‘Horribly Overweight’ Dog Discovers Hiking and Sheds the Weight with Her New Human

The following story was a finalist in the Tales of Summer Tails Photo and Story contest. The top three finishers received $500 in cash, as well as $2,000 in cash and supplies for their favorite shelter. To read more stories, click here!

Berkeley was adopted at age four. She had recently been returned to the shelter after her elderly person died. Berkeley was sad and horribly overweight. No one would have imagined what a vibrant, strong, wonderful dog was waiting inside under all that weight!


We started hiking on the way home from the shelter that very day. At first, she tired quickly and didn’t understand the outdoors. The heat of summer (it was May) was already oppressive, and all she wanted was to return to the vehicle.

She wouldn’t eat for the first three days in her new home. She had a nice cool room and slept in the bed with me. During the day, she had a water dispenser and a covered patio for shade with a nice fenced yard to play in. Each week, we went hiking at the local trails.


The third trip out, the dog really came to life! She began to trot and explore off leash and sniff everything and play in mud puddles and become a real dog. She was eating healthy and becoming very happy. Her weight was improving drastically.

Soon she was zooming up high bluffs that still seem impossible to me. We explored various other camping areas and hiking trails. In the second year, we started spending several days at a time at a local campground where a small creek flows. There is nothing she likes better than running in the water and wet sand!


Aside from a healthy, leaner dog, there was also a fabulous personality hiding in Berkeley. She is the sweetest, friendliest dog I have ever known. She is even kind to cats and squirrels! When the weather is nice enough for everyone to come out, she really enjoys meeting other dogs at the local dog parks. She often gets comments and questions on her special Double-H harness. Berkeley was very skittish and alarmed by sudden noises at first and she easily pulled out of regular harnesses. She is getting more confident as time goes by, but the Double-H makes it a lot safer for us to be out together.

Though we prefer cooler weather because we are able to get a lot more exercise, we have found ways to enjoy summer, as well. We live in the South in the USA and the humidity is overwhelming. It is too hot to camp most of the summer. We do stick to our hiking trips because it is a lot cooler under the shade of the tree canopy. We carry plenty of water.


When it is absolutely too dangerously hot, or when it has been raining for days, we have to find other ways to get some healthy activity. Last year Berkeley discovered shopping! We have a list of pet-friendly stores and we visit them regularly. Her very favourite place to shop is Lowe’s Hardware, and I really think she should get a blue vest and be their official mascot! Everyone loves her there. She gets petted by all kinds of people, all ages, races, sizes, and genders. The extra attention makes her really happy, and I am so proud of her. We always end our shopping trips with a tour of the outdoor garden section where she likes to sniff plants.

This story was submitted by Leigh Reeves in support of Brookhaven Animal Rescue League. To read other stories from the Tales of Summer Tails Photo and Story contest, click here!

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