A hound and a half

When Kris­ten Hor­ton, 25, from Vir­ginia, took on pooch Strudel, she had a mas­sive mis­sion on her hands...

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS -

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!

Weigh­ing

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,

‘for­ever’ home.

‘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!

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