Last year, Obie weighed in at a whopping 77 pounds — that’s more than double the weight of a healthy Dachshund. His former owners, an elderly couple with perfectly good intentions, expressed their love for their dog by feeding him table scraps and frequent treats, causing Obie to balloon to an unhealthy size. The couple eventually surrendered Obie to an Oregon rescue organization because they could no longer care for the portly pooch.
Dog lover and Portland, Ore., resident Nora Vanatta learned of Obie’s struggle from the Oregon Dachshund Rescue and knew she could do something for the poor pup.
“I really couldn’t believe it,” she says of Obie’s condition when she first saw him. “He had chronic infections in the skin and he wasn’t able to walk.”
Losing weight would become a matter of life or death for the obese Doxie.
“I don’t think he was going to live very much longer,” Vanatta tells ABC News of Obie. “He probably would have died.”
Vanatta — an EMT, Certified Nursing Assistant, and former veterinary technician with a degree in animal science — brought Obie home with the intention of fostering him, hoping she could help the tubby Doxie drop some weight. She would eventually fall in love and decide to adopt the pudgy pooch.
From the start, it was clear to Vanatta that bringing her new dog down to a healthy weight would prove to be quite a challenge. After consulting with a veterinarian, Vanatta put Obie on a healthy diet. According to OregonLive.com, Vanatta consulted with a representative from Purina to feed Obie food low in fat and high in protein. His new diet also included isoflavones, an organic compound that lessens oxidative stress in dogs.
Vanatta also began a regiment of gentle exercise, which included short, slow walks on a donated treadmill and hydrotherapy treatments.
Little by little, Obie’s extra weight started coming off. Since beginning his new healthy lifestyle last year, Obie has undergone a drastic transformation; with the help of his loving new owner, the once dangerously obese Obie is now a svelte shell of his former self.
But as Obie started to lose weight, it was clear to veterinarians that the Doxie would need to have surgery—essentially a “tummy tuck” — to remove the excess skin Obie now dragged around with him. Vanatta points out that the surgery was not cosmetic, as the skin caused limited mobility.
“That skin was dragging between the front legs and he kept stepping on it,” Vanatta explains. “And having short legs made it really hard. So he had to have that done.”
Before Obie went in for his “tummy tuck” at the Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin Tuesday, he weighed in at around 37 pounds. After veterinarians removed Obie’s excess skin, he’s looking even slimmer.
“We haven’t weighed him since the surgery,” Vanatta tells KGW.com, “but he lost 2-1/2 pounds of skin. So he should be around 35 pounds now.”
Vanatta says Obie still has a little ways to go before reaching his ideal weight.
“I figure his healthy weight is between 28 and 30 pounds,” Vanatta explains, meaning Obie should lose 5 to 7 more pounds to reach his goal. Then the mission will be to maintain that healthy lifestyle for the rest of Obie’s now extended life.
According to his Facebook page — Biggest Loser, Doxie Edition — Obie is now back home and doing well. Vanatta posted a video of Obie relaxing in the grass after his surgery, visiting with his siblings — a black and tan Dachshund and a black Labrador Retriever.
“He was up and wagging his tail this morning,” Vanatta was happy to report.