When the local children come to volunteer at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter in Long Island, there’s one dog they always want to see: Chase.
The kids are part of the reading program, and while they aren’t allowed to touch the dogs, they are allowed to sit outside their cages, open up their books, and read aloud. And for Chase, that’s more than enough.
Some dogs, shelter volunteer Danielle Guzzardo tells me, can get overly excited or anxious when they see people standing or sitting outside, but Chase is different. When the kids come, he knows it’s time for a story. He wags his tail for a bit, then he curls up, tucks his head into his paws, and enjoys the sound of the child’s voice.
One of the most dedicated volunteers, 9-year-old Chris Chianese, told us, “I loved reading to Chase and can’t wait to go back next week. Chase was nervous when we first met, but after a few minutes, he was calm, and he even looked at the pictures and took a nap!”
It’s not just reading; Chase loves whenever someone takes the time to talk to him. Danielle has heard a few times that singing to a shelter dog can be therapeutic, and this is especially true for Chase. She’ll often sing to him, and the melodies bring him comfort.
Although he was found wandering the streets alone, Chase was at one time in a home. Danielle knows this because he is clearly housebroken; he won’t do his business inside the kennels. He holds it until he can go outside. Even though he doesn’t have a family any more, it’s obvious Chase is trying to be a good boy.
Chase’s favorite thing in the world next to reading is probably training, and Danielle cherishes the time she spends teaching him new things. Nothing makes him happier than making people proud, and when he does something right, he wiggles all over.
There was one time they were practicing a particularly tricky series of commands, and Chase did them perfectly. But the most touching part wasn’t his intelligence; it was his excitement. When Danielle told him he’d done well, the little black and white dog was overcome with joy and pride.
“That moment to reminded me why I do what I do as a volunteer,” Danielle says. There are some painful days, but there are also extraordinarily beautiful days, like this one. Chase adores butt-scratches, and when he wants a treat, he puts his paw in Danielle’s lap.
The volunteer describes Chase as the most human-like dog she’s ever met, and he craves time with people. “If Chase gets adopted,” Danielle explains, “He won’t just be the family dog. He’ll be a member of the family.”
Chris, the young volunteer, agrees. “I wish I could adopt Chase but I have an old, sick dog at home,” he says, “I hope someone great adopts Chase because he is awesome.”
If you’re interested in meeting Chase, please reach out via his Facebook page, and contact the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter at (516) 785-5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find his details here, and follow the shelter itself on Facebook.
Header image via Therese Villemure / Chase Your Dreams