When Meredith Wille saw an adorable pug and beagle mix named Bertha on Facebook, she wanted to adopt her right away.
Wille, a 49-year-old licensed veterinary technician and certified canine fitness trainer and rehabilitation practitioner, told People her reaction to first seeing the photo on the social media platform.
"It was just this horrifying picture of this ridiculously fat puggle," Wille explained.
“I have a lot to offer dogs that are injured and overweight, so I thought ‘How can I not help this poor dog?” she added.
Now she “knew it was going to be a long haul” to get Bertha down to a healthy weight but wanted to help her. Wille reached out to Stark County Humane Society in Louisville, Ohio, where Bertha was staying to foster the dog.
After reaching out to the shelter, Wille offered to pay for the dog’s rehab cost. A week after applying to foster Bertha, the puggle arrived at her new home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“She was like Jabba the Hutt,” Wille said of her first impression of Bertha. “She’d take three steps and have to lay down.”
When Bertha arrived at Wille’s home, she planned a weight-loss plan of high protein, low-fat food, and low-calorie treats. Every two weeks, Berta would have underwater-treadmill sessions at Steel City Canine Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine.
Bertha was adopted in November 2019. By summer 2020, she had lost 20 pounds. Because of her obesity, she had surgery to repair the collapsed thrones in one of her back ankles.
“That was a game-changer,” says Wille. “She became very mobile.”
Wille shared that she was keeping her sweet little pup.
Bertha’s owner says that she is easy to love and has become a beloved employee at Steel City Canine Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine.
“My clients are upset if Bertha’s not at the clinic,” says Wille. “Sometimes she’ll come up and sit next to a dog while they’re getting treatment. She’s like, ‘I’m just here to hold her hand, it’s all good.’”