Hefty Holly sheds two stones for hill walkies

WHEN Holly the black Labrador was at her very heaviest, her snoring would drown out the noise of her owner's television programmes.

Weighing in at a hefty ten stones, she was unhappy, uncomfortable and ill – the result of a lifetime of neglect and undetected medical problems.

After a year of intensive dieting, regular exercise and endless trips to the vet, however – resulting in a dramatic two-stone weight loss – she is to embark on a charity walk up Arthur's Seat, taking steps her owner Lesley Winton never believed possible.

Her weight loss has even spurred Lesley to get into shape herself.

The 44-year-old, from Tranent, said: "I often feel, because I am large myself, people think it's my fault Holly is overweight. I hear people say, 'That dog needs to go on a diet' and I just want to tell them her story.

"We're both trying to lose weight and she has certainly taught me a lot about myself and other people."

Life had been far from kind to Holly, aged six, until she was taken in by self-employed driving instructor Lesley.

Under the care of two previous owners, Holly is understood to have had at least five litters in as many years, being raised in a cage that was too small for her. She also had a skin condition that resulted in unsightly fur loss, affecting the entire length of her tail.

With an undetected thyroid problem, overfeeding resulted in morbid obesity, with her third owner admitting she could not cope with the expensive vet bills that were inevitably to follow.

Lesley said: "I had Holly for a weekend before I had to make a decision about taking her. I realised the number of problems she had and I knew there would be bills.

"Of course, I had to think about it, but I knew that if I didn't take her, she wouldn't get any better. I'd never seen such a miserable dog before – she would just hang her head."

Lesley, with the help of a vet, began getting Holly into shape. Her fur has now fully grown back and the pair take at least three walks together every day.

Although Holly still has about three or four stones left to lose, she is regularly admired by Lesley's neighbours who appreciate how far she has come in the last year.

She said: "It used to take her at least 20 minutes just to get round the block when I first got her.

"She used to be dragging so far behind me. Now she's pulling on the lead to go faster.

"At first, I couldn't hear the television for her snoring because she was carrying so much weight. It's all stopped now, though."

Holly and Lesley are joining other fundraisers on Sunday on a two-and-a-half-mile route up Arthur's Seat in aid of the Animals Asia Foundation. It works to close down farms in China and Vietnam where bears are cruelly reared for their bile – a traditional ingredient in Chinese medicines.

&#149 www.justgiving.com/hollysjourney

&#149 www.animalsasia.org