When Jersey first came to the Popcorn Park Zoo, shortly after Superstorm Sandy decimated his owner's home, he was terrified.
It wasn't the three-year-old Belgian Malinois' first time in a shelter. His master had adopted him from the Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter and brought him home to Barnegat, near the water.
"He had a home for a long time," said Popcorn Park employee Sandy Hickman. "Now he's back in a shelter."
Then came Sandy. His owner stayed with him in their devastated house, until the mold and cold drove them out.
"He was trying to keep him" Hickman said. "He was using a blanket on the dog instead of himself. He just couldn't stay with the mold and water issues."
Jersey's owner searched for months to find a place that would accept a dog as big as Jersey, she said.
"He couldn't find a place where he could bring him," Hickman said. The owner made the heartbreaking decision to turn Jersey over to Popcorn Park and surrendered him.
The bewildered dog was traumatized. But months of attention and love from shelter employees and volunteers gradually brought the big dog out of his shell.
Today Jersey is "great," Hickman said. "He absolutely loves people. He's great with kids.
But Jersey needs a home without other pets. The big, beautiful russet-colored dog is three and a half years old and weighs between 80 to 90 pounds, Hickman said.
He romped in a dog run in the Friday afternoon sunshine and splashed in a small wading pool, trying to bite the water.
"You're such a good boy," Hickman said as she bent over to pet him.
Jersey is available for adoption. He's been neutered, has all his shots and is microchipped. To see Jersey, visit Popcorn Park at 1 Humane Way in Forked River between 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 609-693-1900.