When Pam Heggie took in Kai — a 173-lb. golden retriever — he knew he was overweight for a dog his age.
“He was as big as a table,” Heggie observed after taking the pup in as a foster owner in her Edmonton, Canada, home.
Heggie met Kai met after the dog’s previous owners attempted to have him put down, but thanks to a local veterinarian who contacted the Misfits of Alberta Animal Rescue, Heggie was able to rescue Kai and provide the dog with a new home.
“This is the most overweight animal I have ever seen,” her vet told her upon taking Kai in as a foster.
Heggie, who recently appeared on Good Morning America, told the morning show hosts that the task of fostering Kai and helping him to lose weight was not easy — in the early days, it was taking the pup 20 minutes to get from the stairs of the house to the front door.
But with her vet’s reassurance, Heggie was optimistic about getting her foster dog back into fetch-playing shape.
“Anything you do is gonna help that dog,” her vet explained. “Anything that he will let you do is good for him.”
In between work and sleep, Heggie walked Kai three times a day: once in the morning before work, again after work and then a third walk before bed.
“Literally, he went five to 10 steps, and then he would lay down and start panting,” Heggie said on GMA.
But day by day, Kai would make more and more progress — moving the goal post a little further as he began to lose weight.
“We went to the closest neighbor’s driveway and then the next neighbor over,” she said.
Heggie took Kai’s weight loss regime a step further and had the pup do water therapy, which helped to strengthen his back legs and improved his energy, she told GMA.
Throughout the whole process, Kai grew to trust Heggie more and more as the two bonded over the course of that year. It wasn’t long before the foster mom noticed Kai lose pound after pound and come into his own as a happy, healthy dog.
“He learned that I was gonna help him and we were gonna be okay,” she added. “It’s crazy. It’s like raising your child and you look at them and they’re all grown up and you just wonder how that happened.”
“I look at him and forget how broken he was. Now he’s just a regular dog doing regular dog things like everybody else,” she tearfully told GMA. “He truly amazes me every day,”
In about one year, the dog has lost 100 lbs. — a feat that Heggie believes is an inspiration for both dogs and humans alike.
“He shows you how to do a really big task literally one day at a time,” she said. “He doesn’t worry about yesterday, he doesn’t worry about tomorrow, he just focuses on what needs to be done today and he does it. We can learn a lot from dogs.”