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Happy Tails: Snowball (aka Mr. Big)

Happy Tails: Snowball (aka Mr. Big)

Snowball d1 headBichon Rescue Brigade rescued Snowball, AKA Mr. Big in October, 2012.   Buffy took charge of his intake and initial assessment.  This journal will serve to track his adventure through his rescue, his rehabilitation and, eventually, his happy adoption.


10/21/12 10/28/12 11/4/12 11/11/12 11/17/12 12/3/12 12/19/12 12/31/12
Weight 40.3 lbs 40.1 lbs 39.1 lps 38 lbs 37.1 lbs 35.5 lbs  33.2 lbs
Neck 15" 13" 13" 12 7/8" 12 1/4"
Shoulders 29" 27" 26" 24 7/8" 23 1/2"
Hips 25.5" 25.5"  24.5" 22 7/8" 20"


10/21/12 --- by Buffy

How about 40.3 lbs. of bichon!  Yes, that’s what Mr. Snowball weighed in at the vet today. I had no idea he was that big … and my heart breaks for him.

Snowball d1 bodyTalk about an education in dealing with obesity!  With humans, people look disdainfully at the person. With dogs, people still look disdainfully at the person with the dog … and boy did I get the looks today!  I found myself apologizing, explaining that he was a rescue. But how sad that through no fault of his own, this poor dog has to endure all the issues t hat come with obesity … shortness of breath, low energy level, difficulty finding a comfortable way to sit or sleep.  I took him on a walk with my pups and he barely made it around the block.  And yet, he is the sweetest, most gentle dog.  My heart goes out to him.

He has skin issues and his tail is totally hairless … possum tail, with a fatty base. Most of the hair on his bottom was shaved off due to severe matting & feces. He was so dirty that his color upon intake was listed as black/brown. Poor boy. They bathed him 3 times and shaved him down at the shelter, but his feet were still hard as steel-toed boots and lots of dry, flaky skin.  But no fleas!  His feet are infected between his pads, so we started him on antibiotics. He also needs antibiotic baths twice a week, and the first one I gave him this afternoon made a world of difference on his feet.  It removed a lot of the crust and the hair is actually soft.

Snowball d1 friendsI've started him on weight control food from the vet, with goal to get him down to 30 lbs. Ideal weight 20 lbs., but I think that’s a stretch goal!  We did a blood panel on him – they were offering a senior special – to see if he has thyroid issues or maybe indications of Cushing’s disease.  Call me crazy, but I feel this boy deserves a chance, even if we just find out what quality of life he can expect to have.  It breaks my heart … he wants to play with my guys, but doesn’t have the energy. Still, he hops a little and circles around them, tail a wagging!   He has my Brady’s face in a fat dog’s body … it’s like seeing your child overweight, yet seeing the possibilities.

Mr. Snowball deserves a chance to be the dog he thinks he is … playful, loving and active. He just needs some humans to help him get there as opposed to the ones who helped get him to the state he’s in today. Side note … he appears to be housebroken, which is good because he won’t fit out the doggy door.

And my Tucker’s self esteem is riding high, because he’s not the chunky boy in the house right now! 

I'm thinking of changing Snowball’s name as it doesn’t really suit him … actually, I just call him Mister!  He’s earned it.

10/26/12 --- by Buffy

My Perfect Pet has offered to help Mr. Big with his weight loss.  I talked to the vet today and Mr. Big does suffer from hypothyroidism.  So we are starting treatment for that and that should help with part of the weight problem. But it’s obvious this dog has never eaten dog food. … dinner time he goes to the refrigerator!  And he hates the dry food, I have to hand feed him.  That shouldn't be a problem with the My Perfect Pet food diet.  The biggest problem will be keeping my pups away from that special food!  I can't wait to see how he does on the food.

Mr. Big is the sweetest dog!  He LOVES walks and starts bouncing around and gets so excited … then gets pooped by the time we hit the end of the driveway!  But I take him anyway, we just don’t go far. I leave my pups at home, then come back and leave him and take them. He has not made a peep except to snort & snore … it’s like having another husband!  LOL!  He is housebroken and totally loves people, is cool with other dogs. This dog has such potential.  He's a gentle giant that deserves a new life.

10/27/12 --- by Buffy

Let the diet begin!  Mr. Big has no food allergies that I know of.  The Vet has him on ¾ cup 2x per day of a dry kibble. The food is 240 kcal per cup, so about 360 kcal total per day.  I discussed formulas with My Perfect Pet and we are going to try the Knight's Blend.  It's a grain free and poultry free and their lowest calorie blend at 336 per 8 oz.  The food is on it's way!

10/28/12 --- by Buffy

Snowball d7 walkingI took a few more measurements for Mr. Big today and I took him into the vet for an official weigh in. He’s lost 4 oz in a week, but I hope to improve on that with the hypothyroid meds. Even so, I see some subtle changes. He does not look so bloated and there’s a little (very little) shape around his ribs.


11/4/12 --- by Buffy

Snowball d7 bodyHere's another photo. Mr. Bigg has lost 2” around his neck and “shoulders.” And yesterday he did the entire walk around the block …even up the hill … with my pack and my friend and her dog. I’m worried about him, though. Yesterday he was reluctant to eat, ate very little and also threw up. He has been scratching at his ears. I gave him a bath yesterday with his medicated shampoo, and last night her chewed his back leg raw. I am trying to get him into the vet today, but may have to drop him off an leave him. I’m afraid there is something more going on. He already is on antibiotic for infection in his feet between the pads. And he started thyroid meds.

11/6/12 --- by Buffy

Well, Mr. Big has taken some steps forward, and a few steps back. I did get him into the vet Monday to get weighed, and he has lost 1.2 lbs. since we took him in two weeks ago. He’s also lost 2 inches each around his neck and shoulders. He’s still a big boy, but does not feel so bloated and tight as when we first took him in. Great news is that he is much more active. This senior that could not even walk half a block a couple weeks ago has walked with me & the pups up the “big hill” the last couple of days … and does the “short trip” around the block pretty easily. It is so heartwarming to see him able to move, as he truly loves his walks and starts hopping around when you go toward the leashes.

Setbacks … two ear infections and skin allergies that seem resistant to the “cheap” antibiotic, so we now have him on the more expensive line. But he managed to chew his back leg raw in about 30 minutes the other night, so he now has a cone on as well. He remains upbeat and sweet, so we continue to take it a day at a time. This also has resulted in a real loss of appetite …maybe the thyroid meds are contributing to that as well … and I can barely get him to eat the My Perfect Pet food, unless I hand feed (not always successful) or I crush a couple party bite treats on top. Am hoping his appetite returns when he’s feeling better. Sounds strange, since he needs to lose weight … but it needs to be based on good diet and food portions, not starvation.

11/7/12 --- by Buffy

Hey, he made it through the doggy door today!

11/11/12 --- by Buffy

Snowball d14 bodyMr. Big weighed in at 38.4lbs. today, down 2 lbs. since we first took him in. I picked up some “Snuggles” blend from My Perfect Pet at the pet store today and he gobbled that down. He was not liking the other blend, so was happy to see him eat this one. He took two long walks today with my pack and just loves to walk. He even did something today that resembled running! He is such a good boy!


11/13/12 --- by Buffy

Mr. Big is doing GREAT. He is moving to Carmen’s place this weekend and then up to Rebecca’s in Washington state to hang with her senior pack … and she’ll take it from there. He has come so far already, has such great energy now and is ready to start meeting some potential adopters.

11/17/12 --- by Buffy

Snowball d21 bodyLook at the transformation! He’s getting a waistline! I took him to the vet today and he is down 3.2 lbs! – 37.1 lbs. at today’s weigh-in compared to his 40.3 lbs. on day 1.  He's lost almost 5 inches around his chest!.  He was so bloated...ladies, we have done good work for this boy and I am so proud of him! 

What a difference in just 4 weeks!   If you could see his activity level and the pep in his step, you would not recognize the dog that first came to BRB 4 weeks ago. I even ran into a lady who lives up around the corner … she saw me walking Mr. Big a couple weeks ago and saw us today and she even commented that he looked so much better! What’s so noticeably different is the loss of bloat … he was hard as stone the day I got him. He went back in for a thyroid blood panel today and I will have results tomorrow. But I think the medicine is helping along with good diet. He’s even getting hair back on his tail!

Thanks again to My Perfect Pet for donating food for Mr. Big! I swapped the Knight’s Blend for the Snuggles Blend and he LOVES it! Of course, he’d make a meal eating their Party Bites if I’d let him.

Snowball reflectionMr. Big is going to be hanging out at Carmen & John’s house for a couple weeks. I cried like a baby when I left him, but I know he will get lots of love and attention from John & Carmen. On Dec. 7th, Mr. Big will be flying north to Washington state to hang with Rebecca Roberts and her senior pack.

He is a good boy and so deserving. He is sweet and loving and it melts my heart to see him jump around so excitedly when it’s time to go for a walk. This morning he lead my dogs in a howling litany … I came running from the bedroom to find my 4 sitting on the couch & Mr. Big on the floor, howling like a Bassett hound! It was hysterical! He rarely even barks, and here he was sitting there leading the chorus!

11/22/12 --- by Carmen

I just read Mr. Big's journal so far and it made me so sad to remember how he was when he first came. Buffy reported that he didn't have the energy to play or walk around the block, and even had trouble finding a comfortable way to sleep.

vidclipNone of that is true now that he has lost some weight!! He loves his walks, and goes further every time. He also insists on some time in the afternoon for a "bichon buzz". He starts moving from side to side and looking at me with a big grin. That is my cue. I start running away and say "oh noooo, someone is chasing me!" and he runs after me with a galloping stride and his big ears flapping. He can do this short run 10 times or so before he gets tired (or I do!), and he loves it. I got part of it on video. I will try to get some more.

At night he sleeps like a baby. At first he snored a lot, but now he is mostly quiet. Sometimes he sleeps on the platform dog bed next to my bed. But a few days ago we found out he had enough upper arm strength to pull himself up onto the big bed. He can get up and down safely using the platform bed as a landing. He sleeps just fine on his side, but this morning we were snuggling and he was lying on his back so I could rub his chest, and he had no breathing difficulty at all!

The allergies seem to be much better, too, probably as a result of the My Perfect Pet food (which he looooooves). He sometimes licks or grooms his feet, but has not been chewing at all.

He is coming out of his shell, and tried to beg for part of our breakfast this morning, with big sad eyes and tail wags (no results, of course). He lets you know when he wants something. I would say that he just seems really happy most of the time, and much more healthy. I think he's a very smart, savvy dog who can learn anything.

This was such a smart call, Buffy. It's what we're here for, right? John is definitely going to cry when Mr B leaves.

12/2/12 --- by Buffy

snowball buffyI was so happy to see Mr. Big yesterday … he looks great! He is getting hair on his hind quarters and his tail. Such an improvement from when we got him and he literally had “possum bottom.” At last weigh-in on 11/18, he had lost 3 lbs. and as much as 4 inches around his shoulders & hips. I’m sure it is even better by now, so I look forward to getting the latest weight & measurements. Regardless, there is no doubt that this is a different dog than the bloated, overweight, lethargic boy we took in almost 6 weeks ago. He has energy, he has purpose and he has such personality … what a joy he is and he truly touches the hearts of anyone who meets him. My vet was so sad to hear that Mr. Big is leaving the area, and made me promise to continue to provide updates on him.

Mr. Big travels to Washington state this Friday, and will be in the capable and loving care of Rebecca Roberts. Bec, you will so totally love this guy! Thank you again for taking him in under Bichon Rescue Brigade’s “Always Ours” plan … you provide the love & care, we cover his medical treatment for the remainder of his years, unless we get him adopted. Anyone willing to take him would get such a wonderful dog!

This photo was taken at the vet’s office. And I’m planning to go see “B” one more time this week before his flight up north. This sweet giant has touched the lives of everyone who has met him … and I will miss him.

12/3/12 --- by Carmen

Today Mr Big weighed in at 35.5 pounds. He has lost 5 pounds and 12% of his body weight! I took him to school with me, and everyone loved him so much. I took him out for a walk, and he was so energetic that I said, "Do you wanna run?" and I started jogging, and he jogged with me, up one side of the quad and back down the other. He is so full of personality. In fact it's probably just as well that he's leaving soon, because he is starting to manipulate John with his big sad eyes and pitiful vocalizations. I caught John giving him a tiny piece of toast this morning, so I hit John on the nose with a newspaper. Just kidding, but it shows how smart he is (Mr Big, not my husband).

12/6/12 --- by Buffy

Fingers crossed for a safe and uneventful trip For Mr. Big tomorrow. So sad to see this lovely man leave the area, but so thrilled for him starting the next chapter of his life where I know he will be loved. Thank you, Rebecca, for taking him into your loving care. And to Carmen, Lori and Deb and My Perfect Pet, who also have played such a role in his story. This is a special dog and I truly feel that we have been privileged to be a part of his life. He has touched us all, as well as anyone who has met him along the way. The transformation has been amazing and I know it will only continue to get better.

12/6/12 --- by Carmen

Mr. Big is all packed and ready to go. I am sending a weird little monkey toy that he seems to like. And his food, of course, which he loves. Rebecca, you will have your hands full convincing him not to run! Today I kept telling him, "No, be careful! slow down!". he is so full of life, it's inspiring. He will leave a BIG hole here in our little house, but I look forward to reading about his adventures in lovely Washington state, where the grass is greener than here, and the wine is excellent. Please send photos. John is going to be moping around for weeks, I know. He really wormed his way into our hearts with his big brown eyes. He's smart too! (I mean Mr Big, not my husband.) But Rebecca, I told Buffy that I think of this as a way of thanking you for all you have done for dogs over the years, to send you up this total love sponge angel dog. So that makes me feel better! I will post tomorrow when I've got Mr. Big loaded on his flight.

12/7/12 --- by Rebecca

Sounds good! Every little soul has come into my life for a reason and they have left their marks within my heart! Just like my sweet little Heidi that I had Buffy send to me two years ago!

12/7/12 --- by Carmen

Mr. Big is on his way to Olympia. Weather here was clear and sunny (as usual). The pilots really loved him, and everyone fussed on him a lot. He is an easy going, house-trained, loving, smart, expressive dog. You will enjoy him. Thanks for giving this special boy a home!!

snowball barrel12/11/12 --- by Rebecca

Mr. Big is settling in. It has taken him less than 3 full days and he has discovered and snagged a barrel bed ! Ha ha  



snowball sleeping12/13/12 --- by Rebecca

This is how he goes to sleep at night ha ha. It is currently 32 degrees outside and our high today was only 34. Since he is from So Cal, we have to keep him warm at night. He doesn't move from that spot all night either. He is such a good boy! He acts like he was born and raised in this house :-)

snowball soaking12/16/12 --- by Rebecca

Here is our boy getting an epsom salt soak for his feet. In between his toes and on his tummy and penis he still has embedded black dirt. Looks like black head pimples, but it is dirt. What in the heck was this poor boy living in, on or through? His skin bleeds if even rubbed too hard. I am taking him to my vet this Tuesday for meet n greet and skin evaluation, etc.   He is a momma's boy but right now he is not very happy with me, he didn't enjoy the soak or the bath today. Poor baby :-(

snowball andpal12/19/12 --- by Rebecca

Mr. Big visited the vet yesterday. His weight was 33.2 pounds. I had his lab drawn and the vet called this morning and reports that the results are great! His liver enzymes are back to normal yay! His thyroid was 2.4 and with 4 hour post pill should be higher but it is ok. She does recommend rechecking thyroid in 3 months and he is cleared to have his dental performed. I have scheduled his dental for 1-21-13. She believes that his dry and fragile skin issue is due to both recovering from the bacterial infection and the untreated hypothyroidism. He does have seborrhea on his tummy and in between his toes. She recommends that I continue with the medicated baths and conditioner and leave on lotion once a week. So I now have two boys with skin issues to bath and treat weekly. ha!

He continues to do very well. He actually plays with my some of my gang! He is very much a mama's boy and wants to sit in my lap and be held quite often. He does have a very gentle and loving soul and I am so glad that you saw through the dirt and saved this lovely boy.

snowball banda sm12/30/12 --- by Rebecca

Here are some Before And After shots of the progress Mr. Big has made.

Click the photo to see a larger version of the images.