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Video: Obie the obese dog in custody battle

  1. Closed captioning of: Obie the obese dog in custody battle

    >>> at what is trending today. our quick roundup of what has you talking online. a custody fight over obie, the obese daschund is a top yahoo! search. the dog's appearances have included right here at the "today" show but the oregon group that rescued him from the elderly owners says the pudgy pooch is a dog, not a celebrity. they filed a lawsuit demanding the foster caretaker return him to the view. barbara walters scolding of trump getting lots of attention online. take a listen.

    >> you and i have known each other for many years, and you know that i am your friend, and i think you are a brilliant businessman and you are great on television and you have a fascinating personality. donald, you're making a fool of yourself. you're not hurting obama. you're hurting donald and that hurts me because you're a decent man.

    >> well, donald trump later tweet that had barbara missed the entire point of his announcement.

    >>> and today.com is where you can see this all over again. how matt got to work this morning, a little late, mind you, on a motorized surf board dodging waves and potholes along the way. it was inspired by viral video artists also jen rate a lot of buzz online. surf's up, hang ten, very sweet ride . good way to commute to work. 8:05 right now. back outside to matt. he had some moves there.

    >> i'm not sure i would recommend it as a great way to commute to work.

By Laura T. Coffey
TODAY contributor
updated 10/26/2012 9:10:49 AM ET 2012-10-26T13:10:49

Who exactly should be taking care of a morbidly obese dachshund named Obie? A judge in Oregon may make that decision.

Image: Obie the obese dachshund
Obie's foster mom Nora Vanatta says he's down to 62 pounds today, from 77 in August.

Obie is at the center of a doggie custody battle between his foster mom, Nora Vanatta, and the woman who runs the dachshund rescue organization that originally saved him, Jenell Rangan. Vanatta wants to keep Obie, and Rangan wants him back.

Their once-cooperative relationship disintegrated in recent weeks as Obie skyrocketed to fame on television and the Internet. The matter has become so contentious that a hearing about Obie’s fate is set for Monday in Washington County Circuit Court.

Back in August, Obie was so astonishingly overweight that he could barely move. The 5-year-old dog weighed 77 pounds, and the elderly couple who owned him in Puyallup, Wash., relinquished him because they realized they could no longer care for him. Rangan’s organization, Portland-based Oregon Dachshund Rescue, stepped in and offered to care for the rotund pup.

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Rangan herself was overwhelmed caring for her elderly father at that time, so she sent out a call for a volunteer who might be able to provide a temporary foster home for a severely overweight dachshund. Vanatta offered to help — and was astounded when she saw Obie in person for the first time.

“I had no idea what to expect,” Vanatta posted on Facebook in late August. “I thought a basset hound would show up. ... Well, he arrived Saturday, Aug. 18 and to my astonishment he IS a dachshund and he actually weighs 77 pounds.

“He is extremely sweet and loving,” Vanatta continued. “He was obviously loved and is a joy to work with.”

Vanatta created a Facebook page for Obie and called it “Biggest Loser, Doxie Edition.” As she posted oodles of irresistible photos of Obie and chronicled his weight-loss regimen, support came pouring in from dachshund lovers in more than 20 countries. Hundreds wrote messages of encouragement, and many made monetary donations toward Obie’s care.

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Before long, Obie became a media darling, and made an in-studio appearance on TODAY in New York on Sept. 12.

During her TODAY appearance with Obie, Vanatta told Al Roker that she expected to spend at least a year helping Obie slim down.

“We are putting him on a high-protein, high-fiber, low-energy diet,” Vanatta told Roker. “Our goal is 1 percent weight loss a week. So far he’s lost about 2 pounds a week, which is perfect.”

Video: Obie the obese dog works toward weight loss (on this page)
Image: Al Roker, Nora Vanatta, Dr. Andrew Kaplan, Obie the dachshund
Vanatta brought Obie to New York in September and appeared on TODAY with Al Roker and veterinarian Dr. Andrew Kaplan.

Meanwhile, back in Oregon, Rangan was growing increasingly frustrated with Vanatta’s care of Obie. She didn’t think the dog was healthy enough to be traveling across the continent for media appearances.

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In a complaint filed Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court, Oregon Dachshund Rescue alleges that Vanatta, a former veterinary technician, has not been providing Obie with proper veterinary care for his obesity. Instead, the rescue organization says Vanatta has been “exploiting the dog for the sensationalistic promotional value of its unusual obesity” and “earning money off of the dog’s public exhibition.” The complaint seeks the immediate return of Obie to Rangan.

Vanatta has turned to her thousands of supporters online in advance of Monday’s court hearing. As of Friday morning, an online petition asking Rangan “stop fighting to take Obie away from his home” had almost 12,000 supporters.

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In a status update on Obie’s Facebook page, Vanatta described the way Obie has bonded with her and her two other dogs, a 9-year-old black Labrador retriever and a 5-year-old dachshund.

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“It is very upsetting that Jenell is using doxie-saving money to take him away from me,” Vanatta wrote. “She clearly doesn’t have his best interest in mind and is only interested in him now that he is famous.

“I am going to fight for (Obie) and I need your continued support. I am not in a position to spend money on a lawyer but it is just not right to make Obie adjust to a new home now. I am asking for your continued support to help Obie stay with me.”

Need a Coffey break? Friend TODAY.com writer Laura T. Coffey on Facebook, follow her on Twitter  or read more of her stories at LauraTCoffey.com.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: Awkward Family Pet Photos

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  1. Awkward Family Pet Photos

    The creators of the successful blog "Awkward Family Photos" received so many uncomfortable photos of owners and their pets that they've created a new venture. Here's a selection of the hilariously awkward photos. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation

    Don’t even bother showing up to a dinner party at this family’s house without a little white dog. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Chicken Little

    The only real chicken is the guy who doesn’t love one. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Best in show

    The cat is thinking of entering him into some more shows. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Snakes on a family

    Dad thought a cat or dog wouldn’t be good with kids. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Birdman

    Gary felt that the parrot was overdressed. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Cat’s out of the pocket

    Even on the farm, you must accessorize. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Color me bad

    The dogs preferred the black & whites. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Cat’s eye

    It’s one thing to cross a black cat’s path, but try upstaging it. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Curious george

    This father didn’t want to admit it, but he had his favorite. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. LOL cats

    Cat casual. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Nativity

    He’s the understudy. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Me and my skunk

    A pony isn’t looking so crazy anymore, is it mom? (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Pet-A-Likes

    There is a theory that people look like their pets. For AFPP, it’s not a theory. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Baaaaaaa!

    There is a goat in the living room. (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Cougartown

    “This was my brother and me in a crib that our dad had built, along with Sadie the cougar. We were modeling for his furniture, but who knows whether or not this confusing pic gave credit to his woodworking skills.” (awkwardfamilypetphotos.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Armed and Dangerous

    He says parrot, she says rifle equipped with scope and bowie knife bayonet. Check out more Awkward Family Photos (awkwardfamilypetphotos) Back to slideshow navigation
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