Editor’s note: We’re happy to report that Ruby has been adopted! There are many more dogs hoping to find homes, too. Check out these adoptable pups here

Ruby was surrendered to the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter in Long Island when she was ten years old. She was so heartsick, volunteers had to reach into her crate to coax her outside for walks.

The key, volunteer Liz Kavadlo Seymour learned, was patience. And hot dogs. With time, she was able to walk further and further down the path and away from her crate. Ruby started to get what’s known around the shelter as “the pep in her step.”

Related: ‘Most Loving Dog Ever’ Teaches Shelter Volunteer How to Trust

When Ruby runs and plays in the play yard, all the other volunteers cry, “Wow! Look at her!” When she’s with someone she loves, Ruby turns into a puppy. She rolls around on her back. She also enjoys games of fetch and tug with volunteer Andrea Zizzo.

Liz’s favorite memory of Ruby is the time she stuck her face right into the hose to cool off on a hot day. It was the first time since she lost her family that Ruby looked truly content.

It’s difficult for Liz to talk about this particular dog without getting choked up. Ruby is always good about going back into her crate, but she does sometimes give a little bark of protest when the volunteers say goodbye.

Recently, someone donated a large stuffed penguin to the shelter, and the staff decided to give it to Ruby because she, unlike many dogs, won’t destroy her toys. Liz says Ruby thinks the penguin is her best friend. She sits in her crate and rests her head on it when she’s lonely.

“I just feel really bad about what happened to her,” Liz explains with tears in her voice, “She’s here after all that time. She’s doing the best she can.”

Ruby teaches everyone who meets her about the value of living in the moment. Her whole life was turned upside down, and she seems to treasure every happy moment as it comes. “You can go for a walk with Ruby and talk things over,” volunteer John Esposito says, “ she kind of reminds you to slow down.”

Related: This Heartbroken Shelter Dog Never Gave Up And Now He’s Home

Ruby’s favorite place to hang out, especially in the cold weather, is the meet and greet room, where she can stiff around and explore. It’s bittersweet seeing her in there because in her many months at the shelter, no one has ever asked to have a meet-and-greet with Ruby.

When John tucks Ruby into her crate for the night, he makes a point of saying, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Ruby might not understand the words, but she understands their meaning: don’t give up, sweet dog.

Liz has a tee-shirt that always makes her think of Ruby. It has pictures of rescue dogs on it, along with the words, “Don’t judge us by our past. Help us find our future.” Even though she lost her family of many years, Ruby no longer grieves. She’ll look forward to tomorrow and to the next day and the next, until at last someone comes to bring her home.

Ruby would like to be in an adult-only home with no other pets. If you are interested in adopting Ruby, please reach out via the Facebook page she shares with two other senior dogs at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter. You can also contact the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter at (516) 785-5220 or animalinfo@tohmail.org. Follow the shelter itself on Facebook.

Header images via The Golden Girls of TOHAS