After A Year In Shelter, One Terrified Dog Is Just Learning How To Wag Her Tail

After A Year In Shelter, One Terrified Dog Is Just Learning How To Wag Her Tail

“If you were to walk into the shelter and ask me which dog needs to go home the most,” says Hempstead Town Animal Shelter volunteer John Esposito, “I would take you to Brenda.”


The Long Island shelter is filled to maximum capacity with well over one hundred dogs in desperate need of families, but Brenda might be the saddest one. When people walk through the kennels, most dogs will rush to the front and bark, but Brenda stays curled tightly in a tiny ball on her bed.


Brenda arrived at the shelter more than a year ago as a stray, and she was quite fearful of her surroundings. The anxiety has caused her to become quite thin, though the shelter is working hard to put weight on her. One volunteer describes her as “a quiet little lamb,” timid and kind.


For a long time, Brenda was too frightened to walk very far, and only recently have the volunteers been able to coax her down the path where they take all the dogs. She’s so gentle she won’t even chase the nearby ducks, choosing instead just to watch them drift past, lost somewhere in her own thoughts.


With every step she’s taken, the shelter volunteers have seen in Brenda a special kind of magic lingering just below the surface.

When someone approaches to take Brenda out, the bashful dog gives her a look that suggests she’s not quite sure she deserves to be loved: “It’s like she’s saying, ‘Really, me? You’re going to pick me?’” explains one volunteer.


Over the past few months, they have seen Brenda open up one day at a time. When she sees her friends, her tail begins to wag ever so slightly. It’s a little wag but a wag nonetheless. On the trails, out in nature, the corners of the little girl’s mouth inch towards an uncertain smile. There’s an aura about her, something one volunteer calls a “tranquil, soothing energy.”


There was one day the volunteers will never forget. They decided to take Brenda into a private room inside the shelter, where she had tennis balls and toys waiting. Brenda could not believe her luck, and something lit up behind her thoughtful, curious eyes. She played and played until the time came for her to go back inside her cage. “This day she was truly happy,” says a volunteer.


That poignant moment in time gave everyone a rare glimpse into who Brenda could be if someone gave her a chance. Someday, if Brenda finds a family of her own, she will learn to wag her tail with abandon. Perhaps she’ll always have that timid look in her eyes—the one that says “Who, me?”—but there’s someone out there for her, someone to say “Yes, you. I picked you!” every time she feels afraid.

“Brenda could bring somebody lots of joy,” adds a volunteer, “She’s the kind of dog to just sit by your side and stay there.”


If you think you might be the person for Brenda, please reach out via the Find Brenda a Forever Home Facebook page or contact the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter at (516) 785-5220 or via email at [email protected] For the perfect home, the shelter would consider transportation.


Special thanks to Cynthia Raven, Sharyn Glowatz, Romy Stumpf Martin, Julie Ferrigno, and John Esposito, all of whom contributed to this story.

Featured image via Hempstead Town Animal Shelter