By Josh Saunders
A ‘ready to burst’ podgy pooch who lost eight stone and even needed excess skin removal surgery has newfound LEASH OF LIFE in his forever home.
Bloated Buddy, the Australian-shepherd, was so swollen out of proportion when weighing nearly 13 stone (180lb) he was at risk of suffering a fatal heart attack at any moment and could barely walk.
He was described by Hull’s Haven Border Collie Rescue as looking like a ‘sausage ready to burst’ two-years-ago when he was more than four times the weight he should be.
Foster carers Angela Hand and Samantha Gagnon from the rescue team took him in and slowly reduced his food intake until he was healthy enough to exercise, after vets previously estimated Buddy had ‘six months to live’.
Now he’s lost an impressive eight stone (112lb) and has a forever home after having four inches of excess skin removed to stop infections and sores.
In his new home with Alex and Valerie Dewar, 52 and 62, from Winnipeg, Canada, he’s became a local celebrity for continuing to slim down and has even inspired people in the community to lose weight too.
Angela Hand, 41, a vet technician, said: “I was told he was overweight, but in human terms this was comparable to an 800lb (57stone) person, I was not expecting that and worried I wouldn’t fit him in my vehicle.
“He looked so full, every part of him couldn’t get any bigger – he had tiny legs for such a massive, swollen body and looked like a sausage ready to burst.
“His health was very precarious – any amount of physical activity could have damaged his heart and even from a few steps his tongue would turn purple which wasn’t a good sign.
“He was a very extreme case, so we reduced his food intake and went very slowly with his exercise, we were worried he could have a heart attack if he over worked himself.
“We never pushed him to do any extra physical activity, I have an acre for my dogs to run on and every day he was walking a little further.
“He did things at his own pace, we didn’t want him to stress his joints either and the better he felt the more he was able to exercise.
“I’m ecstatic with what we achieved, I didn’t think we’d get him to the weight he was at, I’m proud we were able to help him and now he has a great life with a new family who adore him.
“His life is so different now, he goes on walks every day and would never be able to do what he can now like jumping on the bed or couch, before it was never an option for him.”
Angela admits the first time she saw Buddy, during her rescue with Hull’s Haven, she couldn’t believe how large the dog was.
She said: “When I went to the house, I was shocked by the size of him, this dog was like a whale.
“We were prewarned that he had been living with an elderly couple, who did the best they could but showed their love through food which got Buddy to 180lb (12st 12).
“He would have been dead in six months if he continued on the path he was on.
“Even getting up the stairs was hard, now he has his entire life back and is able to do things that other healthy dogs do.”
After Buddy’s extreme weight loss, he was left with sagging skin that presented skin problems and caused him basic mobility issues.
Angela said: “He had a large excess flap of skin on his back covering his hips and over his tail, there was a good four inches that had to be removed to stop sores appearing.
“It even affected his ability to move, when he ran it would jiggle so much it would put him off balance and impeded his physical activity.”
Since then, he moved in with new loving owners Alex and Valerie Dewar, 52 and 62, last year, where they have continued his strict diet and exercise to get him to a healthy weight.
Buddy who now eats a healthy one and a quarter cups of food twice a day, has even inspired owner Alex to alter his eating habits.
Alex, a transit bus driver, said: “Buddy has definitely changed the way I look at food, I always tried to lose weight in the past but he’s my inspiration now, if he can do it so can I.
“He’s put me on a health kick since January and I’ve lost 37lb (2st 9) just through watching what I eat and walking him twice a day.
“I put myself to the challenge, he went through so much he was near to death, when he came in he could barely walk at all, my thoughts are if he can do it so can I.
“He’s quite the celebrity in our area too, once while on a walk we had a lady chase after us in her pyjamas because she recognised Buddy.
“When we are at the park, people hesitantly stare at him and then come over to ask if it is Buddy – the dog who lost all the weight.
“For the most part Buddy doesn’t struggle with exercise now, we will do a walk around the park for 30-45minutes a day and at the end of it, like any dog, he is huffing and puffing but is a real trooper.”
Angela says that obesity in dogs is a big problem, but sticking to a regimented strict diet with minimal treats can help any pet lose weight.
She added: “Sometimes it can be hard for people to feed their pets regimented amounts of food and give them few treats, because pets act like they are starving.
“We have taught pets to beg for treats too, it pulls at our heartstrings and unfortunately they get overweight.
“Any dog can lose weight if his or her owner is diligent enough and understands the importance of proper food and nutrition.
“It’s hard to change bad feeding habits for dogs, but training the owner is much harder.”
To donate to or find out more about Hull’s Haven Border Collie Rescue visit: www.hullshaven.org