ASTORIA — An Astoria man who left Queens earlier this month to enlist in the Army was forced to leave his beloved dog behind — a three-year-old Blue Brindle Pitbull named Sinatra, who's now on the prowl for a permanent home.
Sal Lopez, 27, who named the dog after the famed singer, reached out to the nonprofit Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals earlier this month to help find an adoptive home for the pooch.
"He had been doing everything he could to find a home for Sinatra before he had to ship out to basic training, and he reached out to us right before he was about to give up," said Jane Hoffman, president of the Alliance, a coalition of nonprofit shelters and rescue groups.
"I have a particular soft spot for people who are about to join the military and are having a hard time finding homes for their four-footed family members that they're leaving behind," she said.
Sal Lopez had owned the dog since it was just a puppy. His grandmother, Mary Lopez, said her grandson was "devastated" to have to give Sinatra away. But dogs aren't allowed at his military base in Georgia, and he doesn't know where he'll be sent during the next four years of service, she said.
"I can't take him because I have a problem with one of my legs — I don’t walk that well — and he's a strong dog. Otherwise, I would have taken him a heart beat," Lopez said, saying they searched tirelessly to find Sinatra a home but had no luck.
Sinatra has a penchant for long walks, running around outside, and eggs served on top of his Alpo, Lopez said. He has a calm temperament, rarely ever barks, and is trained to stay off the furniture.
"[People] see a pit bull and they say, oh, he's got to be rough and tough, but that’s not Sinatra," she said. "He's the complete opposite of what you'd think."
"He's a doll. How can I put it into better words?" she said.
The Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals set Sinatra up with a foster home at Glen Wild Animal Rescue, an animal sanctuary in upstate New York, where he's gotten his first taste of life outside the big city.
"We have horses, and I guess he's never seen a horse," said Glen Wild founder Liz Keller. "His face was priceless. He kept looking at them like 'That’s the biggest dog I've ever seen!'"
Keller described Sinatra as loveable, friendly, and a "ball of energy."
"The only part that’s sad is I know he misses his owner," she said, saying she had friends visit last weekend, one of whom was a man around the same age as Sal Lopez.
"I don’t know if he looks like Sal or not, but Sinatra got so excited. He was making some kind of connection between the young man and his owner," she said, saying Sal Lopez had told her over the phone that leaving Sinatra behind was "hardest thing he ever had to do."
"He cried when Sinatra left," she said. "His grandmother's called four times already to check on Sinatra."
Keller said Sinatra is neutered and has all his shots. He weighs around 50 pounds, a size that would make him the ideal pet for families with older children, around ten and up.
"To me, Sinatra is like a diamond in the rough. He's a really great pit bull," she said. "He's such a love. He just wants to be part of the family."
Editor's Note: Anyone interested in adopting Sinatra can e-mail Glen Wild Animal Rescue at firstname.lastname@example.org.