“Olivia is the forgotten dog,” says Hempstead Town Animal Shelter volunteer Danielle Guzzardo of the 2-year-old brindle pup found abandoned in the basement of an empty house. She had been tied up with her brother when her onetime family moved out of state. She was discovered by the neighbors.
Olivia was terrified when she arrived at the Long Island shelter. On evening walks, Danielle brings a flashlight, but when she switched it on during a stroll with Olivia, she was dismayed to see the pup back away from it in fear. The light, meant to guide her way, was too frightening for the confused and bewildered dog.
Olivia’s brother was less anxious than she was, and he helped her to adjust to shelter life. She was comforted by his presence on walks, but when he was taken into a foster home, Olivia found herself alone for the second time. Although she’s happy for the brother, Danielle can tell Olivia misses him.
In her young life, Olivia has never known what it means to feel safe. Nothing is known of her history, but it’s clear her previous owners were not kind to her. “I’m better off not knowing,” admits Danielle, who is focused not on Olivia’s traumatic past but her future.
That future seemed within reach when Olivia was adopted last May. Finally, Danielle saw a happy life in store for Olivia. Three days later and more confused than ever, the dog was returned to the shelter. The adopter was unable to give a reason other than that Olivia was “too big.”
Danielle’s heart broke for Olivia, who now more than ever felt “forgotten.” Olivia’s defining characteristic is her yearning for approval; she is in tune with her human handlers and constantly trying to prove herself.
When she gets excited and a little rowdy in the play yard, and Danielle says her name firmly, Olivia immediately sits down and stares up at her friend, as if to say, “Did I do something wrong?” Perhaps as a consequence of having been left behind multiple times, she tries hard not to “mess up.” She often puts her paw in Danielle’s lap, just to check in and make sure she’s alright.
Olivia is not, says Danielle, a “cookie cutter dog.” She’s special. Despite having been failed time and again by those who were meant to care for her, Olivia loves life and has a joyful streak that can’t be contained. She has a mischievous look in her eye, and a smile that screams: “Come play with me!” She can chase a rope toy until the cows come home. When she sees Danielle approaching her cage, the little nub where a tail once was goes wild.
Featured image via Cynthia Raven / Hempstead Town Animal Shelter