Obie the Obese Dachshund: The Saga Continues

Photo credit Facebook

In Part I of this story Obie was doing well under Nora’s care and the world was rallying to support him. He was becoming a celebrity of sorts and I, personally, was really happy to see the issue of pet obesity (especially Dachshund obesity) getting some real, relatable media coverage. He was safely losing weight, beginning to play with his doggy housemates and seemed to be doing well.

Then the Oregon Dachshund Rescue (ODR) came out of left field with a lawsuit suing Nora for custody of Obie with accusations of neglect and exploitation for personal gain. ODR’s accusations appeared to be anecdotal and not backed up with real fact (at least not to the public).

As humans will often do when emotions run high and facts run low, “facts” and motives are speculated and manufactured. There was an outcry in the pet community and ODR became vilified….FAST. People visited ODR’s Facebook page in droves to make clear that people thought what they were doing was wrong and that Obie should stay with Nora.

I watched online as ODR was ripped apart. Things got downright nasty on the ODR Facebook page. Previously negative experiences with Janelle, the President of ODR, was brought to light and were more fuel for people to rally behind the “ODR is evil” front. I watched as the local Doxie community was ripped apart. People picked sides, passionately expressed their opinions and friends were lost.

The ODR Facebok page is apparently ran by volunteers and Janelle doesn’t even read it. In fact, she apparently doesn’t have a Facebook profile (Gasp right? ha, ha). ODR volunteers managing the page tried to make a distinction between the PAGE and Janelle. They did not make a statement one way or another but tried to make it clear that is was Janelle, their president, who make the decision to file a lawsuit and not ODR as a whole.

They tried to draw a line between what was happening at the rescue and the lawsuit. They tried repeatedly pleading with people to stop all of the nasty posts (or the page would be shut down by Facebook due to profanity). They tried deleting the most negative comments – presumably so other people wouldn’t feed on that negativity. None of that worked and “hate posts” continued to come in.

Patricia, who had transported Obie to Nora and had initially suggested that a Facebook Page created for him, tried to clear things up by sharing her side of the story. People had already decided who was in the right and who was in the wrong and this letter only gave people more hate-spewing ammunition.

I was watching things for ODR, and the rescue community as a whole, go downhill fast. In my frustration, I sent ODR this letter:

To whom it may concern –

Hi. I have been following the story of Obie since the beginning. ODR has taken a real beating lately due to the custody issue. I DO have an opinion about what is happening now but that is inconsequential. I am posting here wearing my social media and branding expert hat.

No matter what your company’s intentions are, your brand is what people (your audience) say it is. Your brand is your companies “public face” no matter if the actions are stemming from one person or several employees. Your brand is what causes people to look at your company in a negative or positive light.

The fact is, it doesn’t matter who is in the right or wrong. A vast majority of your audience PERCIEVE that ODR’s actions are wrong and ODR is getting a VERY bad reputation. It is even drumming up people’s experiences with ODR from the past and ODR is being painted in a VERY negative light. People are saying they will no longer support ODR – both by word of mouth (which is one of THE most important things to a companies success – people who love you talking about you to their friends) and monetarily.

ODR needs to figure out how they can heal their image and “save face” here or ODR Doxies will be very negatively impacted in the future. If ODR is truly thinking only about the dogs action will be taken immediately to start to heal the relationship with your audience. I don’t know what that should be. Only ODR can decide what is the correct action but I highly suggest ODR contact a PR firm about this to come up with a game plan if there is no one in-house with these skills. I suggest you drop the lawsuit, come to a contractual agreement with Nora that works for you both and spend that lawyer money on cleaning up ODR’s image.

Sometimes it is not about about being right, but doing what is right. Nora may or may not be doing everything she promised but Obie IS losing weight and raising awareness for obese and rescue Dachshund all over the world. As evidenced on the Biggest Loser page, people have already been inspired to lose weight themselves and get their dogs healthy. I can promise that a lot of people will remember Obie and consider “saving” their own dog from a rescue the next time they are looking for one. This issue is so much bigger than, and reaches further than, Obie here in the Northwest!

This also is bigger than ODR. ODR’s actions are giving people a sour opinion of, and instilling doubt about, ALL rescues. We all know how hard those in the pet world are trying to improve the image of rescue dogs and shelters. ODR is hurting that for everyone and making the rescue community endure a big setback.

Mine is an unbiased opinion about what is happening and a mere plea to save ODR’s image (and therefore continue to do the good work you are doing) and the rescue industry as a whole.

Thank You.


A volunteer responded with thanks and said that was the first constructive feedback they had gotten on the issue. As they do not have money for PR, the volunteers rallied together and made some changes on the Facebook page themselves. I am not so vain to think that my letter was the reason they made efforts to turn it all around but I WOULD like to think I had something to do with it.

On October 29, 2012 Nora and ODR had their day in court. In his ruling, the judge determined that the custody of Obie was not clear and that he would stay with Nora for now.

On Nov 2, a final “we’re moving on” message was posted to the ODR Facebook Page. It is my impression that they deleted anything negative after that because things turned very positive very fast. They started sharing all of the positive ODR adoption stories people were posting on their page. Only supporters appeared on their page. Their page took on a very different tone.

On Tuesday, November 11th Nora reported that Obie was down to 60 lbs – a 17 lb loss over 12 weeks (or 1.5 lbs a week).

The fate of Obie is unknown at this time. In the judge’s ruling, he indicated that this battle will now go into litigation. I do know that things are still moving along because Nora recently posted about the burdensome court costs on the Facebook page and asked for donations to help with costs.

So what IS my personal opinion? Until there are more facts, I think that Obie should stay with Nora. He is losing weight and he seems to be very happy. ODR did not have the resources to properly care for him in the beginning and no changes in that regard have come to light. If they couldn’t care for him then, I don’t see how they can now.

You can bet I will be keeping a keen eye on what happens next and will be sure to let you know.

Photo credit Facebook


    • AdventureJess says

      That is part of the problem here….it is clear that ODR has a passionate reason for filing a lawsuit but they have been less than transparent about their motives and not forthcoming with facts. It leaves people to wonder just that….what is the problem? If people don’t see a problem then the actions of ODR seem frivolous.

    • AdventureJess says

      I think one thing that “we” can all agree on is that we want want is best for Obie. ODR’s actions have left people wondering if they are truly doing this for Obie or for selfish reasons.

  1. says

    Glad you were willing to reach out to ODR. These kinds of battles hurt a lot of people. But the dogs that could be helped are hurt even more.

    When I first read about the lawsuit, it appeared that a longer conversation between ODR and Nora would have headed off these problems. What if they had signed an agreement about how Obie would be supported? Who was legally responsible for him? Created a plan to manage money raised for his support?

    It also makes me worry a little when I foster a dog for my local SPCA. They can be pretty casual about things. When a dog is adopted from my home, I’m trying to track down someone on staff to make sure the person contacting me has actually been approved to adopt.

    Because there are no formal agreements and protocols for how adoptions from foster homes are to be handled, I’m always scrambling to make sure I’m doing the right thing.

    I work for a nonprofit too. So I know how easy it is to let things slide and assume things will work out in the end.

    But Obie’s story shows how nasty a misunderstanding can get.
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    • AdventureJess says

      Yes, with lose rules, everything seems fine until it isn’t. Complacency can be a trap and cause larger problems in the long run. I think this whole issue has make people and rescues more aware of what can happen when clear protocols are not in place. I hear there was never any paperwork signed between the original family, ODR and Nora.

    • AdventureJess says

      Thanks. I, as do most people involved, have the best interest of Obie and the other rescues at ODR in mind. I have feelings about this situation but without all of the facts I don’t feel it is fair to condemn either party involved. I was just watching a “bigger picture” train wreck and had to do something about it.

  2. says

    Wow … that could have been handled so much better. Both are wrong I think. But that is the PR person talking. Going to court makes all parties look guilty of something. That is just a human nature fact. It places questions in peoples minds. *sigh* sad really. Glad everyone is moving on. And more importantly glad that focus is back where it should be. On helping Obie … now.
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    • AdventureJess says

      Agreed and I am glad to have another “industry” person is who is objectively able to see the big picture here.

    • AdventureJess says

      Certainly a big compliment but probably more than I deserve. At least you got your full “insiders” perspective finally :)

  3. says

    I’ve been involved with Greyhound rescue for over ten years now, and one thing I do know is that a lot of times egos get in the way of people’s common sense and best intentions. I have no way of knowing what’s best for Obie, but I wish him well, no matter where he ends up. We fostered an obese Greyhound at one time, and I stayed in contact with her adopters. Unfortunately for her, the weight she’d carried for too long ended up causing severe spinal issues that eventually led to her death. The adopters did everything they could for her, but the damage was done, I believe, before I ever had her in my house. Obie has a long battle ahead of him and I hope that he keeps getting what he needs.
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  4. says

    I, like everyone else had their opinion about Obie’s condition and how he got like that. I could not imagine how anyone could “think” that feeding this dog like that was good for him. Learning that the owners had dementia certainly would be a reasonable explanation, but my thoughts wander towards others who were seeing this while it happen (family, friends, postman, etc). Someone did intervene and encouraged the surrender of Obie thank goodness, but the point about Judging is well put. I was angry when I first heard of Obie’s plight and it’s human to want to hold someone responsible. But maybe the lesson here is a cautionary tale of our own responsiveness to our pets and the pets around us. People sometimes find themselves in extraordinary situations, some in their control, some not. Our anger is only valid if it stirs us to action; how well an i doing with my pet? Does the lady across the street need my help in caring for her pet? SO what my friend feeds COSTCO dry instead of raw, she loves that dog and the dogs loves her. Do I know for sure if the problem is care and not medical? Your empathy can go much further than your uninformed judge, as I am grateful it has for me.
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    • AdventureJess says

      What a great and thoughtful comment! I can understand a very passionate reaction to Obie’s weight from people who care about animals and am glad that people care. But, like you mentioned, I wish that passionate energy would prompt people to think about their own actions and about people in their lives that may need help instead of “hating” on the owners. I know that most of those people just left nasty comments and then went back to the status quo. Like you, I DO wonder why no one stepped in earlier but we don’t have the whole story. Maybe the friend had been trying for a long time and it was just now that the owners were willing to give up the dog. Maybe these people don’t have any kids or many friends and no one had been inside their house or seen the dog for a long time. I CAN say that I am very happy that Obie seems relatively healthy despite this condition and his situation has brought a lot of attention to the pet obesity cause.
      AdventureJess recently posted…We All Judge!My Profile

  5. says

    Glad to hear Obie is losing weight, but so sad to hear how heated this got. I think the fact that the judge did not immedietly remove Obie shows that there is a lack of evidence of neglect(hoping that the judge had Obie’s best interest in mind) and the healthy rate of losing weight I think would support that. Unfortunetly the way the public handled this on the social network shows how often people let there emotions run wild, and how mean that can make a person.
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