This article was featured in WYDaily on 3/15/24
Spunky, yet smooth, playful, yet chill, the perfect package of love, well-trained manners and the desire to simply be a member of the family is sweet Rio, who is waiting to be rescued at The Heritage Humane Society.

A sad anniversary

Rio was surrendered to The Heritage Humane Society on March 6, 2023. He got along well with his family including a six-year-old boy. However, with a new baby on the way, Rio was, well, cut from the team.
This month marked Rio’s one-year anniversary at The Heritage Humane Society – the type of anniversary the shelter works hard for animals to not have to experience. While the vibrant six-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier mix has found love and care there, it’s time for him to find a permanent place, a forever family, to call home.

Meet Rio

With his soulful brown eyes and boundless energy, Rio embodies the spirit of companionship and loyalty. Rio wants a family of his own, providing him with the stability and structure he craves.
Known for his zest for life, Rio’s antics are entertaining. From bounding over three feet high to playing fetch with unwavering enthusiasm, Rio is a bundle of joy waiting to brighten someone’s life. Just the same, Rio loves to snuggle up for some serious downtime. In fact, this big baby loves lots of blankets and toys although unlike babies, Rio is completely potty trained.
He also knows some commands, is an excellent leash walker, and enjoys doggie play yards. He loves exploring, has no issues with other leashed dogs, and if possible, would love to be an only dog in a house with older children or no children at this point in his life.
Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, Rio’s adoption fee has been sponsored, making it easier for his future family to welcome him with open arms.

Rave reviews for Rio

Rio is one of the shelter’s most popular pets. He is constantly the top resident requested for walks, to play in the shelter’s doggie play areas and to go on Fido Field Trips.
Marie Parks, a shelter volunteer, shared, “One day I took Rio to Colonial Williamsburg and he was very happy after a long walk to sit at a bench and watch the world go by. On another occasion after a walk around my neighborhood, I needed a nap so I made him a bed on the floor and I settled down on the couch. After two minutes on his bed he got up, looked at me with very sad eyes, put his paw on my leg and when I patted the couch he was very happy to jump up, lay beside me and put his head in my lap. We had a nice 45 minute nap. On a rainy day at the shelter he seemed to not notice the rain because he loves being outside. When we got back to his space he promptly layed down and rolled over for belly rubs. He loves to go to the play yard and play ‘find the treats’ and ‘tug of war.’”

Sharon Willoughby, another Heritage Humane Society volunteer, described Rio as a gentle giant, cherishing moments when he gazes into her eyes with sincerity. “Rio’s affectionate nature and love for scratches make every interaction with him special. He’s a real couch potato,” she added.
Stephen Munday, also a part of Rio’s fan club and a shelter volunteer, praised Rio’s intelligence and eagerness to learn. “Rio is a big boy that has the capability to show affection and respond relatively quickly to training. He is a smart dog that enjoys interacting with his handler and is eager to please in exchange for reward treats. He loves to get treats and sometimes seems to demand them without aggression. Rio walks very well on a leash. He stands patiently to allow the placement and removal of his harness. He acknowledges the presence of other dogs without being reactive. Some of the tricks he likes to do in exchange for a treat are; sit, lay down, roll over and give a paw. I am still working on getting him to stay. Even though Rio is a very large dog, he is not clumsy or forceful with his motions. He would be most happy in a large home with a backyard. He’s not a runner or dasher. He loves to just sniff around and be free from a leash at times,” Munday remarked.

Amy Willoughby, CPDT-KA, a dog trainer at Shared Joy Dog Training and The Heritage Humane Society, emphasized Rio’s adaptability and low-energy nature, making him an ideal cuddle buddy for lazy afternoons. Willoughby shares, “Rio is a very snuggly, low-key kind of guy. He won’t require much exercise and will likely take up residence at his person’s feet quickly. He’s been working with a few Heritage Humane Society Dog Handler Volunteers to teach him household skills like kenneling up and polite car rides to hikes. Rio has been learning to ‘kennel up’ when asked and has enjoyed crate training. He also knows so many tricks, walks like a dream on the leash, and is pretty low-energy. He is also non-reactive to other dogs on leash. Plus he’s super cute!”
As Rio continues to charm volunteers and visitors alike with his playful antics and loving nature, The Heritage Humane Society urges potential adopters to consider opening their hearts and homes to this special dog.

Adopt Rio or one of his many friends

The shelter is filled with homeless pets who are just as eager to have forever homes. Nearly 150 dogscats and small pets are currently in their care. Adoptable pets are available to meet during The Heritage Humane Society’s visiting and adopting hours from 12 to 4:30 p.m., Tues. through Sun.
To learn more, visit, call 757-221-0150, or visit The Heritage Humane Society located at 430 Waller Mill Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185.

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