When Jan Green’s loveable labrador, Deco, was put on a diet, she was determined he wouldn’t go it alone.
Conscious of the pounds she had put on since finishing work on health grounds, Jan decided to join Deco and together they’ve achieved slimming success.
Ironically, Jan’s 37-year-old daughter Kirstie, bought Deco for her as an early Christmas present in 2009 for her parents to encourage them to get out and exercise.
The 54-year-old from Allerton says after finishing work she became less active. She recalls her daughter bringing him home. “She told us it would get us both motivated to move!” recalls Jan.
The family had previously had a dog while Kirstie and her two brothers were growing up. Having a cat, they’d been reluctant to get another dog, but when the cat died Kirstie bought Deco – who the family named after one of the players in their favourite club – Chelsea.
Deco settled in well with the family and soon became spoiled with treats, but it didn’t bode well for his waistline.
“I would give him biscuits or a treat when I had a cup of tea and both of us gained weight rapidly,” explains Jan.
Deco was soon tipping the scales at 55kg while Jan’s weight had increased from 13 to 17st.
Jan says the reality check came when she took Deco to the PDSA PetAid hospital in Bradford with an ear infection. “They said he was overweight,” she recalls.
Staff explained to Jan about the annual Pet Fit Club competition. “I thought I’d better do. I didn’t want him to have diabetes or heart complaints and I thought if he is going to do it, I would do it with him.”
Crisps, biscuits and sweets which had contributed to their weight gain were banned as the pair embarked on their strict slimming regime in March.
Jan regulated her portion sizes and Deco had to settle for his ordinary meals instead of having additional scraps from the family’s plates.
“I cut down from an ordinary size dinner plate to a child’s dinner plate because I would leave things and he would have it so he had his ordinary food and whatever we left, a couple of Yorkshire puddings or whatever,” explains Jan.
Exercise was another element of their slimming success. “We started having regular walks again,” says Jan.
Walking up and down hills instead of staying on the flat also helped the pair’s weight loss. “Deco adapted really well. It took him a few weeks and then I realised I was losing some inches and that spurred me on a bit more.”
The pair had already started slimming in November before Deco joined the Pet Fit Club in March. By the time he had completed it, the pair discovered they had both lost 3st each. Deco is now a slender 36kg and Jan has dropped two dress sizes.
“I am over the moon, but I still watch what I eat,” says Jan.
“I am not going to put it back on,” she adds defiantly.
Jan is determined Deco will stay slim too. “Nobody gives him any treats. The only treat he does get is once a week when the grandchildren come they like to give him the yoghurt cup to lick, but it is a low fat yoghurt!” says Jan.
She says losing weight has been life-changing for them both. “It has changed mine because I have found it easier to move about now.”
Being an insulin dependent diabetic, Jan has also noticed significant benefits to her health. She says she doesn’t need as much insulin and isn’t as thirsty all the time.
Deco is also benefiting from his diet overhaul. “He has got more energy. You can throw the ball in the air and he will jump up and get it whereas he didn’t do that before. He really enjoys going for his walks,” says Jan, who is now keeping a watchful eye on Deco’s waistline.
“I keep getting the tape measure out and keep measuring him,” she says.
“And he goes to the PDSA every six to eight weeks to be weighed to make sure he is keeping it off.”
Jan says she cannot thank the charity enough for their help with Deco’s dieting. “It is marvellous the help and advice you get from the people at PDSA,” she concludes.
Deco recently received a special mention from the Pet Fit Club competition’s judges while mega moggy Fifi Bottomley was commended in the competition.
Eight-year-old Fifi was entered into the competition by owner Monica Bottomley. Fifi was a starving kitten rescued by Monica’s son Daniel who subsequently gorged herself to the degree where she tipped the scales at a staggering 9.3kg. Since embarking on the Pet Fit Club diet, Fifi is now a 7.3kg.
Says Monica: “Fifi is so much more active now and it’s clear she is happier.”
She also praised PDSA staff for their help and support.
Vet Nurse Miriam Wilson, from Bradford PDSA PetAid hospital, says: “This is a great success story for all concerned, and these owners have done a wonderful job in helping their pets to get down to a healthier weight. Pet obesity raises the risks of serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis, but these results prove that it’s never too late to improve a pet’s diet and lifestyle.”