In Brazil, an abandoned puppy found a home amidst piles of garbage and debris. It was behind a gas station, which also housed a cafe. Employees and motorists who had stopped for gas and food fed him junk food and leftover scraps. The cafe food was too rich for him, and he rapidly began to gain weight.
The poor dog became a kind of road-side-attraction the fatter he grew. They named him Bolinha, which in Portuguese means “pellet”, or “marble”. After 13 years Bolinha was not just fat; he was morbidly obese.
Finally he was having trouble breathing and had become almost completely immobile. It’s difficult to imagine that people would walk past and even feed such a pathetic creature without trying to help, however, if a passing motorist was shocked or even outraged, not knowing to whom Bolinha belonged, it would be difficult to know what to do.
The truth is that obese dogs share some of the same stigmas as obese people:
It’s the dog’s fault.
He begs too much.
Fat dogs are funny.
Enter an animal rescuer from a nearby town. He had heard about Bolinha and traveled to the cafe to find him. There, in a trash-filled alley, he found the dog and immediately took him to the Animal Protection Organization (OPO) a Brazilian Non-Governmental association.
After administering what was most likely his very first bath, they began putting him through a battery of careful rehabilitation techniques, including a water-filled-treadmill to take the weight off of Bolinha’s overburdened joints as he exercised.
Besides the dramatic change in a dog’s diet, the most important part of this kind of rehab is replacing overfeeding with copious amounts of love and affection in an environment where the old, neglected dog finally felt safe and secure.
It was a lot of work, and took time, but finally the weight started to fall away. Less than a year later, a totally different dog has emerged. Bolinha shed over 30 lbs and has only 15 lbs left to lose!
Dog obesity is gaining recognition due, in part, to social media. New light is shining on this problem as people share stories that are inspirational, shocking and sometimes, downright appalling.
Clearly Bolinha’s story hits every note: Appalling living conditions. Shocking neglect. Inspirational transformation. Congratulations to this sweet, old guy, and thanks to the kind people who are making his last years so joyful. They have turned a tragedy into a triumph!