“Buster is just such a smart dog,” Cynthia Raven, a volunteer at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter, told PupJournal. “He needs so much more than to spend his life sitting in a cage.”
The shelter is currently overflowing with well over 150 dogs, and this summer has been a hard one. Owner surrenders spike every year as people abandon their dogs to go on vacation, but Buster has been there for more than a year.
Despite the large number of animals living in the shelter, everyone has a story about the little white dog with the pointy ears.
Cynthia remembers one time she took Buster for a walk on a nearby trail and he insisted on going into the woods. She didn’t know what had possessed the petite dog, who usually walks close to her and never strays. A minute into their detour, Buster started digging. Then he popped up holding an old lacrosse ball in his mouth, beaming with pride.
Since that day, Cynthia has developed a special ritual just for Buster. Before she takes him outside, she hides balls along the path. Buster figured the game out quickly and has never failed in finding the ball. When he’s done, he likes to hop up on a bench with his buddy for some pats and kisses.
When summer comes, Buster’s favorite thing is to jump headfirst into the toy chest, look around, and find a favorite teddy bear. “If you try to hand one to him, he doesn’t want it,” one staff member explains. “He wants to pick his own.” Then he’ll carry it to the kiddie pool and plop down in the water.
As much as Buster loves searching for toys, the one thing he desires most is a person to love. He recognizes Cynthia’s voice and the rhythm of her footsteps — so much so that she avoids walking near his kennel until it’s time to take him for a walk. It’s too sad for him to see her pass by or take another dog.
When another one of Buster’s volunteers left for several weeks to have surgery, the dog never forgot him and continued to look for him until he returned. When he did, an excited Buster recognized him immediately and ran towards him to make sure he was okay.
Whenever someone walks by his kennel, Buster peers out at him with eyes that can only be described as hopeful. His intense vulnerability and eagerness to please, Cynthia says, is “something I’ve never seen before.”
Unfortunately, Buster has had no interest from potential adopters in all his time at the shelter, and waiting for that long can take an emotional toll on any dog. It’s painful for Cynthia to see him sitting in a kennel day after day, knowing all he wants in his time on earth is to play with someone.
Dogs don’t live as long as humans do, but dogs like Buster remind us of the preciousness of every second. “He just lives in the moment,” Cynthia says, with the hope that someday he’ll have someone with whom he can share his memories.
He’ll never get back the last year, but if he finds a home, he’ll spend the rest of his life making up for it.
If you think you might be the person for Buster, please reach out to Hey Buster – You Should Adopt Me on Facebook, or contact the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter at (516) 785-5220 or .
Header image © Cynthia Raven / Hempstead Town Animal Shelter