Alison Schwartz
September 13, 2012 08:30 PM

There’s a lot to love about Obie the dachshund – literally.

Weighing in at 77 lbs. at his heaviest, the 5-year-old dog is on a mission to lose about 40 to 50 pounds (without losing what his foster parent describes as a “sweet and loving” personality, of course).

When Portland, Ore., resident Nora Vanatta took Obie home on Aug. 18, “I had no idea what to expect,” she writes on a Facebook page dedicated to his The Biggest Loser-style weight-loss journey. In her mind, she says, she didn’t think he would actually tip the scale at more than double the weight of a standard dachshund (16 to 32 pounds, according to the American Kennel Club).

Vanatta heard about Obie, after all, in the form of a plea for help: His elderly owners “just couldn’t say ‘no’ to those big brown eyes,” she says, and would overfeed him as a form of affection. A relative of the family stepped in, and Vanatta read about him on the Oregon Dachshund Rescue’s Facebook page.

“Through many tears, the owners relinquished him,” she writes on Facebook. “It is very frustrating and sad, but we are thrilled to be able to help him and [are] now moving on with his new life.”

An Inspiration

Soon, Vanatta – a certified nurse assistant and emergency medical technician who has a degree in animal science and worked as a vet tech for eight years – plans on using swim therapy and treadmill exercises to help Obie get back into shape. First, though, he has to shed a few pounds so he can handle the physical activity.

She’s also teaming up with a Purina representative to feed Obie a low-fat, high-protein diet that’s also rich in isoflavones, a natural bioactive compound that reduces oxidative stress in overweight canines, according to the Oregonian. He’s lost about two pounds a week since switching up his meal-time habits.

When Obie gets down to his goal weight – a challenge that mirrors the driving force behind the NBC weight-loss competition – he might need to have excess skin surgically removed, she says. Vanatta has already taken him to a vet, who revealed normal results for Obie’s blood work.

And as Obie begins his new routine, he’ll have a few furry workout buddies: Vanatta’s other dogs, a black Labrador and another dachshund. Vanatta estimates it will take about a year for Obie (who made his Today show debut Wednesday) to get healthy, and until then, she wants those who hear his story to see the bigger message.

“My hope is that he can be an inspiration to any person or animal trying to lose weight,” she writes. “It is so important to introduce pups and kids to a healthy lifestyle and food choices as early as possible. Prevention is key.”

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