Meet Walter, a N.B. dog that has unleashed new life by dropping 60 pounds

Click to play video: 'N.B. rescue dog thriving after dramatic weightless'
N.B. rescue dog thriving after dramatic weightless
WATCH: It took more than a year, but a nine-year old lab in New Brunswick now has a new leash on life following a dramatic weight loss journey. As Shelley Steeves reports, his slow transformation started with the help from a kind-hearted volunteer unwilling to give up on her new friend – Sep 7, 2022

When Walter, a nine-year-old Labrador retriever, was surrendered to Fulfilling Hearts rescue near Moncton last year, he weighed more than 150 pounds and struggled to even walk.

“He could barely make it across the street to go for a walk,” said April Saulnier, a dog trainer from Notre-Dame, N.B., who agreed to foster Walter and help him shed nearly half of his body weight.

Saulnier said she was taken aback when she first saw the big-hearted green-eyed yellow lab. “I was quite shocked. He was the largest dog in terms of being overweight for his breed that I have ever seen.”

Weighing 154 pounds at his heaviest, Walter was surrendered by his owner who was no longer able to care for him, said Donna Barnett, the director of Fulfilling Hearts rescue.

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“He was a well-loved dog. He was just too loved,” she said.

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Saulnier was determined to get Walter back in shape, one step at a time.

“We spent the next few weeks just giving him slow amounts of exercise,” she said.

She also changed his food to a lower calorie option that would help the struggling pooch purge some pounds.

When word spread in the community about Walter’s need to slim down, Saulnier said that volunteer donors from the community rallied behind him. “We were lucky people helped us purchase food as it was quite expensive,” she said.

Never once did he complain, said Saulnier. Walter was always willing to hit the road for a walk every time she grabbed the leash. She said he was particularly excited when he got strong enough to swim in the ocean.

“He loves the beach – it is pretty much his favorite spot. The first time we took him down there he ran down and laid in the water so it was quite cute,” she said.

One year later, Walter has shed more that 60 pounds, has a new lease on life and some spring in his step, said Saulnier. His overall health has also greatly improved.

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“He is a whole different dog. He does not act the same as he used to. His personality has changed drastically since losing all this weight,” she said.

With every step and swim throughout those many months, the bond between April and Walter grew stronger. “We could not let him go,” she said, having originally planned to only foster him.

Saulnier and her family decided to permanently adopt Walter, who, in the end, in losing weight, gained a new forever home.

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