October 06, 2015 02:55 PM

A typical day for Dennis the dachshund means not staying still for long. The 6-year-old dog — who weighed in at 56 lbs when he was adopted by Brooklyn Burton in 2013 — has lost three more pounds since being featured in PEOPLE last winter, bringing him down to a trim 10 lbs and he is keen to take advantage of his lighter frame. In fact, the playful pup has a newfound mischievous side, says Burton, 27, a nursing student in Columbus, Ohio.

“It’s like having a toddler in the house,” she jokes. “He’s always getting into something. He just found the yarn stash!” 

In February, Dennis had his last of three procedures to remove the excess skin left behind by his weight loss, but within days he was back to his rambunctious self. “Now that he’s slimmed down, he’s running all over the place,”
says Burton. “He’s making a lot of new friends.”

The dachshund — who used to feast on a diet of pizza, fast-food burgers and TV dinners before Burton rescued him from an elderly relative — has settled fully into his healthy routine: eating 1/3 of a cup of dry food twice a day (plus carrots for snacks), drinking lots of water, taking a daily joint health supplement and going on daily walks. “When I first got him his coat was greasy,” says Burton. “But now I think because he is getting the right nutrients he has a much shinier coat.” 

On twice-a-week cheat days, Dennis snacks on frozen bananas. “He knows how to peel them,” marvels Burton. “I just put a little crack in it.”

Dennis has even come to embrace his once-dreaded monthly baths. “He gives me a look like he hates it,” she says, “But when I get him out of the tub, he runs around like, ‘Look at me, look at me!’ ” 

Hoping to pass on what she has learned, Burton has started a fund called Dennis’ Legacy, which educates pet owners about the dangers of pet obesity and helps other animals lead healthier lives.

“We can’t show our love through food,” says Burton when it comes to caring for pets. 

For more on Dennis’s healthier lifestyle pick up the new issue of PEOPLE (on newsstands now).

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