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Johannesburg - Forced diets and hours of exercise are not a joy for everyone and it proved no different for Hector, a once chubby Pretoria Rottweiler which was forced to cut down on its portions.
Heavyweight Hector, who become known as the Gentle Giant, weighed 83kg before the vet put it on a supervised weight management programme. So far, the dog has lost 25kg.
The four-year-old's weight loss earned it the title of South Africa's 2013 Hill's Pet Slimmer of the Year and its owner a R5000 prize.
Hector's owner Fanie van Schalkwyk said he and his wife Elize were to blame for the dog piling on the weight over the years.
“We are guilty of spoiling him.... We would give him a lot of food,” said Van Schalkwyk.
“We thought we were giving him the best.... Just like you would do for your child.”
Hector became the Van Schalkwyk's “baby” when their children moved out of home.
The animal would be fed all day, without consideration for calories and portions. The pampered pet would also lie around all day.
“He was just lazy,” said Van Schalkwyk.
The dog's slimmer waistline was accompanied by a personality change.
“Now he is just active. He can even jump into the car on his own while before he couldn't even get into the car. I had to pick him up. He is now a dog with life.”
But how exactly did Hector adjust to the new diet?
“We were advised to give him a specific time for meals and he was only fed twice a day. If he hadn't eaten after an hour we were told to take away the food because it meant he wasn't hungry,” Van Schalkwyk said.
When Hector did clear the plate, the dog would sometimes grovel for seconds.
“We would distract him by playing with him so he could forget about getting more food,” said Van Schalkwyk.
Games proved to be a suitable treadmill replacement. While Hector may get a doggy biscuit every now and then, Van Schalkwyk is keen to keep the animal in shape.
He says the proof of Hector's weight loss success is not in the pudding, but comes from plenty of exercise and eating well.