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San Antonio Woman and Her Dog Are Big Losers

The statistics on weight in the United States are appalling -34% of Americans are clinically obese, while 44% of American dogs are overweight. So Camp...

Julia Szabo  |  Aug 17th 2011


The statistics on weight in the United States are appalling -34% of Americans are clinically obese, while 44% of American dogs are overweight. So Camp Bow Wow, the respected doggy day-care giant, decided to do something to raise awareness of this serious problem. Launched this past June, The Camp Bow Wow FitnessChallengeis a nationwide initiative aimed at helping pet owners get in shape with their best friends.

The winner of the contest was Janelle Ruth and her dog Charlie of Clarkston, Michigan, who lost 14.02% combined body weight (18.5 poundsfor Janelle, and 8 poundsfor Charlie). The pair will receive a full-years worth of Camp Bow Wow services, valued at $3,000,plus withseveral other goodies.

But this column has a weak spot for the underdog (and for Texans on two and four legs), soallow us tointroduce you to the third-place winner:Debbie Burnip of San Antonio and her dog Harley (pictured above).

Together, this dynamic duolost 12.56% combined body weight in eight short weeks. They are big losers in the best way! They’re also livingproof that, when Dogsters tackle a challenge with our best friends as inspiration, there’s nothing we can’t achieve.

Debbie, an office manager,lost 52 pounds by cutting out dairy, sugar, wheat, andgluten,and adopting a mostly vegetarian diet that also includes fish. And although her friend Harley didn’t lose an ounce,he did become noticeablymore toned and fit thanks to thelongerwalkshe’s been enjoying with his newly trimmed-down owner.The five-year-old Maltipoo isalso a lot more upbeat; asDebbie explains: “The healthier I get, the happier he is.”

“I love the Camp Bow Wow we go to,” says Debbie, who takes Harley there five days a week. “I’ve tried losing weight for years, but this contest really motivated me to quit snacking and change my life. AndI know Harleyis so much healthier now that we’ve cut out table scraps from his regimen too.”

Debbie is grateful to Tamara at Camp Bow Wow and to her sister Anita – “They were huge cheerleaders,” she says – but her healthy, happy dog was the best motivator, anda real fitness coach.She confesses that she still has “at least 100 more pounds to lose,” andintends to maintain all the good habits she’s recently adopteduntil she’smet her goal. Only then will she let us publish an “after” photo!

In the meantime, Debbie wants to spread the word about how taking the lead from her dog allowed her to finally realize her fitness goals. She hopes others will be inspired by her life-changingexperience:”No matter what, you can do it -it really is possible,” she says, “and it’s so much more fun with your dog.”

“I dream of going running with Harley,” Debbie adds. “I can visualize it, and I know it’s going to happen.” Not bad for a Dogster who used to feel defeated after a three-block walk. Go Debbie and Harley!

Throughout this eight-week event, Debbie, Janelle, and their fellow contestants benefited from the expert advice of veterinarian Dr. Derrick Landini, DVM and noted weight-loss specialist Dr. Michael Snyder, author of Full: Life Without Dieting. Bothdocs postedvaluable workout and nutrition tips to the Camp Bow Wow microsite set up for this event.

Dr. Landiniand his staff were available for the sites Ask the Vet section, where contestantscould get answers to theirpet weight-loss questions, while Dr. Snyderand his team manned the “Ask the Doctor” area of the site, answering questions and offering online resources for exercise and meal planning.

It was a great opportunity to serve as a resource for contestants in an effort to combat the growing problem of pet obesity within America, said Dr. Landini. It was exciting to watch as the Fitness Challenge inspired weight loss in both humans and animals, which seem to have created long-term lifestyle changes for participants.

Adds Dr. Snyder, Working closely with the Challenge participants, I witnessed the transformation of individuals and their pets as they tracked personal weight loss goals. This initiative helped pet owners take control of the way they approach food and gave participants reasonable tools to help them and their pets succeed in living a full life.

The ‘Fitness Challenge’ has taught hundreds of owners the significance of simply introducing play and exercise back into a pets daily routine. said Heidi Ganahl, CEO and founder of Camp Bow Wow. It is wonderful to have watched this initiative unfold as [everyone]learned new ways to adjust their diet and improve socialization, which resulted in increased overall physical and mental health.”

Dogsters, has your dog inspired you to lose weight, firm up, or otherwise take charge of your fitness routine? Please share your experiences in the comments!