At 51-years-old, Eric O’Grey was told by a doctor that he should buy a funeral plot because he would need it in five years.
O’Grey, who shared his story with the Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) initiative Mutual Rescue which made it into a short film, said he weighed 320 pounds, suffered from Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. He was also losing $1,000 a month to pay for his medication.
He decided to take action on his situation and visited another doctor to help him with his obesity. O’Grey got a recommendation that he did not expect—get a dog.
O’Grey went to his local shelter in San Jose, California. He said he specifically asked for an obese, middle-aged dog so that they could have something in common.
He ended up with Peety. The dog forced him to go outside and become more involved in society. He started off by walking the dog everyday for half an hour. Over the year O’Grey lost 140 pounds, while Peety lost 25.
“We really have formed an inseparable bond and one that I’ve never really experienced with another animal or anybody,” he said in the film about the dog.
Peety also motivated him to continue his healthy habits. “He looked at me like I was the best person on the planet, and I wanted to become the person he thought I was,” he said.
O’Grey said he no longer has Type 2 diabetes and that Peety taught him “absolute loyalty” and gave him “unconditional love.”
“The entire process brought me out of my shell and made me a different person,” he said.
Peety also had a transformation. He was once a dog that no one played with, suffered from arthritis, and rashes. Through O’Grey, Peety became a proud dog.
Peety passed away six months before the short film was made. “I loved him so much,” said O’Grey fighting back tears.
He said he is still not over the death of Peety, but he now has a new dog, Jake, who is now his running buddy. When the film was made they were both training for an upcoming half marathon.
— Humane Society SV (@hssv) February 15, 2016
The Mutual Rescue initiative lets people with stories like O’Grey’s share their experiences through their contest. The winning story will get made into a short film, like the one produced about O’Grey and Peety.
“It’s really about the transformation and the impact that animals can have on our lives,” said Carol Novello, president of HSSV.
According to the Center for Disease Control, pets can help fight against high blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and loneliness, and they also increases opportunities to exercise and socialize with other humans.