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Muskegon beagle who was 96 pounds sheds 20 since adoption

Winston, formerly known as Rolo, weighed 96 pounds when he was adopted by a Mecosta County couple. Now, they're committed to getting him healthy.

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Six weeks ago, 13 ON YOUR SIDE introduced you to a nearly 100-pound beagle rescued in Muskegon County. 

He's since been adopted and has lost about 20 pounds. 

Rolo was originally rescued from a Muskegon County home after being found in a neglectful situation. 

He was adopted in August by a Mecosta County couple who are committed to getting him healthy. They chose to rename him Winston. 

Twice a week, you can find Winston on the underwater treadmill at Four Paws Rehabilitation in Mt. Pleasant.

"He's much more active," canine physical therapist Amy Barr-Tickle says.

Winston started physical therapy in mid-August. On his first day, he could only walk for two or three minutes going half a mile per hour. Now, he can walk on the treadmill for 12 minutes at the same speed. During most appointments, he does three sets of walking with a three-minute break in between.

"The benefit is we can put the water level up high, so it's close to a shoulder level, and that takes weight off of his legs and off of his joints," Barr-Tickle says. "And as he gets better, then we can start to lower that water level so that he's using more muscles in his legs."

She also does floor exercises with him, as well as laser treatments followed by a cooldown in an electromagnetic bed afterwards for his joints. 

Barr-Tickle hopes he can get down to 45 pounds by next summer.

"The slower the weight loss, the more it'll stay off. If you lose a ton of weight at first, then you put it back on," she says. 

His new owners, Michael and Karen Steinhelper, watched Winston throughout his Wednesday afternoon appointment.

"I think that he seems to really love the water," Karen says. "In fact, when he marches in, he heads right for this door and wants to go in there... He's really happy to do it. And he goes up there on his own now. Before, he needed a little help."

They adopted Winston last month from Pound Buddies Animal Shelter in Muskegon.

"When we got there, he just had the look in his eyes and he was just so loving and cute and handsome," Karen says. "We wanted to help another dog."

He's the third overweight beagle the couple has helped. His adopted brother, Duke, was taken in earlier this year, going from more than 100 pounds to just under 60 pounds. 

Steinhelper says Duke is so different since he lost the weight.

"He's very outgoing. He plays with our other beagles. He runs he can jump up on the couch now," she says. "He's a lot of fun."

They want the same for Winston, who the veterinarian says is about eight years old.

"He was very blunt when he said, 'If this if this dog doesn't start losing weight now, he's not going to be around very long,'" Steinhelper says. "We hope that we're extending his life so he can be a happy dog for a long time to come."

With 20 pounds down, he's well on his way.

"He just seems happier," she says.

Winston is eating special dog food plus green beans for his diet, and he's on thyroid pills to help with the weight loss, too.  

He and Duke are not alone in the house. They have four other beagle brothers and sisters as part of their family. The Steinhelper's regularly post photos and videos of the entire beagle brigade on this Facebook page.

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