WINNIPEG — At the beginning of 2015, Buddy was so morbidly obese he was unable to walk.
But with the help of friends who helped him cut back on the kibble, he has managed to lose more than 100 pounds this year.
Now the six-year-old Australian Shepherd is fit and healthy and looking for a new home through Hull's Haven Border Collie Rescue in Winnipeg.
Officials with the rescue group say Buddy used to belong to an elderly couple who showed him their love through giving him food — way too much food.
When they could no longer care for him, the couple surrendered him to the rescue group.
Fearing he could have a heart attack, volunteers with Hull's Haven helped Buddy work his way from 180 lbs. down to 71 lbs.
"I just couldn't believe the size of him. I had seen pictures and video, but it wasn’t the same,” said Angela Hand, one of Buddy’s foster parents and a vet technician at Stonewall Veterinary Clinic.
"He could barely walk four or five steps without his tongue turning purple. He couldn't walk very much."
Buddy was put on a diet of specialty food and had his treats restricted to things such as cucumbers and tomatoes.
When he was finally able to start walking, things moved slowly.
"There was a lot of frequent stops. He'd make it like five feet from the deck and he'd have to stop," said Samantha Gagnon, another of Buddy's foster parents.
But each week, he would diligently weigh in at the vet, making progress in three-pound increments. A few months later, Buddy was running with other dogs.
All these milestones were shared on the Facebook page, “Buddy’s 180 Story: A New Leash on Life,” where supporters from across North America cheered him on.
By November, Buddy had lost enough weight to undergo skin removal surgery.
"He had a big lump of skin that would hang down (his backside),” said Hand. “It caused him a lot of discomfort, even with running.”
He's close to his goal weight of 65 lbs. and is now officially up for adoption.
“He’s a very cuddly dog. He likes car rides. He likes other dogs. He just doesn’t like cats,” said Hand.
While Buddy’s case is extreme, pet obesity is not unusual.
"In the vet clinic, I see a lot of overweight dogs," said Hand. "A lot of times, people just don't know what they're feeding, how much they're actually feeding their dog, and how much exercise they need."
The Canadian Press