Weight Loss with Whistle: Beep Beep Jeep’s Journey
Even though Kenneth and Cameron had no immediate plans to adopt a dog, the couple often scrolled through the adoption profiles on the Muttville Senior Dog Rescue website to delight in the photos and descriptions of the adoptable senior dogs.
“They are so deserving of love [and] you get to spend the golden years with them,” says Kenneth. “It’s as if they can sense that they are getting a new beginning and are thankful for it.”
The first time they saw a photo of Beep Beep Jeep (BBJ), a 13-year-old Chihuahua who landed in rescue when his owner could no longer care for him, the connection was immediate.
“It was love at first sight,” Kenneth recalls. “I could not get him off my mind after I saw him. When you know you know.” The couple adopted BBJ from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco one year ago.
Although Kenneth and Cameron grew up with dogs, this was their first pet together; they enjoyed bonding over his care and watching their once-nervous Chihuahua start to feel comfortable and loved in his new home. But there were a few hurdles to overcome.
For starters, BBJ tipped the scales at 25 pounds, which is a big number for a little dog. His target weight was 15 pounds. For dogs, even being just 10% overweight can decrease their lifespan and predispose them to health issues like heart, kidney, and liver disease, arthritis, and cancer.
“A lot of daily activities such as moving and eating appeared painful,” Kenneth recalls.
Being overweight didn’t just affect BBJ’s mobility; it also put him at risk for anesthesia complications, which meant Kenneth and Cameron had to delay treatment for painful dental disease. The goal: Help BBJ lose at least 10 pounds so he could get the veterinary care he needed to thrive in his golden years.
Kenneth and Cameron learned about the ways Whistle devices could help overweight dogs from an ad on social media. They purchased the Health 2.0 Smart Device to start tracking BBJ’s diet, exercise and weight loss. At first, friends made fun of a “big boy with a fitness tracker” but his dads were undeterred.
Establishing a plan
To make sure that BBJ stuck with his new weight loss plan, Kenneth and Cameron used their Whistle device to monitor his food intake. They kept detailed accounts of his calorie intake, adjusting the size of his daily meals as his weight loss progressed.
Kenneth and Cameron also discovered that Whistle was the best way to track their dog’s activity level. At first, BBJ would growl and snip when they put his harness on, which Kenneth believes may have been because his weight made walking uncomfortable.
The gamification element incorporated into Whistle devices helped keep them motivated. Kenneth believes the streaks feature, which awarded virtual badges when BBJ achieved his activity goals, was especially helpful for ensuring the dog got enough exercise.
“We would get up to make sure he always met his goal before bed,” he says.
Kenneth admits that the changes were so gradual that it might have been hard to miss progress without the Whistle device. The tracking device helped the couple recognize some big steps, including the fact that BBJ went from struggling to walk a few blocks to adding distance.
“We can now see that he walks further, faster than in the beginning,” says Kenneth. “The first time he walked four blocks to the park was a big victory.”
The ultimate goal for BBJ was weight loss, so Kenneth and Cameron weighed their senior pooch every Sunday. As the number on the scale went down, BBJ’s comfort and happiness went up.
“In the beginning he would try to run away from us when the leash came out,” Kenneth recalls. “Now he is happy to go on walks.”
BBJ had his first dental procedure when his weight reached 18 pounds. He’s had two additional dental surgeries over the past year and it’s helped him feel much better.
“We saw a major boost in his vitality once the bad teeth were gone,” Kenneth says. “He had really heavy crusted tear stains as well [and] those went away when the infections in his mouth were cleared.”
Losing weight not only allowed BBJ to have much-needed dental work done, it also led to other improvements in his health.
When he was overweight, BBJ had a reverberating snore and the Whistle device showed that he had multiple sleep interruptions every night—and the loud snoring woke his dads up, too. Weight loss improved BBJ’s sleep and gave him a new lease on life.
BBJ is much more active now. The Whistle device has recorded him playing, which never happened before he lost weight. Kenneth notes that BBJ is more pleasant toward strangers and eager to spend time with his dads.
“He even sometimes runs; the other day he jumped up on the couch for the first time and we gasped!” he adds. “In the case of BBJ, we really saw some reverse aging, so he could be a puppy again any time.”
A bright future
Even though BBJ has lost 40% of his body weight and reached his goal weight of 15 pounds, Kenneth and Cameron continue tracking his food, weight and activity with the Whistle device. Their goal is to stay accountable to make sure BBJ maintains his good health.
The process has led to some unexpected outcomes. The friends who teased BBJ about being a big dog with a small fitness tracker have started admiring his new, sleek physique and asking about the secrets to his weight loss.
Helping BBJ lose weight and start living his best life has also been a bonding experience for Kenneth, Cameron and BBJ.
“It’s been a really wonderful experience to care for someone else and see him do better [and] it’s a much more meaningful endeavor than anything else we could have spent time on,” Kenneth says. “I’m sure BBJ wishes he could have lounged and eaten a bit more, but I’m pretty darn sure he feels better now…[and] it’s much more fun for everyone now that he is more excited to go out and be active.”