By Kenneth Miller
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Willy was born in upstate New York, but is currently living in Alphabet City with his adoptive mother. Each morning they watch LIVE! with Kelly and Michael while sharing in a bowl of dry Frosted Flakes cereal.
Willy, however, happens to be a Jack Russell Terrier-mix who should not be eating grainy cereal whatsoever. He, alongside approximately 36.7 million other dogs, falls under the 54 percent of canines that are obese or overweight in the United States. Weighing in at a whopping 36 pounds, Willy is about 15 pounds heavier than what is considered to be a healthy weight for his breed.
“He likes to eat what I eat,” Willy’s mother, Donna Cassano tells BTR. “You just can’t say no to these little guys,” she laughs as her not-so-little guy wobbles on over for another Beggin’ Strip.
Our inability to say “No” to our pound-packing hounds is perhaps the principle reason behind their gradual weight gain. They, like us, consume a vast amount of unhealthy foods daily, which at the end of the year, results in additional layers surrounding the mid-section.
However, because canines are of smaller anatomical sizes, they are naturally subjected to more health risks than a human. Similar to what the old ideology states: for every human year, a dog lives seven–the same principle may work with a dog’s weight.
Unlike Cassano, who doesn’t seem to think her six-year-old pup needs any fitness adjustment, hundreds of canine owners are Jersey bound, flocking to the Morris Animal Inn in hopes of amending their husky loved ones’ lives with the getaway’s famed five-day fitness camp.
Yes, a fitness camp for our four-legged fat friends; it’s exactly what it sounds like. Simply imagine the cast of the 90s cult-classic Heavyweights, spirited in dog form. Ben Stiller lulling around, mocking the campers as they flip-flop from one treadmill to the next, but instead of a lackadaisical outcome, you have tangible results.
By addressing the canine obesity outbreak with these nauseating, yet laughable fat camps, the Morris Animal Inn is potentially saving months to years of these canine’s lives.
The possibility of fat pups being diagnosed with diabetes, hypothyroidism, osteoarthritis, cardiopulmonary disease, or hypertension in addition to various types of neoplasia such as mammary cancer resulting from an imbalance in nutrition is quite terrifying–especially to dog owners.
That’s where Walter and Marianne Morris come in. As the co-owners of the Morris Animal Inn, they began offering the five-day fat camp extravaganza back in 2009 to rid owners of their canine health woes. They’ve continued to produce success stories to this day, offering camp sessions two or three times a year at a flat rate of $59 a day, or $249 for the complete five-day stay.
Forget the washed-out “take the dog out for a walk” idea. The inn has recently contoured some of man’s favorite workout regiments, creating an array of dog-friendly options available to our overweight counterparts.
“Pawlates” and “doga” enable man’s best friend to get fit while remaining chic and trendy. Then there’s “Barko Polo,” which is battled out within the inn’s pool facilities, allowing brotherly bonding among the hounds to occur amid exercise-induced slobber.
Photo courtesy of Joselito Tagarao.
Even the larger feline variety have been accommodated for as of late. Thanks to a Kickstarter account out of Camarillo, CA by cat-enthusiast Sean Farley, the first cat sized hamster wheel will be available for purchase as of August 7th. According to Farley’s fundraising page, the hamster wheel is not only beneficial to a cat’s physical health, but also its mental health. The contraption creates an environment where the mind is constantly stimulated thus depleting depression; leading a healthy, exercise-filled lifestyle is nearly inevitable.
A tune to which all domestic four-legged lovers can sing.
Back at the Morris Animal Inn, amongst their diet-positive regime, they offer two snacks a day to their temporary residents. The talk of the town yogurt veggie parfait is served in a martini glass, containing string beans, carrots, a rice cake, and bacon bits for a little added flavor. A garnished treat that many of the pup’s parents would have a difficult time denying.
From the sound of it all, these canines are living in the lap of luxury. With the added context of spa treatments, including doggie facials, available to the pups after intense workouts, it’s safe to say they are.
However, Cassano is still not sold on the idea of sending away her baby.
“Willy has me as his trainer and the NYC parks department as his gym,” she says. “I don’t think his health problems are anywhere near the point where I need to send him to a fat camp.”