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The Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

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Razz – aka Razzmatazz or Razzle Dazzle or RazzmatazzleDazzle -- is a seven year old Lhasa Apso, just shy of six kilograms. Her owners, Charlotte and Will Tataryn, say it’s important for Razz to stay at that healthy weight following major surgery in 2011 to remove eroded, arthritic bone on her upper leg. It’s just as important as keeping her active, something she started on right after the surgery. She became the “miracle dog,” amazing her vet by running like a carefree puppy in less than eight weeks after the debilitating surgery. It’s the second miracle in Razz’s life. Razz and a sibling, Barkley, were puppy-napped from a breeder and had to be rescued by police. Charlotte and Will saw her photo in the paper, fell in love and tracked down the breeder to buy her. Later, Will became a “treat sneaker,” Charlotte confides, but Razz’s scales ratted him out, and their vet gave a very effective pep talk about how unhealthy and unfair it was to sneak her treats. The Tataryns say they now know praise, appreciation and attention make great treats. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

Got a fat cat? A double-chinned dog? An obese bunny? A flabby fish?

Chances are you do, because, just like in the human population, there is a growing epidemic of overweight and obese pets.

Which is why we're launching The Fit Pet Project, a once-a-month series of articles in which we'll look at the issues surrounding portly pets.

We're going to be offering helpful tips and tricks to get your pet on the path to fitness, and I'll be sharing the trials and tribulations of my beloved wiener dog Zoe's own weight-loss journey.

Most of all, we want to hear from you. We've created a special email address -- fitpet@freepress.mb.ca -- and we'd like you to send photos of your pudgy pets, along with their names, ages and, if you're comfortable sharing, their current weight and target weight.

We're hoping you'll also share your concerns, advice, and the successes and challenges your pet has faced in their battle to shed unwanted pounds. Your stories can help motivate and inform other owners.

What's in it for you? For starters, we believe you'll end up with a much healthier pet, an animal that will be able to avoid the multitude of serious health risks that go along with being overweight or obese.

Prizes? Oh, yes, there will be prizes! The nice folks at Pet Valu, the sponsors of this project, are kicking in a pile of gift cards, which we'll be doling out by randomly drawing the names of owners taking part. And everyone who submits their pet's photo and information will get a copy of my critter-themed book, Bite-Sized Doug.

If you're a pet owner, we'd like you to join our pack. It's the best way to give your best friend a new leash on life.

-- Doug Speirs

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