“He is just a gem,” said Pawmetto Lifeline Adoption Advocate Alexa Sparkman. She spoke while watching Lio the dog play happily with Elizabeth Childers, Pawmetto’s director of marketing and communications. The 75 pound Catahoula leopard dog mix has been at Pawmetto for more than two years, and the staff and volunteers are working hard to find him a forever home.
“He’s one of our best trained dogs,” Childers said of Lio, and Sparkman demonstrated. Lio sits and speaks on command, fetches a tennis ball with great excitement, takes treats from a person’s hand (Pawmetto staffer Leon Panoo even holds the treats dangling from his mouth for the dog to grab), and sits still with a treat in plain view until told to go get it. “He’s great taking from your hand and being respectful and mindful of the boundaries,” Sparkman said, making one wonder why he hasn’t been adopted already.
Like other dogs at Pawmetto, Lio spends most of his time in his kennel, an indoor space all his own. Potential adopters walk through the room of kennels to look at the dogs, and Lio will sometimes bark loudly and rush at his kennel door. “He still is working on it, but he would scare off some people,” Sparkman explained. “We’ve seen less and less. We think it’s because he’s gotten used to people walking by him.” Sparkman has invited Lio into her own home several times, and had no problems, finding he likes to snuggle on the couch and bed if allowed.
Before arriving at Pawmetto, Lio was in a home where he was subjected to a shock collar and other types of negative reinforcement, likely including having his food taken away as a punishment. As a result, he can be sensitive about feeding. “It was just a cycle of improper training that led to negative behavior that was reinforced by responses to that behavior,” Sparkman said. However, it comes with a fairly simple solution. “He has boundaries just like we have boundaries… When it comes to food, let him be, let him eat.”
Sparkman said she and the rest of the Pawmetto staff are determined to find the perfect home for Lio. She thinks he would be best suited to a home without children, because children can forget to respect boundaries at times. Lio is house trained, and thanks to a sponsorship, has a reduced adoption fee and free vaccinations and training for life. “That’s a huge deal,” Sparkman said. Anyone who is potentially a good fit for Lio can also set up a foster to adopt arrangement, in which he would stay in a home for a week or two as a trial run.
More information on Lio is available online, by phone at (803) 465-9170, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find a special message from him and more photos here. As Sparkman put it, “He just wants to be someone’s best friend.”