The dramatic weight loss of a severely chunky golden retriever mix could be an inspiration to people caring for overweight pets.
Obesity is a real problem for cats and dogs in the United States, and extra pounds can lead to serious health issues and a lower quality of life.
That's why when Kristy and John Cotthaus, owners of dog training business Zoom Room Virginia Beach, first heard about Strudel over the summer, they knew they had to help.
Strudel had just come into the care of dog rescue group Hearts for Hounds, where she ended up after the death of her elderly owner. Weighing in at almost 81 pounds, the 7-year-old Strudel was visibly far too heavy and suffering from issues like inflamed joints.
The couple offered their fitness services for free, working with a veterinarian to develop a proper diet plan and designing an agility course that wouldn't be too strenuous. In spite of her heft, Strudel was a natural.
"We motivate dogs with treats, toys and praise but Strudel was actually easy, it's almost like she knew what she had to do," Kristy Cotthaus told HuffPost in an email. "We didn't have to use any treats at all because she was motivated to do the agility [course] with just lots of praise."
Strudel is up for adoption through Hearts for Hounds, and in the meantime she's being fostered by volunteer Kristen Horton, who can't stop singing her praises.
"Strudel is the sweetest animal we have ever met," Horton said in an email. "She is calm, friendly, loves to play, snuggle, and walk, and is well-trained ... Think gentle giant (though not so giant anymore!!)"
Horton said that after losing about 25 pounds so far, Strudel is already a more energetic dog. In fact, Strudel had to leave her first foster home because shedding the weight made her a little too energetic around another family pet.
"She had lost enough weight that she was fast enough to antagonize their cat so she came to us at the end of August," said Horton.
While Strudel's cat-chasing tendencies are now apparent, Horton said Strudel loves other dogs and would do wonderfully in a home with kids who could "keep her activity up." Aside from that, Horton noted whoever adopts Strudel will have to commit to a regimen including special foods and lots of exercise. Her joint problems make it tough for her to take the stairs, so a home where that's not necessary would be ideal, and vets will soon evaluate Strudel to see if she's suffering from any internal medical issues related to her weight.
But, Horton noted, Strudel's already been triumphant at overcoming a major challenge ― losing weight ― and that's allowed her to get back to living a much more normal dog life.
"She is a miracle of a pup so far," Horton said.