“Obie” the obese dachshund? The “Biggest Loser” goes to the dogs

Far be it from me to stand in the way of pet obesity awareness, but I’ve had a hard time getting past this newest approach to pet owner education on the subject. In case you hadn’t heard, it’s to do with “Obie” the morbidly obese Dachshund and his ambassador status on the subject of weight loss in pets.

Obie’s obesity awareness media tour kicked off this week on Tuesday’s Today Show. His plight to become the “biggest loser” in the canine world is crafted to showcase our desperately pressing pet obesity problem. Which is undeniably a laudable attempt to raise the consciousness of all Americans on what’s arguably the most significant pet healthcare crisis in this country.

No one disputes the need for more “biggest losers” like Obie. I do, however, object to four minor points of order that I can’t just get past: 

#1 Obie’s weight loss goal is 2 pounds a week, which means he’s scheduled to lose over ten pounds in a month. That’s way over the nutritionist-recommended 5% weight loss per month. Such rapid weigh loss might not just prove problematic for Obie himself, but also for other owners who may become discouraged when their dogs’ “success” rates don’t match Obie’s.

#2 Obie’s ridiculous cuteness is a double-edged sword: Fat dogs are making a big splash in pop culture because we’ve come to regard them as adorable with all their blubbery rolls and whatnot. Obie’s outrageously cute appearance reinforces that sensibility even as his message remains outwardly otherwise.

#3 Can it really be safe to ask Obie to travel all the way from Portland to New York City and beyond? Given his extreme excess poundage, I have to wonder how he traveled. I’m sure it can be done safely with all kinds of concessions (a plane’s cargo hold is not a good option, for example). But still …

#4 Oh God, that name! I mean, would you ever name a cat with leukemia “Luke”? How would it go over if someone named a dog with diabetes, “D.B.”? Kinda crass and tacky, don’t you think? It’s disrespectful at the very least.

At some point I hope we’ll collectively recognize that obesity is a disease, not an opportunity to poke fun at the sick, televise cute overkill, or hawk another version of the same tired reality show that almost never actually helps anyone in the end.

I say they should let Obie relax at home and lose his weight in peace … and maybe think about changing his name to something sweet and hopeful, instead.


 Pic: "Obese little dachshund?" by yann.co.nz