Diana loves being a dog. She loves rolling in the grass, zooming in the snow, and chasing balls. Sadly, Diana has never truly had the chance to live the life of a normal dog.

She was found alone on the streets of Long Island in the summer of 2015, and she’s been at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter ever since.

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Not one single person has ever asked to meet her. She feels invisible.

Volunteer Bonnie Zarillo remembers vividly the first time she met the little tan and white dog. She held her hand out, and Diana sniffed it. Surprisingly, the former stray knew the word “sit,” and the instant Bonnie said it, she plopped right down. She obeyed all of her commands, grateful for the companionship.

The happiest moment Diana has ever had is probably when she and Bonnie walked three miles to the end of a nearby creek and rested at a bridge. Most of the shelter dogs won’t walk that far, but Diana followed the volunteer the entire way.

For those few minutes, Diana forgot the shelter. She got to be the dog she was always meant to be. A huge smile broke out across her face.

“She was just ecstatic to be in a different place,” Bonnie said, “She put her butt way up in the air. She knew it was special. It was our place.”

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Living in a shelter is difficult for Diana, especially with all the noise. She had a difficult time sleeping in her kennel, and at one point, she was found collapsed inside. She had to be rushed to the vet, and he determined the incident was caused by anxiety and stress rather than anything physical.

For Diana’s health and wellbeing, the shelter staff recently relocated her into an office, where she can interact with people a bit more. She shares the office with staff member Caprice Ambroise, who always brings in apples for them to eat together. Diana likes to sit between Caprice’s legs and lick her hands.

Everyone who knows Diana, from the staff to the volunteers, mentions her puppyish grin. When I asked Caprice what made Diana special, she responded with a laugh, “Her smiling face!” Then, more seriously: “She should be someone’s dog. She is going to make someone very happy.

Bonnie reads to Diana when she can. They’ve read all sorts of books together. The sweet dog sits and listens to the sound of her friend’s voice, and it gives her comfort.

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Every week, Bonnie and Diana have another ritual. They sit down together and wish for a home.

These days, even the night guard at the shelter sometimes stops to visit Diana. She unlatches the crate, lays down a blanket, and just sits there with her for a while.

All Diana wants, Bonnie says, is someone to pat her on the head and tell her everything will be alright. The volunteer keeps a picture of Diana on her refrigerator, and it will stay there until Diana finds a home.

If you are interested in adopting Diana, please contact the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter at (516) 785-5220 or animalinfo@tohmail.org. You can also reach out via her Facebook page. Find her details here, and follow the shelter itself on Facebook.

Header image via Cynthia Raven / Hempstead Town Animal Shelter