Most of you have heard of Obie the obese Dachshund by now. I first found out about him while I was on my honeymoon in mid August. Like any good Seattleite, I couldn’t stay away from the Facebooks for three whole weeks so I was surfing my feed in a Bar in Amsterdam’s red light district and stumbled across it.
Obie was a 77 lb standard dachshund who was overfed by his owners who had dementia. A friend of the family convinced the elderly couple to give up the dog because they could not properly care for him. The family friend contacted the Oregon Dachshund Rescue (ODR) asking for help. ODR recognized they did not have the resources to care for the dog so they put out a request for someone to foster him on their Facebook Page.
A woman named Patricia, who was associated with ODR in some fashion but not an official volunteer, picked up the Dachshund and delivered him to Nora. It is not totally clear when it happened but sometime shortly thereafter Patricia suggested that Nora start a Facebook page for Obie.
Again, it is unclear who actually did it, someone started a Facebook Page for Obie called the Biggest Loser, Doxie Edition around August 18th. Word spread fast in the Northwest Dachshund community. Once word got out about Obie (in a matter of a day or so it seems), Patricia and some other people suggested, or started, a donation page to help Nora take care of Obie.
The story of Obie continued to spread rapidly and fans started to pour in from all over the world. Comments left on his Facebook page said things like “he has inspired me to face the fact that my own dog is overweight and needs to go on a diet” and people said Obie inspired THEM to lose weight. Support for Obie’s weight loss journey and Nora’s efforts grew.
Nora said she never expected Obie and his struggle to touch so many people and for him to become a role model. She began to be contacted by newspapers and TV stations. She said she felt overwhelmed but was willing to “step up” to to be an inspiration to all and raise awareness for obese dogs everywhere.
Obie, Nora and Patricia flew to New York and Nora and Obie appeared on The Today Show on September 12th to share their story .
Then something went bad. On October 24 ODR served Nora with legal papers to get custody of Obie.
ODR claimed that Nora was not caring for Obie properly (he was safely losing weight by the way) and exploiting him for her own gain. Since Nora was fostering Obie, they claimed that Nora did not have any rights to him.
The problem was that ODR may have never had custody of him during the transfer so they might not have any rights to him either. Other complications where that Patricia flew to New York with Nora and Obie on one of the occasions he was potentially “abused” by flying in the pet cargo area and ODR was being accused of just wanting him back because they saw him as a cash cow.
ABC News posted an article about the custody battle on Oct 26th.
Come back tomorrow for Part II and I will share the court ruling as well as my opinion on the issue.