On August 8th, 2016, Thelma the dog had her two-year anniversary at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter in Long Island, making her the single longest resident. Volunteer Jennifer Salvietti never planned to go to the shelter that day, but when it finally arrived, she knew she couldn’t let Thelma spend it alone.

sophie gamand adoptable dog

Image © Sophie Gamand

Of course, Thelma didn’t know this day was any more painful than the rest; for her, all of the 744 days in the shelter have blurred together. But when Jennifer took her out to play fetch, the volunteer did allow herself to a few tears when Thelma turned her back to chase the ball.

town of hempstead animal shelter

Image © Cynthia Raven / A Home for Thelma

Thelma never once has stopped in the midst of a game of fetch, but as much as Jennifer tried to hide it, the little red dog knew something was wrong. As she was running back for another throw, she stopped. She approached Jennifer slowly, then licked her face gently and leaned her entire body into hers.

It was like she was saying, “I don’t know why you’re crying, but don’t cry for me.”

Related: This Heartbroken Shelter Dog Never Gave Up And Now He’s Home
flower power adoptable dog

Image © Sophie Gamand

Someone recently told me that the difference between dogs and humans is that dogs “always hope for the best, even when they’re experiencing the worst.” Thelma is living, breathing proof of that.

“There’s something about her,” Jennifer says. “You just can’t put your finger on it.”

adoptable dog thelma

Image © Cynthia Raven / A Home for Thelma

When a friend approaches her cage, Thelma gets excited and wags — sometimes even jumps a little — but she sits down quickly, because she never wants to disobey or disappoint.