Holly’s favorite thing in the whole world is when people read to her. As part of the Read and Relax program at Southold Animal Center, she looks forward to the days she can go out on the couch, roll over to show her belly, and listen to the sound of someone’s voice.

Holly doesn’t know she’s dying.

Yesterday, shelter manager Gabby Stroup received the results of Holly’s biopsy. The five-year-old dog has osteosarcoma, and the veterinarian estimates she has about ninety days left.

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Holly has never had a real home. She was surrendered to the shelter by a group of homeless women and came in with badly irritated skin and other health problems that were the direct result of neglect. Holly’s daughter was adopted into a loving home, but Holly has received no real interest.

Holly’s diagnosis is very sad news, but Holly isn’t a sad dog. She’s a happy girl who cherishes every minute she spends with people.

That’s the thing about dogs — they never think about how much time they have left. They live for the “right now.” Holly lives to have her belly rubbed. She lives to hear volunteers read stories to her, and although she can’t understand the words, she’s content just to listen.

What’s particularly poignant about Holly’s situation is her devotion to people. She is truly content to just sit on the couch and relax in the presence of a kind human. And still, she’s never known what a real family looks like.

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Gabby doesn’t want Holly to pass away without knowing true and unconditional love. Right now, she’s looking for a foster home for Holly, and the shelter will cover all medical expenses and treatment for as long as she has left.

Last year, I wrote about a dog named Duffy, who was also diagnosed with terminal cancer while inside a shelter. He was adopted by a wonderful mom, and though he passed away recently, he lived much longer than expected. He spent his last days going to the beach, having car rides, and eating steak for dinner.

I cried for Holly when I heard the news, but then I thought about Duffy — not only about the woman who saved him but also about the way he saved her.

If someone is able to take Holly into their home and finally show her what it means to feel warm and safe, they won’t just be giving her the gift of her lifetime. They’ll also be giving themselves a chance to be unconditionally loved.

All dogs love unconditionally, of course, but Holly is special because although she’s never had a home of her own, she seems to instinctively understand the concept of family.

Gabby sees it every day when Holly prances out of her kennel and hopes up on the couch, waiting to hear the rhythmic sound of someone reading.

If you think you might be able to care for Holly for whatever time she has left—whether it be days, weeks, months, or years—please do not wait. Contact Gabby Stroup at the the North Fork Animal Welfare League in Peconic, NY at (631) 765-1811, extension 1. You can also reach out via email at manager@nfawl.org.

Header images via Southold Animal Shelter