Local dog Castiel the Pug beat out a dozen other Lincoln County pets this month, including a cat and horse, to win the title of the Times-News’ “Cutest Pet Contest.”
The pup took in more than 120 votes.
With his six-month birthday approaching later this month, Castiel, named after a character on the hit TV series “Supernatural,” has been a part of the Avery family since February.
While he sometimes spends time in Lincolnton, he often lives with his true owner, Stacie Avery, who is from the area but is currently attending the Savannah College of Art & Design in Georgia.
“Cas,” as he’s sometimes called, came from a breeder in Hickory and was a gift for Avery’s 20th birthday. She noted she had always desired to own a Pug for the breed’s unparalleled look.
“I love their faces, and the cute expressions they make,” she said. “He’s a very unique-looking dog with a unique personality to match.”
Cas often brightens up her day with his many facial expressions and “rambunctious” behavior.
During weeks when Avery is studying for exams or working on certain class projects, and her furry friend stays with her mother in Lincolnton, the college student’s apartment is quiet — lacking the sounds of a sleeping, snoring Cas.
“When he is away, I miss him a lot,” she said. “The silence is a bit odd.”
Avery is currently teaching him to do various tricks, including shaking hands, but on account of his “stubborn” nature, Avery said her canine-in-training has only mastered how to sit — a trick that he’ll typically fail to perform unless a treat is involved.
Her most fond memory of Castiel was when, after months of only being able to walk up her apartment stairs, he learned how to walk down on his own.
“He was terrified of going down,” Avery said, “so I would have to carry him every time. One day, I heard my roommate exclaim, ‘Cas,’ and I automatically thought he had tried to eat her things again, but he had finally gone down the stairs.”
Now, his favorite playtime activity is running up and down the stairs with her roommate’s dog Cooper. Both dogs are quite jealous of one another, Avery noted.
In addition to barking to get others’ attention, sometimes crying when ignored, Cas enjoys flaunting his various doggy wardrobe items around Savannah. He boasts a yellow raincoat, red sweater and yellow shirt that says “Stud Muffin.”
“He loves the dog park and Forsyth Park where there are lots of people and lots of dogs,” she said. “Whenever people see him, they always stop to pet him or take pictures.”
However, canines aren’t the only type of animal with which Cas enjoys interacting.
Avery said he also has no fear of playing with the 10 cats that live at her Lincolnton home.
Second Place: Spud
Spud, owned by Judy Liner and her family, is a rescue dog. He and two other puppies were found by the side of the road by a local woman, who then decided to place an ad in the Times-News to find prospective owners.
The family, who resides in Lincolnton, saw the ad and picked out Spud, having now owned him for about two years.
“He’s been given a second chance,” Liner said. “He’s just a perfect, perfect pet.”
The Border Collie mix was just 7 weeks old when the Liner family adopted him. He’s now a house-trained, intelligent, loving, loyal and friendly creature who never meets a stranger.
Third Place: Rocky
Rocky, owned by 8-year-old Brooke Beddingfield of Lincolnton, was also rescued locally.
The 5-year-old horse, who is boarded at Rolling Hills Equestrian Center, came with his name, but Brooke said she often calls him “Rocky Rock” as a nickname.
A third-grader at Norris S. Childers Elementary School, Brooke has been riding since she was just 5 years old. She has owned Rocky for two years, and he is the only horse she’s ever had.
As for what makes him a special pet, she said, “He’s sweet and gentle.”