Part pig, part seal, part dog and all precious, Lu-Seal the dog is walking a little easier now thanks to an inspiring weight-loss journey.
The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pup belongs to emergency room doctor Julia Morley, who adopted the Chihuahua from Humane Animal Rescue in October 2016.
Morley went to the shelter planning to adopt a larger dog, but ended up with a small canine in a big frame.
Lu-Seal was 16 lbs. when she waddled in Morley’s home. Since she was living as stray before she ended up at Humane Animal Rescue, the shelter staff isn’t sure how the 10-year-old dog packed on the extra weight, but believes Lu-Seal had an owner who liked to overfeed her before she ended up on the streets.
Wanting to give her new pooch a good shot at a long life, Morley took Lu-Seal to the veterinarian immediately after adopting her.
“They suggested feeding her 250 calories a day. So I counted her calories and measured her food and counted her treats and started her on a strict exercise regimen,” the owner told PEOPLE.
It didn’t take long for the weight to start falling off, and as Lu-Seal lost pounds she gained mobility.
“At first she could only walk maybe a block at best and then would just sit down and give. But as the pounds fell off and she got fitter — now we walk about a mile a day,” Morley said.
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Lu-Seal also gained followers, too. At the start of her weight-loss journey, Morley created a Instagram account for the plump pup and kept track of her pet’s progress with weekly weigh-in posts.
Morley says she started @lusealdog because she thought Lu-Seal was a special creature, and soon realized others thought she was special, too. “People we’re really rooting for her. It was incredible.”
When Lu-Seal hit her goal of 8 lbs. in October 2017 many of her 12,200 followers turned up for her victory celebration at a Pittsburgh brewery.
Without any gimmicks — just through healthy eating and exercise — our 2018 Half Their Size stars shed hundreds of pounds. For more on their stories and weight loss tips, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
Now, svelte, active and social media famous, Lu-Seal spends her days playing in the park with her “big pack of dog friends” and using her Instagram account to help other overweight dogs find success.
“I get a lot of messages from people asking how to help their dogs lose weight and it’s fun to give other people advice and help them get through the process,” Morley said.
Lu-Seal is sticking to her resolutions in 2018. While she does gets a few more treats these days, she is still keeping to her 250 calories a day diet to make sure she doesn’t put her extra pounds back on.