When a 9-year-old cocker spaniel arrived at the Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco last year, she was overweight at 40 pounds. Her name, “Cocoa Puff” seemed to be fitting for the dog as she was 15 pounds above her ideal weight.
Unfortunately, Cocoa Puff couldn’t really exercise because she had a medical condition called kennel cough. Because of this, she had to be isolated from other dogs.
Despite her condition, Cocoa Puff still has a ready smile and wagging tail for everyone.
Muttville volunteer Christine Falletti, 42, fell in love with Cocoa Puff the first time she laid eyes on the dog.
“There was this really, really overweight, really happy, ungroomed cocker spaniel,” Christine told TODAY. “We were not looking into adopting a dog but I really felt she was meant to be with us.”
Shortly after, Christine and her husband, Dominic, took Cocoa Puff home on June 15, 2018 — the cocker spaniel’s 10th birthday. Now called Penelope, her new owners vowed to help her shed the extra weight.
“You could tell when we first got her that she wanted to play and walk a lot, but she just couldn’t do as much,” Christine said. “She was happy, but she wasn’t healthy. She was so overweight I knew it would shorten her lifespan.”
On Penelope’s first week with the Fallettis, they consulted a veterinarian to develop a plan. First, the veterinary team checked Penelope’s thyroid to see if a medical issue was causing her weight issues. When they found out it was normal, a high-quality kibble was recommended and how much of it to feed to Penelope every day.
Quickly, she lost 7 pounds but then hit a plateau.
The couple then brought Penelope to a canine rehabilitation center to work out on an underwater treadmill once a week for months. The water provides buoyancy, relieving pressure on her joints. Her food intake is still under control.
Finally, Penelope reached her ideal weight of 25 pounds in under a year.
Now, Penelope is an energetic dog that fetches balls, races upstairs and leaps onto the couch to snuggle on the nearest available lap.
“She doesn’t know what personal space is,” Christine said. “I’m like, ‘I know you lost a lot of weight, but you’re still not a 5-pound Chihuahua!’ She’s just really sweet and really happy, affectionate and friendly. She’s brought so much energy and comedy to our family.”