What's an over-the-hill pooch to do when her winsome curves have disappeared beneath layers of fat? Winnie, a 10-year-old Schnoodle, jumped on the underwater treadmill and exercised her way to fame in the Big Dog/Big Loser Weight Loss Competition, a contest launched by Anne Chauvet, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, a neurosurgeon with Veterinary Neuro Services in Sarasota, Fla., last winter.
Winnie weighed 27.3 pounds when the competition began and weighed 20.4 pounds 12 weeks later.
Chauvet challenged eight owners with dogs 40 percent or more above ideal body weight to adopt healthier lifestyles for their pets through educational meetings and weigh-ins, underwater treadmill exercise sessions, and behavior training classes. This reality competition eliminated dogs monthly, with three finalists competing for first prize: $2,000 and a year of free food to the canine closest to its weight-loss goal. Winnie received top prize, runner-up Tinmook received $500, and runner-up Dudley received a $100 gift certificate to a local pet retailer.