What happened to my slim waist?

October 6, 2019

People—through acts they intend to be loving—can set their pets on the path to obesity. Here’s what one canine might have to say.

I was born slender, I swear. I was the skinniest of the litter. Every day, between feeds, I’d burn off energy.

Two months on I was scooped up by a cool-looking human. He wrapped me up in a towel and, once we got into the car, he gave me a treat. Who knows what they were made of but—yum—I ate two dozen on the way home.

The land of milk and honey
My new neighbourhood turned out to be top notch! I couldn’t believe my eyes: a massive yard, equipped with squirrels and plenty of space to dig holes. Bones galore. And biscuits, lots of them, every time I showed him I knew my name. Still more when I figured out “sit”, “come” and “stay”. As time passed, and because I loved them so, he gave me even more.

He liked to cook. As he chopped ham or diced chicken, there was always a piece (or two) for me. I got to taste everything. And if my human tried to ignore me, I’d whimper in the corner. It didn’t take me long to realize that he tossed treats my way to perk me up. I invited myself to the dinner table and learned to earn my title, the gourmet pooch. Between feedings, I’d recline on the sofa with my fattening stomach in the air.

When the gravy starts to thicken
On cold fall evenings, we’d huddle in front of the TV … with chips. And because we’d stopped going to the park many moons ago, I wallowed in boredom. Which my human tempted me out of with a nice tasty snack. I think he’d lost track of the sheer quantity of food I was consuming every day.

That was a tough winter. There was a ton of snow and I was finding it hard to get out and about. So, my human let me out into the yard to relieve myself. Exercise stopped there. No more tough walks for my short legs. My tummy was getting so wide that it would make people laugh. Everyone, that is, except my veterinarian.

In her clinic, some harsh words came out of her mouth: obesity, joint pains, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high risk of cancer. I saw the fear in the eyes of my Pawsie. Poor guy, he’d been in denial for such a long time. He showered me with love, telling me how handsome I was, all the same. But we’d both heard the veterinarian tell us that if I didn’t lose weight I would have a high risk of premature death. Worse than that, that I’d likely be sick and miserable before I died. Spoiling me rotten was going to kill me. My human wiped away a tear as I stretched out on the vet’s cold metal table and she promised to help us. Thank goodness, because I could hardly hold myself up.

A lightened load
For the past few weeks, I’ve stopped eating between meals. There was no way around it. I tried and he refused. Since then I’ve started to have more energy. I can even get myself around the block. I found my old Frisbee in a back corner of the yard and when I fetched it he congratulated me with a warm pet, which was honestly just as good as a treat. We now play every day. We go out. And both of us are losing weight.

I’ve grown to understand that real joy in life is a combination of time, love and games. Kibbles, yes, but just the right amount. Pre-packaged treats are definitely off the menu. And real rewards? They’re the ones that move the heart.

Tomorrow, to mark pet obesity prevention week, read Dr Michel Pepin’s report on the dangers of pet obesity, what you can do about it and some eye-opening statistics.


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