SAN JOSE, Calif. — Sometimes, the best medication is a good friend; a loyal companion that can reinvigorate the zest for life. Six years ago, Eric O’Grady found that friend, and it changed his life forever.
Eric knew he was in trouble. His weight had topped 340 pounds, he was spending more $1,000 a month on medication for high blood pressure, and was suffering from type 2 diabetes. His doctor warned him he need to make a major change.
“My doctor told me to buy a funeral plot, because I would need one within the next five years,” Eric said in the video.
While seeking health advice, a nutritionist suggested that a shelter dog might help him become more active. Eric decided to give it a try.
He went to the Humane Society Silicon Valley and asked for an obese, middle-aged dog so they would have something in common.
That’s how he found Peety.
Eric and Peety went for daily walks at least a half-hour a day. Eric also started managing his diet. Over the course of a year, Eric lost 140 pounds. Peety lost 25.
But the walking wasn’t the only thing that changed for Eric. It was that companionship, that feeling he got from having a new best friend to keep him motivated.
“He looked at me like I was the best person on the planet, and I wanted to become the person he thought I was,” Eric said.
Eric got off all of his medications and no longer has type 2 diabetes.
The touching story of Eric and Peety’s journey was picked up by Carol Novello, president of the Humane Society Silicon Valley. Novello had been working on a project to highlight the impact that animals can have on their owners’ lives.
Novello developed the Mutual Rescue initiative, where people can share how a shelter pet changed their lives.
Eric and Peety’s video, which was posted in February, has gone viral online, garnering more than 20 million views on Facebook, and has helped spread awareness for Mutual Rescue.
“He transformed me into a completely different person,” Eric says in the video. “I think about it now: Who rescued whom? Did I rescue him, or did he rescue me?”
Mutual Rescue is still accepting video submissions for anyone out there with a story of how a pet impacted their life.
There are several animal adoption agencies and initiatives throughout the KC metro area.