At Crooked Leg Ranch near Quesnel, six-year-old dog Dolly hobbled on all fours, happy to be roaming about outside with her furry friends.
It hasn’t been easy for the obese Husky Border Collie mix to get to this point after weighing more than twice the average canine her size at 125 pounds.
A foster family with the animal sanctuary helped her lose some weight beginning in October of 2021.
Through a restricted low-fat diet, Dolly was able to shed some weight and even go up and down a couple of stairs to get into the backyard.
Before then, her mobility was severely limited and she struggled to breathe when laying down.
“They did really great with her, and they got her down with a 20-pound weight loss which is pretty significant,” said Willow Eyford, volunteer at the ranch.
Eyford was taken aback at how overweight Dolly was and described loading Dolly into a truck as a feat in itself.
Dolly became overweight after her previous owner overfed her.
Because Dolly started to no longer get along with her foster family’s small dog, she now spends her day with other rescues at Crooked Leg Ranch, such as Donkey, a donkey from Mission with metabolic disease, Marty, a 700-pound pig who was born paralyzed, and Buster, a friendly dog who has been at the sanctuary for the past eight years after arriving with a zombie-like appearance due to a chronic skin infection.
“She’s so quiet and shy, and she likes to just watch, but she’s done really well, and she is starting to pick up the cues from the other dogs,” Eyford said.
“When they get they get excited, she’s like ‘Ok,
I don’t know what we’re doing, but I’m excited about it too,’—it’s pretty funny.”
While Dolly’s first day at Crooked Leg Ranch was a bit “overwhelming”, she has since settled down.
Eyford suspects Dolly’s dislike of the other dogs being rambunctious and playing near her was because she could not previously move or defend herself due to her weight, which left her feeling vulnerable.
“She gets excited when she sees us now in the morning when we come upstairs—she’s like dancing,” Eyford said.
“I think if she physically could, she would jump up on us like you’re here, but she can’t, so she just kind of rolls back and forth.”
Dolly still has at least 40 pounds to lose before reaching a healthy weight.
On Sunday, March 13, Dolly slowly climbed down a relatively long flight of stairs. After she received a small treat with some of her friends who surrounded Eyford, Dolly then happily walked about the sanctuary without a leash, sniffing and taking a few breaks in between.
“You can tell she’s just amazed at the world,” Eyford said, adding Dolly watches closely when they play fetch with the other dogs.
”I think she’s just been so isolated and restricted because of her size, so it’s going to be interesting when she can actually move normally what her personality is going to be like.”
Like Dolly’s newfound friends, Crooked Leg Ranch provides care to displaced and special needs pets and farm animals Eyford describes requiring a bit more care and time to get them to the point of optimal well-being and potentially being adopted out.
She was surprised Dolly arrived without skin problems related to obesity and said her existing health conditions remain unclear.
Many pet owners commonly make the association food is love and will compensate walking or other activities with treats.
“Dolly is definitely going to have arthritis when she gets older, and what damage has been done to her organs we don’t know yet,” Eyford said.
“Obese pets are a major problem, and you’re shortening the life of your pet.”
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