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the inner dog

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By Mallory Messina

Jillian Michaels is probably best known for being “TV’s toughest trainer” for two seasons on NBC’s hit series The Biggest Loser. Her energy and passion for her craft are also the stars of Jillian’s book, Winning By Losing: Drop the Weight, Change Your Life, and on a DVD and a successful online training program, all of which feature the best fitness training techniques and nutrition tips.

With a resume like that, you wouldn’t believe that Jillian had a weight problem in her own home in Los Angeles. But “Fat Baxter”, Jillian’s chubby Chihuahua, led her to get involved with the Hill’s 2006 National PetFit Challenge.

Baxter is one of a growing number of overweight pets in America, a condition that can lead to serious consequences down the road. As many as 40 percent of American household pets are obese or overweight-that’s 48 million dogs and cats! Through the Hill’s 2006 National Pet Fit Challenge, Jillian and Baxter helped pet owners make a real difference in their animals’ lives by participating in a nutrition and exercise program that is proven to help out-of-shape pets get back to a healthy weight. The canine winner of this year’s challenge was a Miniature Pinscher named Milo who lost 53.5 percent of his body weight!

Jillian and Baxter were winners, too. Through their hard work and dedication, Baxter dropped 11 pounds during the challenge! We’re excited that Jillian and “Non-Fat” Baxter are our Inner Dog subjects this month!

What is his idea of perfect happiness?

Well, Baxter used to love a good snooze in his doggie bed, but lately,
we've been going on hikes together in Runyon Canyon near our house. Baxter
used to only be able to hike for about 20 minutes, then he would go relax
under a tree. But lately, he has really improved his endurance!

What is his favorite treat?

Keftethes (Greek meatballs) are Baxter's biggest indulgence. Every time I
go to my favorite Greek restaurant, they always include an extra meatball
for "Fat Baxter." But since Baxter is hoping to shed a few pounds this
summer to get into shape, he now loves munching on Hill's Science Diet
Light Treats.

If he could change one thing about himself, what would it be?

Baxter really wants to slim down. At his heaviest about a month ago, Baxter
weighed in at 11 pounds, when ideally, he should weigh 8 pounds. He's ready
to get in shape. It's time.

What is his most treasured possession?

His most treasured possession is a blue stuffed octopus.

What is his most endearing quality?

Baxter's most endearing quality would have to be his love of meeting new people and showing off for them.

Assuming there is such a thing as reincarnation, what or who might he have
been in a former life?

Hmmm, a Latin lover maybe?!

Is there anything that embarrasses him?

For a while, Baxter really had it good because I was feeding him whatever I ate. But I think the extra weight affected his self confidence. Since he's been exercising and eating better,
I've noticed that he's got a lot more energy and is feeling great about

What is it that he dislikes most?

He didn't like it when I went to Australia for three months to film The
Biggest Loser, so I would say he doesn't like when his loved ones leave for
long periods of time.

What is his greatest fear?

Baxter's greatest fear is being fat and alone.

What is his greatest accomplishment?

Baxter's greatest accomplishment is leading the charge for the Hill's 2006
National PetFit Challenge. We are determined to get to him to reach his
ideal body weight to help ensure that he is as healthy and happy as possible
and around for a long time. Baxter is issuing the challenge to pudgy pets
across the country to get involved and shed those unhealthy extra pounds!

What is his favorite place?

Snuggled up on the pillow next to me in bed.

What does he really like in other dogs?

Manners. Baxter's old school - he prefers it if another dog asks politely
before they sniff his butt.

Does he have a motto?

You are what you eat!

Photographs by Cami Johnson,