Maximus, the muscular, high-energy, white and tan retriever mix repeatedly adopted and returned to Columbus’ PAWS Humane animal shelter is back in the shelter. Again.
Four times he has been adopted. Three times his new owners returned him. This time it wasn’t the adopters who brought him back: He was found wandering along a highway in LaGrange, Ga.
“Max was found and picked up by a Good Samaritan after wandering around on a bypass,” Casey Smith of PAWS wrote in response to an email inquiry. “The Good Samaritan brought Max to PAWS Humane. We found out that his owner no longer wanted ownership of Max, and he was relinquished back into our care. So, now he is available for adoption again. It's so sad because he is such a great dog, but we are dedicated to finding him the perfect fit.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Ledger-Enquirer
Records show the shelter last took him in on Oct. 10. He still was there Wednesday, and still available for adoption.
He is not a bad dog: He loves people; he loves other dogs; he knows basic commands such as “sit,” “down,” “stay,” “off,” “look” and “leave it.” He has been trained to walk on a harness.
PAWS once thought the best place for Maximus would be a farm with lots of open space for him to run and play and burn off energy. It would have been, had his instinct for alpha-dog dominance not made him think he could dominate the livestock, including horses that have their own instincts, such as kicking and stomping canines who appear to threaten them.
Similarly, cats, chickens and other small animals were an issue: Max saw them as prey he was free to chase. It seems any farm he goes to should be one that raises only other dogs.
A best friend
PAWS adoption manager Kati Morrell once described Max as the perfect fit for someone who wants to spend a lot of time being his best friend: “He loves to get attention, but he also requires attention as well. He needs someone who’s going to be focused on him. … He loves affection. He loves to be petted.”
Now 3 years old, he has been neutered, micro-chipped and vaccinated. And well-socialized, too, when it comes to people: “We have volunteers that take him downtown quite a bit. He loves crowds; he loves being the center of attention,” Morrell said.
When PAWS posts an adoptable pet’s profile online, it writes the piece in first-person, as if the dog were talking:
“I came to PAWS from animal control and found a few families who took me home, but I haven't found quite the right fit yet,” reads Max’s profile. “I love being a couch potato and I'll cuddle up with you anytime. I have a few basic manners that I learned from the volunteer trainers and staff at PAWS. … I get along great with people, but can be selective about other dogs. I would rather not be in a home with cats or other small animals (they're too tempting and I like to chase them). I need a patient owner who will continue to train me and take me on plenty of walks with my Easy Walk harness. I would like a forever home with a fenced in yard and plenty of room to run!”
Maximus last made the news in a June 30 Ledger-Enquirer report on PAWS’ using him to accelerate the socialization of a once-wild dog named Ghost, who as a puppy escaped into the woods around PAWS’ 4900 Milgen Road facility during a transport. Ghost grew up alone, for a year, before he was captured.
Initially Ghost was too scared of humans to endure their company, as Smith wrote early on: “Ghost doesn’t wag his tail; he doesn’t know how to accept affection; and he doesn’t know how to trust humans.”
Donors paid for PAWS to build Ghost his own outdoor pen and shelter, so he wouldn’t feel trapped inside the building.
Though Ghost wasn’t comfortable with humans, he liked other dogs, so PAWS tried using the super-social Maximus to teach the super-shy Ghost that people can be OK.
And it worked: “Relaxing around humans, accepting affection, really our being able to touch his neck and his head, a lot of that came from his seeing Maximus’ affection, and Maximus is a very affectionate dog,” Morrell said. “So Maximus has really done a lot of work for Ghost.”
Now PAWS finds itself in an unexpected position, with these two dog buddies: It always thought Maximus would find a home first, and getting Ghost ready for adoption would take much longer.
Last week, PAWS announced Ghost is ready to go home, his fear of people suitably reduced.
Now he could leave the shelter before Max, whose total time there now adds up to 665 days.
“It's super unfortunate,” Smith wrote in an email Wednesday. “But as always, we are taking the best care of him that we can. It's clear that he loves his PAWS people, because he lights up when he sees any of us, but it is still so sad that he can't find a loving home that will last forever.”