A hound and a half
When Kristen Horton, 25, from Virginia, took on pooch Strudel, she had a massive mission on her hands...
She’d eaten a poor diet, with very little exercise
The moment I saw Strudel, I fell in love with her.
Maybe it was the big brown eyes. Perhaps the huge, cheeky smile.
Or maybe the fact that this gorgeous golden retriever was, well, a little on the tubby side.
OK, make that a lot on the tubby side!
5st 12lb, the porky pooch was nearly double the 3st recommended for her breed.
‘Aww, look!’ I said to my hubby Wynn, 25, as I perused the Hearts for Hounds Facebook page, an organisation that found homes for unwanted dogs.
We’d helped them out a few times, fostering 10 dogs before a permanent home was found.
It turned out that Strudel needed a foster home, too.
‘Let’s have her!’ I said to Wynn. ‘We could even help her to lose weight.’
‘Why not?’ Wynn agreed. An animal lover like me, we shared Chloey, a 4-month-old rescue dog, and a rabbit called Oliver.
We wanted a second dog to keep Chloey company, but didn’t have the time or money for another full-time pup.
Going to collect Strudel in August 2017, I was smitten.
‘She’s adorable!’ I cooed, as her tail wagged frantically.
She was so sweet and gentle, but also slow and heavy.
‘There’s no way I can lift her!’ I told Wynn as we got ready to take her home. ‘You’ll have to do it!’
Watching Wynn try to haul Strudel into the car, I sighed.
We were going to have our work cut out, getting our chubby chum’s weight down.
‘She needs to lose the pounds,’ a vet confirmed, when we took her for a check-up.
Turned out she had a high fat content, crunchy joints and a thyroid problem.
‘No more fatty treats for you,’ I told her firmly.
We found out Strudel had spent most of her life with an elderly woman who’d been unwell, hadn’t been able to take care of her properly. Strudel had eaten a poor diet, with very little exercise.
When the lady died, her family took Strudel to a shelter to make sure she got a good,
‘We’ll find you a new family,’ I promised Strudel – we just had to get her into shape first.
Under the vet’s guidance, we started by putting her on a strict diet – half a cup of dry food and a spoonful of wet food twice a day, plus a pill for her joints and one for her thyroid.
And we took Strudel for two-mile walks every day.
At the weekend, we’d make sure it was at least three miles, maybe even four.
To begin with, it was tough. Strudel would get tired after less than a mile, stop in the middle of the pavement, and have a lie down, before walking a bit further and doing the same again.
Tempting though it was to push her to walk more, we had to remember she hadn’t had an easy life, and wasn’t used to so much activity, or even being outdoors much.
‘We don’t want to overwork
her,’ Wynn and I agreed. So we were careful, always carrying water, making sure Strudel was hydrated.
Chloey loved the company, too!
Our patience paid off. Within a month, Strudel’s energy levels were through the roof, and she was always waiting by the front door when she saw me getting her lead for walks.
Her tail wouldn’t stop wagging from the minute we’d go out, until we got back again.
‘Look at her! She’s like a completely different dog!’ I laughed to Wynn.
‘You can see the confidence in her!’ he agreed happily.
We signed her up for weekly agility-training classes, which helped with the weight loss and strengthened her joints.
Seeing Strudel come out of her shell was amazing. She was with us for four months, and we never heard her bark once! Even when she lost the weight, and was bounding around chasing squirrels and rabbits, she never made a peep.
At the end of November, it was time to pass Strudel on to her new, permanent family.
We were sad to see her go, as she’d become part of the family, but were thrilled she was leaving so much happier and healthier.
At her weigh-in, she was
Seeing her come out of her shell was amazing
down to a good 3st 11lb! The great thing is, she’s gone to a home nearby. Wynn used to take her to work sometimes and a colleague showed interest in adopting her.
Strudel is a special dog, so we knew she had to go to a special home. Her new owners were looking for a therapy dog for their daughter, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Strudel is a gentle giant and has a lot of love to give, so we knew she’d be the perfect fit.
We get email updates and pictures regularly, and even get to see her sometimes.
It’s great knowing she’s with a caring, happy family, and still running around and keeping off those unwanted pounds!