When senior Emma Abbott received a message last year asking if she wanted a free dog, she never expected she would meet her new best friend.
She also never expected she’d have to take that new best friend on a unique weight loss journey.
Gretchen, a dachshund who turns 12 years old in March, is also referred to as Gretchen Wieners, after the iconic “Mean Girls” character. When she first came to live with Abbott, she weighed approximately 30 pounds, definitely overweight for a weiner dog.
For the first part of her life, Gretchen lived with the grandparents of Abbott’s friend from high school. After the grandfather passed away and the grandmother moved into a new condo where she couldn’t take Gretchen, the search was on for someone willing to take her in.
Abbott and her roommates, who are all dog lovers, jumped at the opportunity to help her out.
“The three of us absolutely fell in love with her,” Abbott said.
In her first home, Gretchen was often fed food from the table. When her owner had a sandwich, Gretchen had a sandwich. Abbott immediately knew she would need to help Gretchen lose weight to ensure she was living her healthiest life.
“We put her on a diet, we walked her, we learned that she loves tennis balls and fetching, so she went from almost 30 pounds to now ... [about] 20 pounds,” Abbott said.
Abbott takes Gretchen for walks around campus and in Hueston Woods and tries to limit the number of treats that she eats. Overall, her weight loss has been a success.
“The vet said we did amazing and for how small she is, and for how much weight she’s lost, she’s at a good point.”
To help document Gretchen’s weight loss journey, Abbott created an Instagram page, @gretchenweinerstheweinerdog. The page, which started in Sept. 2019, has more than 170 followers and includes weight updates and pictures of Gretchen’s progress. Posts feature Gretchen on walks, gazing out a car window and sunbathing in a hammock, among other activities.
Abbott and her roommates decided to create the Instagram page not only as a way to document Gretchen’s progress, but also as a way to bring a little joy and entertainment to family and friends as they follow Gretchen’s journey.
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“My roommates last year and I were like, ‘OK, she’s going to go on this fitness journey [and] it will be amazing to document it,’ because we were so determined on helping her lose weight.”
Gretchen’s life in Oxford definitely isn’t all workout and diets, though. She often accompanies Abbott around Oxford, everywhere from on-campus to uptown spots like Kofenya and Brick Street. Abbott sometimes dresses Gretchen up in costumes, including a hot dog, a taco or even a shark.
Abbott and Gretchen were also recently featured in a post on Miami’s instagram page, which now has more than 1,400 likes and multiple comments from friends cheering on Gretchen’s newfound fame.
“She brings so much joy, not only to my life, but [to] other people,” Abbott said.
Although the first part of Gretchen’s life wasn’t with Abbott, Abbott is confident she’ll be there for the rest, even as their time at Miami comes to a close.
“After graduation, wherever I go, whatever I do, I know that she’s going to follow with me.”