Lu-Seal was abandoned at 9 years old, weighing 16 pounds (chihuahuas aren’t supposed to weigh more than 8). She was barely able to walk and had arthritis in her knees with bilateral torn CCL ligaments, meaning her back legs were painful and unstable. She came in as a stray, so the shelter named her Lu-Seal because in her morbidly obese state she looked like a spotted seal.

Julia and Lu-Seal

I didn’t intend to adopt her when I went to the shelter. I was looking for a medium or large sized dog, but her picture on the website was so silly-looking that I asked to meet her. It was love at first sight. She would cheerfully waddle up to you, collapse into a heap, and open her mouth in big grin. I still wasn’t sure I was ready, so I told the shelter I would think about it. While I was walking away from her kennel, she just sat there with a huge smile on her face staring back at me. I think she knew I was going to adopt her before I knew it. I texted some pictures to my mom, talked on the phone, and by the end of the conversation we knew I’d found my soulmate. I didn’t even make it out of the parking lot.

In order to adopt her, I had to meet with a vet to discuss her medical needs. She was on antibiotics, as she had contracted kennel cough, as well as medication for her arthritis. They impressed on me that the most important thing for her would be weight loss. She’d already lost 2 pounds during her month in the shelter, but she still had 6 pounds to go and it would be a long and hard road.

A before and after of Lu-Seal's weight loss

As a people-doctor, I know too well how difficult weight loss can be for my patients and the devastating effects obesity has on the body. I made Lu-Seal’s health my mission. She’s on a strict 250 calories a day. I got the FitBark because I wanted to make sure that she was getting the exercise she needed. Sometimes when we’re close to her goal, the FitBark inspires me to spend a few extra minutes playing before we go to bed or to take her out for an extra walk in the evening.

It’s been amazing to see her progress. She’s gone from being in the bottom 20% of chihuahuas, to being right around average in terms of her activity level. I never thought we would do steps, but she can take three flights of stairs at a run now. It’s been such a rewarding process for both of us and I hope we can inspire other people to help their dogs get healthier as well.

Lu-Seal running through the leaves

[Editor’s Note 07/2022: Lu-Seal has crossed the rainbow bridge since this post was written, but you can still follow Julia and her pups at]