No one knows what happened to Princess’s puppies. The young momma dog was abandoned on the street, and even though she’s been at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter for more than a year, you can still tell she was a mom.

J. has been a shelter volunteer for a long time, and he doesn’t like to “anthropomorphize” dogs. But Princess is an exception. Like people, this dog grieves. And like people, this dog still has a whole lot of hope.

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The volunteer can’t put his finger on what makes Princess so lovable, but he thinks it might have something to do with the way she cares for others. When she sees a new dog, she’ll often approach and sniff them. J. thinks she’s just checking to see if they’re her puppies.

Princess is just so special,” J. says, “And nobody knows.”

The love that Princess wasn’t able to show to her puppies is the love she carries with her every day. She hops up with just her front legs in J.’s lap and nuzzles her head against his chest, where she can hear his heartbeat.

During our interview, I thanked J. for what he does for the overlooked dog. “It’s not what I do for her…” he replied. It’s what she does for him.

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“She’s still the mother dog,” J. says, “She’s the kind of dog who at the end of the day will make sure everyone’s tucked into their beds. She will make sure everyone else is safe before she goes to sleep. And then she’ll be the first one up in the morning.”

There are days he wonders if Princess will ever find a home. No one has asked about her.

“She’s not the prettiest dog in the world,” J. says with a laugh. Still, it’s impossible to look her without smiling. She has a big, blocky head and wide open eyes. When she’s happy, her eyes fall way in the back of head.

“You know when Princess loves you,” the volunteer tells me.

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J. didn’t plan on visiting Princess on the day we talked. It wasn’t one of his regularly scheduled evenings at the shelter, and he had other plans.

After we talked about her, though, he changed his mind. He longed to see his friend, and he knew she would be sitting in her kennel waiting for him.

Princess lives to nurture and to care for those she loves, and right now, J. is happy to be that person, even if it’s just for a little while. From Princess, he’s learned not to give up. She’s taught him to hold onto hope.

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If Princess finds her family within 30 days of the publication of this story, he will pay her adoption fee as a token of gratitude — both to Princess and to the person who chose to give her a second chance.

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

Header images via A Fairy Tale Ending for Princess