This past June, 2015, I took on the challenge of fostering a Cocker Spaniel named Charlotte. She had been rescued by Camp Cocker Rescue, located in Los Angeles, California. Morbidly obese and weighing 50 pounds (twice what she should weigh), she had been dumped by her owners at a high-kill shelter. As if her weight was not big enough sign of neglect, in her estimated 6 years of life, she had clearly never been to a groomer and she was urinating bloody urine (X-rays revealed a bladder full of OLIVE-SIZED bladder stones).. Obviously also an "outdoor-only" dog, her fur was filthy and severely matted, having taken shelter workers over 2 hours to shave off.
Here are some pictures of Charlotte at the beginning of her journey to health.
Despite being so obese, from the very beginning, Charlotte has always been ready for the next adventure, car ride or walk. She also, surprisingly, has always been able to leap from the ground up into the back of my Prius with the seats folded down, as well as jumping up on furniture.
She has made it clear from day 1 that she wants to be a very big part of this household and her favorite place to hang out is next to me on the couch.
The strategy for Charlotte's weight loss is pretty simple. After a visit to Dr. Dody Tyneway, a holistic, integrative veterinarian, she is placed on a high-quality, raw, human-grade diet of fresh meat and vegetables, 500 calories per day. I can't speak highly enough of Darwin's Pet Food. My own dogs are on it as well, and there is nothing like feeding pets a species-appropriate diet to regulate their weight and keep them healthy. The slightly higher cost by FAR offsets the frequent vet visits that I used to experience when I fed my dogs commercial kibble and even so called "prescription" diets.
Charlotte's other issue is the fact that she has a bladder full of giant, olive-sized bladder stones and her urine has blood in it. My heart breaks for her because God only knows how long she has suffered like this. For the stones to be this size, she has undoubtedly been living with urinary urgency and pain for at least a year, if not longer.
Despite the anesthesia risk due to her weight, we decide surgery for the bladder stones needs to happen sooner than later. She sails through surgery and as soon as she recovers is when her transformation really begins to unfold. With her body now able to eliminate properly, plus the fact that she just feels better, Charlotte begins losing her weight at a healthy rate of about 1 pound per week. Here is a progress picture after about 3 months:
Fast-forward from June to today, December 27, and Charlotte has lost a whopping 20 pounds! More than one-third of her original body weight. She is full of excitement for life and now she has the body from which to experience it. Here are some recent pictures that we took:
And now this! After much back and forth, should I, shouldn't I, about the obvious question "Do I keep her," I have decided to trust the Universe to provide me with all resources necessary to care for and adopt this precious, happy girl. She fits in perfectly with my pack (Samantha and Jj) and most of all she loves it here and we love having her. Here are a couple of "Merry Christmas, welcome to your new home, Char" pics.
Home Sweet Home....with her pack.