsure of her surroundings. Here are her first photos:
Hazel began to get comfortable with the people who work at the shelter, including myself, even though I only saw her once a week. I’d take her out for new photos and some playtime. She quickly proved herself to be a very playful, happy dog.
In the first few months that Hazel was at the shelter, she tested well with dogs, cats, and kids. She passed all of her evaluations. She was quiet in her cage and a very sweet, well-behaved dog, who we thought would be a quick adoption. Being a young dog who gets along with everyone, it shouldn’t have been hard to get her adopted. But, for some reason, everyone passed her by. No one showed any interest in her. More and more time went by as she waited in her cage.
Over time, her personality changed little by little. By the time she was there a year, she had changed her mind about dogs and cats, something that can easily happen after such a long time of not being able to socialize enough with other animals. By the time she was there for two years, she started to guard her bones, something that happens often when a dog is in a shelter setting. They try to protect the only thing of value they have. It makes perfect sense really, but because of that, she needs a home with older children who know not to bother her when she is eating or chewing on a bone. She had gone from an “easy adoption” to a “difficult adoption.” These difficult adoption dogs are great dogs. Don’t let the term fool you. She is a wonderful dog, who is still sweet as can be, loves to cuddle and give kisses, and lives for playtime in the yard. She is still friendly with every person she meets, including kids. She just needs a very specific type of home now.
A few months ago, we thought we had found that special home for her. A couple came in and met with her, fell in love, filled out the application, got approved and decided to take her home that same day. Everyone at the shelter and all the volunteers were celebrating, crying happy tears. Her day had finally come…
In only four days, they called saying they didn’t want her anymore. We were all instantly filled with disappointment. We were all heartbroken, some of us enraged – myself included. I’ll be the first to admit, I handled that news horribly. But, it was warranted. A dog that I had worked with for almost three years, a dog I knew, a dog I helped train, a dog I vouched for, was coming back because the people who promised to help her, gave up and lost patience on her in only four days. No dog adjusts to a new home in less than a week’s time, especially not one who has basically spent its entire life in a cage. This was probably Hazel’s first real home – her first yard, her first couch or bed or kitchen, her first chance at a real life. And after four days, they took that away from her. I was devastated.
After a fit of screaming and slew of profanity, in time I calmed down and walked to her cage. When I saw that face looking up at me as if to say “what did I do wrong,” I lost it. I’m losing it right now thinking about it. The tears were streaming down my face. I felt so hopeless, like I had personally failed her. I think we all felt that way. But, we accepted the situation and moved on and have been trying to find her the right home ever since.
Today Hazel is celebrating her 1000th day in the shelter. 1000 days in a cage.
This dog deserves so much more than just a cage. She’s sweet and smart and eager to please. Hazel knows her commands thanks to the volunteers working with her every week. She is a master at Sit, Down, Come and Stay. She also walks beautifully on a leash. She is always eager to work for food. Hazel has actually been used for training demos and has shown off to crowds of people.
Hazel is beautifully behaved for her baths. In fact, she really enjoys them.
Hazel has spent way too many holidays at the shelter, and celebrates in style. She lets us dress her up with ease.
Hazel loves meeting new people and loves presents. Around Christmas time she got a visit from Valerie who donated a blanket to each shelter animal. Hazel was more than happy to try them out and say thank you.
She has been a staff and volunteer favorite from the start, and continues to be.
Hazel is now just a little more than three years old. After 1000 days in a cage, she is more than eager to find her forever family. Hazel is spayed, mirco-chipped and up to date on her shots. Her adoption fee is paid for by Live.Love.Bark and she goes home with a bed, bag of food, toys, treats, a collar and leash, and local pet professionals have offered free dog walks and help with continuing her training.
If you’re interested in adopting Hazel please visit her in person at Islip Animal Shelter and Adopt-a-Pet Center at 210 South Denver Ave. in Bay Shore, NY. Can’t adopt but interested in fostering her? Contact Live.Love.Bark at firstname.lastname@example.org.