If you walk through the kennels at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter, you’ll see one dog doesn’t have a bed. This isn’t because of neglect; it’s because this dog is afraid of beds. He sleeps on a towel on the floor. There’s something special about this dog. This is Biggie.
Volunteer Marcia Berrios will never forget the day Biggie was surrendered by his owner. On August 6th, 2015, a man pulled into the driveway and brought out a white dog with black spots. He had tears in his eyes.
The owner told Marcia the dog’s name was Biggie. He had always been a good boy, but the man could no longer keep him. He asked her to hold onto his leash as he filled out the paperwork.
Once he signed everything, the man knelt down to say goodbye, held his hand out, and whispered to Biggie,
“Give me some skin.”
Biggie enthusiastically gave him his paw and smiled. He was confused and didn’t understand what was happening. The man stared right at Marcia and asked her to make sure nothing bad ever happened to Biggie. Then he drove away.
Marcia looked down at Biggie and made a promise right then and there: she would be his friend and stick by him until he found a home, no matter what.
All dogs are stressed inside the shelter environment, but the first few days were almost unbearable for Biggie. When Marcia arrived at the shelter later that week, she found a different dog than the one she remembered. The outgoing, happy-go-lucky dog sat trembling in the back of his kennel, his head bowed in fear.
Marcia didn’t give up, and after a few visits, Biggie finally approached her.
Over the last year, she’s taught him everything in the book: sit, stay, down, paw, other paw. He has finally learned how to enjoy life again, and his favorite thing in the world is a good game of fetch.
Biggie makes Marcia laugh every day with what she calls his “goofy, puppy-like antics.” She adds, “That is part of his charm.”
He also “gives the best kisses” and “really knows how to make a person feel loved.” When he’s thirsty on walks, he even presses his nose into her water bottle to ask for a sip.
He’s overcome a lot.
“I’m so proud of him,” Marcia explains, “This is hard stuff for him.”
Biggie has been brave, but the one thing he’s still afraid of today is, of course, his bed. That’s the one final fear Marcia knows she can’t fix. In order to learn how to enjoy beds, Biggie needs a home where he feels safe enough to sleep.
“I hope he can sleep in someone’s bed,” Marcia says, emotion creeping into her voice.
There’s one tree on the path at the shelter where all the volunteers can write down the names of the dogs who have been adopted.
“I hope, someday soon, I will be able to write Biggie’s name along with the others,” she tells PupJournal. “I made a promise to that dog. I promised I would take care of him.”
If you think you might be the person for Biggie, please contact the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter at (516) 785-5220 or . Biggie is highly housetrained and friendly with other dogs.
Header image © Cynthia Raven / Hempstead Town Animal Shelter