Every week, Midtown Patch visits an area shelter and highlights the story of an adoptable animal that might otherwise get overlooked.

When released from her cage at Atlanta Pet Rescue Adoption, Xena jumped on me and gave me a big kiss. The 58-pound dog is muscular and powerful, but she is friendly and will play with her squeaky ball for hours.

Kennel Technician and Adoption Counselor Amy Ryan calls the 3-year-old dog a sweetheart. “She’ll lick your face off,” she said.

And then she explained why Xena is kept by herself.

“She was probably neglected at some point. If you’re walking her, you have to hold her really tight.”

Xena lurches at trucks passing by as we’re outside taking photos in the sun and she stares down a cat as we go back inside the building.

For these reasons, she needs a single pet home (or one with very well-behaved dogs) without younger kids.

She was probably on a chain and didn’t get a lot of socializing even as a puppy,” Ryan said. “You have to monitor her around other dogs, she wants to play but doesn’t know how.”

She’s in training right now — where she’s learning commands such as “touch,” “watch,” “sit,” and “leave it” — and could get better with more training.

As we walked back toward her cage, she bounded into the tower of toys in the corner and dug through them to find something to play with.

A few minutes later, she stuck her nose out, carrying a blue oblong toy.

Xena is all smiles, even though she is being treated for heartworms.

“She was already spayed when she came to us May 16, but she was heartworm positive,” Ryan said.

Xena’s former owner did not give her the required monthly dose of heartworm prevention, so she developed the often painful but treatable disease.

Dogs usually recover 100 percent from heartworms, so it’s likely that Xena will be fine. However, she won’t be able to be tested for another three months. Her new owners will need to keep giving her heartworm medicine to prevent the disease from coming back, something pet owners need to do anyway.

She’s potty trained with an adoption fee of $300. If you understand the Boxer breed and would like to adopt this sweetheart of a dog, visit the APRA website or call them at 404-815-6680.

Remember The Dunkster, the three legged dog who is curious about everything? He’s been adopted by an older couple with an 8-year old son. Their son is adopted, so they decided they needed an adopted dog too. When they visited APRA a few weeks ago, the son picked out Duncan because he looked like he needed the most help.

Also, Macy, the patient lime green-eyed cat, has been adopted. The new owners report back that Macy has been amazing.