70-lb. Dachshund put on Biggest Loser-style program

Cue up the "pig in a blanket" jokes – a 70-pound wiener dog, a Dachshund named Obie, is going on a major diet to try to slim down.

The average Dachshund has a maximum weight of 32 pounds; five-year-old Obie (who used to be called AJ; we assume the "Obie" nickname is short for "obese" – aw, poor guy) weighs more than twice that, topping out at 77 pounds when new owner Nora Vanatta met him last month. (That's seven times what a Miniature Dachshund would weigh.)

His previous owners, an older couple, had to give Obie up because of their own declining health, but thanks to what must have been expert begging by the dog, they'd managed to feed him almost to death in the meantime.

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Vanatta first heard about Obie because she follows Oregon Dachshund Rescue on Facebook, but when she read his weight, she assumed they'd gotten confused about the breed. Nope: he's a purebred. He's also really lucky; Vanatta already owns a couple of dogs (a Labrador and another Dachshund), so she's experienced with canine care in general, and Obie's breed in particular. And she has a degree in animal science, and worked for eight years as a veterinary technician, so she's more qualified than most to supervise a wiener weight-loss regime.

Vanatta is trying to keep Obie's diet mission fun and optimistic; she's started a "Biggest Loser Doxie [Dachshund] Edition" on Facebook, so that fans can track Obie's progress (and maybe get help for their own portly pooches). The goal is for Obie to drop 40 pounds. It's tough sledding to start out with, however. Because he's so round, Vanatta can't take him out for walks, so for now she's got him on a special diet (a Purina rep helped formulate a low-fat, high-protein meal plan for Obie) and hydrotherapy to start melting the pounds away. Vanatta might incorporate a treadmill later on, once there's less stress on Obie's joints and bones. (All this stuff isn't cheap, as you pet owners can imagine; if you'd like to help out, Vanatta has a PayPal account to raise money for Obie's care. She's been quite touched by the support they've gotten so far.)

It's a job almost as big as Obie himself – but Vanatta thinks he's worth it. "He is extremely sweet and loving," she told the UK's Daily Mail, calling him "a joy to work with." And while she doesn't judge his previous owners for overfeeding the plump pup – "[they] just couldn't say no to those big brown eyes," she commented – she's hoping that her other dogs will lead Obie by example, and that Obie in turn "can be an inspiration to any person or animal trying to lose weight."

Obie's aiming for a weight between 30 and 40 pounds.

What's the biggest Dachshund you've ever seen? Have you had any doggie-diet success with hydrotherapy or a treadmill? What's your secret to keeping your hounds at a healthy weight? Let's discuss in the comments.

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