In 2010 Eric O’Grey, a sales manager from San Jose, California, weighed 340 lbs., and his health was rapidly declining. A naturopathic doctor gave him an unconventional prescription: Get a dog. “She knew my underlying problem wasn’t medical, it was being reclusive,” says O’Grey, 58, who chronicled his journey in a new book out now, Walking with Peety (cowritten by former PEOPLE writer Mark Dagostino).
O’Grey called a local animal shelter, jokingly asking if there was “an overweight, middle-aged dog” available. There was: a 7-year-old border collie-Australian shepherd mix, whom O’Grey adopted and named Peety. They started with short strolls, building up to long walks that helped both drop weight — in one year, O’Grey lost 160 lbs., and Peety lost 25 lbs.
Peety also made O’Grey social. “I called him my weapon of mass seduction,” he says. “You can approach someone with a dog and start a conversation.” Peety died in 2015 — O’Grey has since married his teenage sweetheart, rescued a new dog named Jake and taken up marathon running. But Peety gets the credit for changing his life: “He cured me.”
O’Grey recently stopped by PEOPLE Now to share some memories of Peety; hear more about the pair’s amazing journey in the clip above.