When Disney Princess arrived at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter in Long Island, the staff tried to take a pretty picture that would get her adopted, but she was too scared. Everyone did their best to get her to smile for her intake photo, but she just stared up at them, eyes wide and trusting.
Two-year-old Disney Princess was so afraid, in fact, that she panicked when she was put inside her cage. She jumped off the walls and spun around so much her paws started bleeding. She also came in with a bad knee injury, requiring surgery. In addition to being terrified and alone, Disney Princess was in a lot of pain. She recovered all by herself, confused and without a lap in which to rest her tired head.
Disney Princess after surgery
I have written about many dogs. Most have a special person—either a volunteer or staff member—who loves them dearly. While they might not have homes, they each have at least one best friend. When I asked whom I should interview about Disney Princess, something strange happened. I pressed one staff member to to tell me who Princess’s best friend was, and she replied sadly, “No one really.”
I asked again, just to make sure, and I got the same answer: “No, she’s just happy with anyone who takes her out.” In that moment, something welled up in the back of my throat.
Disney Princess doesn’t quite have a best friend because she cannot live in the kennels with the other dogs. She spends her whole life in a crate in the back hallway, away from all the noise and stress of the general population. While this is the only safe spot for Disney Princess to be without doing further damage to her leg, this also means that she’s probably the loneliest of all the 120-plus dogs in the shelter.
In fact, when volunteer Sharyn Glowatz first started walking Disney Princess, she was introduced to her as “the dog nobody walks.” She didn’t even know who Princess was. These days, Princess can call Sharyn and a few other volunteers her friends, but she still feels unbearably lonesome. When Sharyn takes the petite dog out, people stop her to say, “Who is that? I’ve never seen that dog here before.”
Here’s a secret nobody tells you: the loneliest dogs are very often the ones with the most love to give. “Princess doesn’t ask for much,” Sharyn says. “She doesn’t like jolly balls like the other dogs. She doesn’t need toys. She just wants to sit close.” She craves the warmth of a human body, and while all the other dogs run and play, Disney Princess just sidles up beside anyone who gives her the time of day.
She doesn’t even like to be in the play yard because she thinks she might be left there by herself, like she is in her crate. “She climbs the sides trying to get out,” explains Sharyn, who now just sits next to Disney Princess, walking her, petting her and enjoying the breeze on hot summer days.
Sharyn gives her gentle squeezes to reassure her she’s safe, but Princess doesn’t believe her just yet. When people go into the shelter to find a furry friend, they don’t see Princess because she’s all the way in the back. Instead, she listens to their feet shuffling outside the door, just a few feet away. Then she hears them pass.
Someday Disney Princess hopes someone kind and gentle opens that door to see her sleeping in the corner. She’ll open up her blurry eyes, squint, and wag her tail ever so slightly. Maybe, when she meets the person she’s meant to be with, Princess will remember how to smile.
A rare photo of Disney Princess smiling
If you think you might be that person, please reach out via the Disney Princess: The Forgotten Dog Facebook page or contact the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter at (516) 785-5220 or via email at [email protected] Princess would prefer to be in a home without other dogs. For the perfect home, the shelter would consider transportation.
Featured image via Disney Princess: The Forgotten Dog/Facebook