How a Dog Helped This Man Stop Being Obese
I was 51 years old with a 52-inch waist, and I weighed roughly 320 pounds. My social life was practically nonexistent—I hadn't been on a date in more than 15 years—and my medical expenses were creeping up to about $800 a month for cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes medications. I knew I'd die if I didn't do something. So I hired a nutritionist, who, to my surprise, told me to adopt a dog because that meant I'd have to go outside and exercise.
Initially, Peety was suspicious—in the shelter he gave me a sidelong look that said "really?" But I took him home, and we decided to keep each other. We went for walks twice a day, and in less than a year I had lost 140 pounds and my health problems were gone. Peety dropped all his extra bulk, too. Eventually we started running. Then I began training for marathons.
And the transformation wasn't purely physical. For the first time in my life, I had someone to take care of other than myself. To Peety, I was the greatest human being in the world, and I wanted to be the kind of person he thought I was. My mantra became What would Peety want me to do? My world—and my heart—opened up. I started volunteering at a shelter and gained more confidence in my job. I'm a sales rep, which wasn't such a great fit for a guy who was too obese to travel, but last year I took a great new position. And after being invisible for so long, I met a woman, whom I married in May.
This past March, doctors discovered a large tumor on Peety's spleen. There was nothing to be done, so we brought him home. I slept next to him at night because he was too afraid to be alone; he'd whimper when we turned out the lights. A few days later, I knew the end was near. I got down on the floor, and he quietly died by my side.
The bond that Peety and I shared was stronger than any I'd had with another being. And while I'm happy I found the dog that needed me most, I wish we could have had more than six years together. But they made all the difference: Today, my life is one I could've only dreamed of having. As it turns out, I wasn't taking care of Peety; he was taking care of me.