Bobby got back: Severely overweight border collie on the road to health

Bobby the border collie was 123 pounds when he started his weight loss journey last week, taking the first few pawsteps down the long road to shedding half his body weight.

Bobby the 123-pound border collie is beginning a weight loss journey to shed half his weight

Bobby is severely overweight but starting a weight loss journey with Manitoba Underdogs (Sunny S-H Photography)

Bobby the border collie was 123 pounds when he started his weight loss journey last week, taking the first few pawsteps down the long road to shedding half his body weight.

Bobby was taken in by Manitoba Underdogs last week. His elderly owner suffered from dementia, and the family contacted the rescue to help Bobby move on to get the care he needs.

Lindsay Gillanders of Manitoba Underdogs said he's the most obese dog most of the staff have ever seen, and the team have started him on an emergency weight loss diet.

While the rescue normally deals with undernourished animals, Gillanders said overfeeding can be just as dangerous as underfeeding, and comes with a set of health issues ranging from joint pain to kidney, liver and heart disease.

123-pound border collie starts weight loss journey

6 years ago
Duration 0:52
Bobby the border collie is taking the first few pawsteps down the long road to shedding half his body weight, thanks to Manitoba Underdogs.

"It's hard. You can't tell your dog that you love them, so sometimes we do that with cookies and with treats and with things that we shouldn't," she said.

Diet, exercise the key

Gillanders said the rescue has started Bobby on a strict regimen of healthier food and short walks to get him in shape. He's not loving the early days, she said, and can only make it about half a block before he sits down and decides he's done walking.

"Right now we're trying to feed him low-fat food and he's not so much a fan of it," she said. "He's not eating it, but that could be because he's a little nervous and a little scared to be in a new environment, or maybe he's just a high-fat kind of guy."

"But eventually he will get hungry and he will have to eat his low-fat food, unfortunately for him."

Aside from his size, Gillanders said Bobby doesn't have many other health concerns — "a miracle," she said, given the risks that come with obesity.

She said the rescue is also trying to make sure he loses weight safely.

"We want to make sure that he loses the weight responsibly and healthily, and that he's always being monitored by a vet to make sure that it's a rapid weight loss but it's a careful weight loss, and that there's no health issues that we just can't see right now that'll eventually pop up," she said.

Bobby doesn't like exercise much now, but rescuers hope he'll be spry soon. (Sunny S-H Photography)

Show your love in other ways

Gillanders said it's important pet owners fight the urge to show love with food and treats, and make sure not to overfeed.

"Pay really careful attention to portion control," she said. "There are some dogs out there that will always pretend to be hungry, but as long as you're feeding them what has been recommended by the vet and by the brand of food, they're not going to go hungry. They'll be healthier in lots of cases."

Gillanders said there are lots of other ways to tell your pets you love them.

"Just remembering that food isn't love, and cookies aren't always the best way to go sometimes," she said. "Sometimes a walk or some fetch or even a belly rub means just as much to your dog as the cookie will."

Bright future

Right now, Bobby isn't very lively, but Gillanders said he'll be able to keep up with other dogs his age once he slims down.

"He's definitely a smart guy, and once he figures out that exercise is fun, and once he can do it without being in pain, I guarantee that he will be zipping around the yard," she said.

Gillanders guessed Bobby's recovery will take six months to a year, and he might need skin removal surgery afterward.

After that, Bobby will be ready to be adopted into a forever home, but Gillanders said they're not accepting applications yet.

If you want to follow Bobby's weight loss journey, Manitoba Underdogs will be posting updates on its Facebook page and on Instagram using the hashtag #BobbyGotBack.

The rescue is asking for donations to fund Bobby's recovery. To donate, visit the Manitoba Underdogs website.