When Othello was surrendered more than a year ago to the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter in Long Island, volunteer Niall Harkins says, “His whole life was shattered.”

Othello had a beloved family, but when one member became seriously ill, they decided they could no longer have a dog. When they drove away on that terrible day, the bewildered dog refused to move from the spot where their car had been.

He stayed there, frozen, staring out in case they came back.

adoptable dog

Image © Cynthia Raven / Hempstead Town Animal Shelter

That searching look in Othello’s eyes never faded, even now, after spending about half of his life without a home.

When Niall walks through the kennels, all the dogs jump around and bark. Except Othello. Othello just sits there, watching. “It’s like he’s waiting patiently for someone to come by,” Niall explains.

Perhaps because of the heartbreak of being abandoned, Othello forms intense bonds with people who show him kindness. He won’t even play fetch in the play yard because he’s too afraid of being far away from his friends.

Niall will always remember the time he came back from a vacation and visited Othello at the shelter. “It was like he hadn’t seen me in years,” he says with a laugh, “He literally hugged me and stayed there for ten minutes in my arms, his paws wrapped around my neck.”

Of all the dogs with whom Niall has worked, he calls Othello “the most loving.” During two separate conversations with two volunteers (Niall, and a volunteer named Katie), both told PupJournal the same remarkable story:

Like all volunteers at Hempstead Town Animal Shelter, Niall and Katie have at one point tripped and fallen down on the walking trail. In both cases — months apart — Othello did the same thing: he rushed over to them, furrowed his brow in concern, and rested his head on their laps until they were able to get back up. When they did, he kissed their faces.

“You’ll always feel safe with Othello,” Niall stresses, “He’ll protect you. He’d give his life for you.”

adoptable shelter dog

Image © Cynthia Raven / Hempstead Town Animal Shelter

Niall can’t adopt Othello because he already has a house full of animals, but he admits that this dog has changed his life forever. Othello had to say goodbye to the only home he ever had, but his ability to trust once more has affected Niall to his core.

“Othello has taught me that people, for the most part, are good. He’s taught me how to trust,” Niall says, “He’s taught me not to lose faith.”

adopt shelter dog

Image © Cynthia Raven / Hempstead Town Animal Shelter

Working in a shelter requires a great deal of time spent teaching dogs how to walk on a leash and follow commands. This time, it was the dog who taught the human.

“I know this sounds silly,” he continues, “but every time I put him back in his kennel, I kiss him on the top of his head, and I say, ‘Thank you, Othello.’”

adoptable dog

Image © Cynthia Raven / Hempstead Town Animal Shelter

Whoever does adopt Othello will forever have what Niall calls “a special bond.” Othello’s love is a promise that can’t be broken.

Othello is waiting for a home at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter in Long Island, New York. If you are interested in Othello, please reach out via the Help Find Othello a Home Facebook page or contact the shelter at (516) 785-5220 or animalinfo@tohmail.org.

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