A PODGY pet was put in the doghouse – for making his young owners late for school.
Foster, the golden retriever, was taking so long to walk the half-mile journey from home in Whelley to St Catherine’s Primary School that was sent to see the head after being blamed for red marks in the attendance register.
When the eight-year-old gentle giant stood on the scales he weighed in at 57 kilos – twice the size of a trim adult.
Vets decided that his imposing weight was putting such strain on the joints of his four legs he was having increasing difficulty making the daily school run with owner Michelle Halliwell.
Now he has been put on a strict diet so that he can get Sam, four, and 10-year-old brother Jamie Halliwell, back in their teacher’s good books.
That means absolutely no more slices of cheese – his favourite treat.
In two months of calorie-counting, his health and vigour have already returned spectacularly.
They knew he was piling on the weight – but Foster’s constant begging for snacks kept getting the better of them.
Mrs Halliwell said: “I walk the kids to school every morning to give them and Foster some exercise, but he kept making us late.
“He was getting slower and slower and, towards the end of the year, it was almost a case of having to drag him there because he just kept stopping.
“It was a bit embarrassing saying sorry to the teachers for us being late every morning and then have to blame the dog, but it really was his fault and if you didn’t take him he would really sulk all day.
“He loves children and when he does finally get to school he is always the centre of attention, everybody makes a beeline for him and comes over to stroke him.
“In fact he was making other children late as well as they were hanging around waiting for him to arrive before going in.
“The transformation since he has been on this diet is amazing. At one stage he could only manage the walk to school once or twice a week. But now he is doing it every day again and now we are getting there on time.”
His vet Dr Shams Mir, at Wallgate’s Anrich Veterinary Hospital, said that pet obesity leads to bone and joint disease, heart and lung problems and serious conditions like diabetes or cancer.
When Foster arrived he was holding his right hind leg completely off the ground and effectively “shuffling” on his three legs.
X-rays revealed marked arthritic changes on his knees and abnormal remodelling of his hip joints – all hallmarks of excessive weight.
Dr Mir said: “After checking through blood tests that his liver, kidney and other organs were functioning normally, he was put on a course of anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medication.
“But, more importantly, he was advised a prescription diet to help scale down his weight gradually.
“With determination and perseverance of the Halliwells, Foster is gradually losing his pounds and the whole family is gaining back their pace.
“We need to change the way we feed our dogs and our love for them should not be mediated through more food and treats but through spending more time playing with them outdoors.”