When Buddy first came to Hull’s Haven Border Collie Rescue in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in March 2015, the 6-year-old Australian Shepherd was obese and in extremely poor health.
“He could only walk about five feet before his tongue would start to turn purple,” says Samantha Gagnon, a volunteer who fostered Buddy for 10 months. “We were very concerned about him having a heart attack.”
Buddy’s weight had ballooned to 180 lbs. under the care of former owners who loved him very much but could no longer look after him properly.
To help Buddy get back on the road to health, Gagnon started feeding him high-protein dog food just twice a day, limited his treats to raw veggies and encouraged him to take short walks around the backyard for exercise. It wasn’t easy at first: “To get from my car into the clinic and to a kennel run, he would need to make a few stops to catch his breath,” says Gagnon. “With time he started walking farther with less stops.”
For more on our six Half Their Size stars and their incredible weight loss stories, watch the full episode of People Features: Half Their Size, available now on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN) and at People.com/halftheirsize. Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS and Android devices.
Buddy’s new lifestyle paid off: Within about 6 months he had lost 100 lbs. and rediscovered his energy. The remaining loose skin was prone to infections, so his vet decided to remove it.
To document his impressive weight-loss journey, Gagnon set up a Facebook page for Buddy where fans could follow his progress. Two of them were Valerie and Alex Dewar, a couple looking for a companion for themselves and their miniature Australian Shepherd. After seeing Buddy on the news, they fell in love with him. “His story broke our heart,” says Valerie. Eventually the Dewars decided to adopt him.
A year later, Buddy is 58 lbs. and fits in perfectly with his forever family. He plays in the dog park, takes long walks outside (or on the treadmill if it’s too cold) and enjoys hanging out with his new brother. “He’s not a fussy dog,” says Valerie. “He’s very lovable!”
Most importantly, Valerie maintains his healthy eating habits. “When I think about what kind of dog he was to begin with and what he’s developed into, it still brings me to tears,” she says. “He’s worked so hard.”
Here’s what Buddy eats now:
Breakfast, 6:00 a.m.
1 1⁄ 2 cups of Performatrin Ultra dog food (grain free, gluten-free Ocean Recipe), Flexadin Plus chew for joint health
During the day
1⁄ 2 cup of cut-up carrots, cucumbers or cherry tomatoes or a combination of all three
Supper, 6:00 p.m.
1 1⁄2 cups of Performatrin Ultra dog food
Once or twice a week he gets half of a cut-up banana, pear or apple.