WEEKS 7 to 8
Biscuits & Bath weight-loss program.
Starting Weight: 15.5 pounds
Girth: 18.1 inches
Cost: $650 (10 days at $35 per day plus $300 annual membership)
For two weeks, Lola will spend eight hours a day with sixteen other small dogs. “If she’s here every day, she’s gonna be pretty svelte just from playing with other dogs all day,” says manager Aaron Tropp. The overseeing veterinarian, Deborah Sarfaty, puts Lola on a daily schedule of three two-hour play sessions, separated by walks and rest time.
The Results: Unforeseen circumstances! Lola runs to a corner and lies down for eight hours, stirring only when handlers enter and she tries to escape. She doesn’t play with other dogs. “I think she’s losing weight from anxiety,” says Arconti. Meanwhile, Arconti and the staff don’t hit it off. She spends an hour dropping off Lola each morning, then calls throughout the day. Her overattentiveness is unappreciated by staffers. “This program might be okay for anyone less psychotic than me,” Arconti allows. Lola’s still fat, but firmer now. She learns to sprint, possibly from her many escape attempts.
WEIGHT LOSS: 0.1 pounds
GIRTH REDUCTION: 0.4 inches
WEEKS 9 to 10
A session with trainer Andrea Arden. Lola’s owner must follow her program for two weeks.
Starting Weight: 15.4 pounds
Girth: 17.7 inches
Cost: $150 per hour
Arden, who has run her own company for twelve years, arrives in Arconti’s apartment for a home visit, and promptly discards Lola’s food bowl. “Lola is going to become a hunting Chihuahua,” she announces. Lola has to work for her daily rations, which are hidden in four Busy Buddy food-dispensing toys scattered around the apartment. The idea is to keep Lola active during the day. Lola dives for the toys. “I’ve never seen her do anything so doglike,” muses Arconti. Arden teaches Lola “thinking” games, like puppy push-ups (lie down, sit, repeat), and oversees fifteen minutes of daily doggy running exercises in the hallway. Arden also teaches Arconti strategies to lengthen Lola’s walks.
The Results: Arconti is thrilled. “I am in shock at how smart she is,” she says. “I had no idea.” Lola’s walks increase to four blocks, and Arconti plays games with Lola while she watches television in the evenings. Arconti now refers to Lola as her “little Mensa hippity-hoppety,” a major change from “my little fat turkey.” Lola has progressed to—dare we say it?—chubby. The neighbors are impressed. “The normal people who make fun of her say she looks different,” says Arconti. “One blurted, ‘Is that the one in the bag?’ ” Lola now “runs” around, and Arconti reports witnessing one actual jump. She is on a permanent diet of limited dog food dispensed from dog toys.
WEIGHT LOSS: 0.2 pounds
GIRTH REDUCTION: None
A NEW LOLA (SORT OF)
Weight Loss: 1 pound
Girth Reduction: 1.6 inches
Total Cost: $1,400
The Results: After all this, Lola is still morbidly obese, and behind in her goal of losing two ounces per week. “A lot of her weight surrounds her heart, and the fat could exacerbate tracheal collapse,” says Chiaramonte. “She is also at risk for vaginitis caused by all the extra tissue.” Chiaramonte suggests that Lola continue her diet and workout routine, and Arconti could consider Slentrol if she stops losing weight. For now, she’s enrolling Lola in agility classes with Arden. “I think my little nugget is on her way to being less turkey and more Chihuahua,” Arconti says.