Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bittersweet Reunion: Do Not Do This To Your Dog!

Last Friday was a nasty day. It was raining, and the rain turned most of the outdoors into a skating ring.

There is a set of trails where we don't go much any more, as the city decided to develop it into a natural area by turning all the foot paths into paved roads and generally improving it..

This time, however, we figured that it might be the safest place to go for a walk in order to avoid the slippery danger. It wasn't really great, but we were able to make our way through relatively safely.

We got excited when on our way out we met one of Jasmine's old friends, let's call him Cherry, the Australian Shepherd. 

Cherry belongs to a nice old couple.

It's been probably at least a year since we saw him last.

He is a good natured dog and Jasmine liked him from the first time they met. We still had our old rescue Bruin then. Cherry was very happy and friendly, with amazing social skills. He would wrestle with Bruin and play chase with Jasmine, having a great feel for how each of them liked to play.

They all had a marvelous time, in spite the fact that the old lady didn't really like the idea of her baby playing with Rottweilers.

We met them few more times and then we haven't seen Cherry for a while, until he showed up with a guy who we always used to meet walking through the woods alone. We kept telling him that he should get a dog, because it was such a shame that no dog could benefit from his daily long walks.

And now there he was, with Cherry. 

It turned out that the guy is the old couple's son and started taking Cherry along, because Cherry wasn't getting enough exercise and started gaining some weight.

Still happy and playful, even though somewhat overweight, he would now wrestle with J.D. and still play chase with Jasmine, as in the good old days.

We saw them few times through Jasmine's post-op, Cherry was getting visibly heavier.

"All my parents do," the guy said, "is feeding him something all day long, and I can't get them to slow down with that. He doesn't even want to go on walks any more, he'd rather just lay around and eat. I have to make him to come with me."

Cherry would still play a bit then, but with much less enthusiasm and only in short bursts.

And then we didn't see him until last Friday.

Picture from DiscoveryNews
Already from the distance Cherry looked like he'd rather be anywhere else but there. Moving slowly, uninterested in all the yellow snow, looking to the guy to see if it would be ok for him to just lay down and wait until the guy is done his silly walking business.

He paid little attention to our guys and as we stopped for a conversation he just laid down.

Jasmine was happy to see her old buddy and was trying to get him to play. Bouncing around, doing play-bows, to no avail.

Cherry didn't want to play. He didn't want to walk either. He wanted to go home.

Cherry is now severely overweight. He is as big now as both of our guys put together!

He is about the same age as Jasmine, but there is no life in him!

While Jasmine, after all she's been through, was bouncing around and acting like a puppy, Cherry just sat there. All he wanted was to go home and lay down by a fireplace.

It was a very bittersweet reunion. 

It was nice to reflect on how far Jasmine has come and how well she is doing now. But it was heartbreaking to see how Cherry's owners, with the best intentions, I'm sure, just fed the life right out of him.

But they won't listen to anybody. They think that their dog is happy!

Please, do not do this to your dog!

It's your dog's health (and happiness)!

Further reading:
Pet Obesity: Overweight Dogs and Cats
Is My Pet Overweight?
Why is Being Overweight Dangerous for Dogs and Cats?
Our Portly Pets: Obesity Epidemic Reaches Pets
Why is it hard to talk about fat pets?

Related articles:
No TV Tonight!
The Cancer Antidote that Lies Within
Know Your Dog's Enemies: Overweight


  1. The statistics for fat pets is ridiculous, here in australia as well. I think the last figure I read was around 20-25%. It's sad that most people don't even recognise their pets as being fat.

    Sad but true - apparently, some people get scolded for not feeding their dogs enough... when their dogs are actually the ideal weight. People are so used to seeing dogs that are "full-shaped", when confronted by a lean V-shape and a hint of ribs, they go ballistic!

    Poor Cherry :(

  2. A lot of people overfeed their children too and they have lifelong problems. They seem to equate food and love.

  3. Bittersweet, indeed :( Like the owners you mention, so many people equate food with love and sadly it's hard to get them to change, even in the face of logical evidence that they are doing more harm than good.

  4. Yes, it IS a huge problem and yes, most people don't even realize there is a problem.

    We do this to ourselves, we do this to our kids and now we do this to our pets too.

    People are not hearing the health reasons, maybe they'll hear the happiness one.

  5. Yes, so unfortunate, used to be such a happy dog.

  6. Food does not equal love. I'm really sad for poor Cherry :(

  7. Yeah, not only his life is going to be shortened by this, but he won't be able to enjoy even the one he'll have :-(

  8. I'm glad to see more and more attention brought to the public recently on pet obesity. Thanks for your words Jana; it really is overlooked by so many pet parents.

  9. Hi Y'all,

    You know how difficult it is when you have to smell all the goodies the Humans fix for themselves and not get offered any?

    My Human measures everything I eat. She even measures out the amount of treats she uses to reward me for good behavior! Really now! I don't think that's fair either!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  10. Hi Hawk. I can see how that is difficult. But nothing in life is free, a little 'suffering' can often save you big one.

    We plan our meals so they are at the same time as our pups, so that makes it easier on them. and since we home-cook, they can get most of the yummy smelling stuff too :-)

  11. This is heartbreaking. I went through a similar situation but in this case was my parents. I am in the military and every time I deploy I come back to find my older dog looking like he ate another dog. And because he is 13 years old, with medical issues he does not like walking. It has taken almost 1.5 years since my last deployment for him to lose the weight. To make things worse, he has arthritis, which was made worse by the weight...a vicious circle. One of the things that helped was portioning the meals especially when they stay at my parents. I now use The Honest Kitchen raw food or cook for them when at home, and the chunky butt is full of energy and actually is enjoying the walks. Amazing what losing 9 pounds can do. I am hoping I dont have to deploy again or else...

    Angie @ Fetch

  12. Hi Angie, yes, very sad. Unfortunately obesity and arthritis go hand in hand too. Parents are often so hard to talk to!

    Glad he's doing well now! (((hugs)))

  13. I could not agree with this post more! Working at the vet we see so many obese dogs. It is sad. The owners always think that they are not doing any harm by overfeeding their dog,they feel bad for him, but then they wonder why he is breathing heavy, or limping, or more tired than normal, or can' walk as far as he use too. we try and explain to them that by overfeeding they are cutting their dogs life short, most of the time it just doesn't sink in.

  14. Hi Jen. It is frustrating enough for me, I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for veterinarians! This is one of the topics people just don't want to hear at all.

    There are plenty of articles explaining the connection between obesity and disease, I am hoping that bringing up quality of life might just be what some of them need to hear.

  15. As a veterinarian, I find it very frustrating. Some owners you try and talk to them about it and their eyes glaze over and they just switch off. You know you will get nowhere with them. Others are far more motivated and really just did not see how fat their dog had become. If you explain the health benefits and get these people to get the weight off their dog, they become your best advocates.

  16. So many people still believe that chubby is healthy. And so many people seem to have lost the sight of what their dog should look like. And the worst, so many are just plain in denial.

  17. I have personally stuggled with my own dog's weight. I got him from shelter where he was sharing a room with puppies (they used common rooms, not individual pens). 'To avoid fighting' (raises eyebrows), they had the dogs on a continuous supply of (puppy) food. He is a English bulldog cross, castrated, and was about 4 years old at the time. So when I got him, he was 5kg overweight (his ideal weight = 20 kg, he was 25 kg).

    We got him down to 21 kg in a few weeks by using reduced quantities, exercise and diet food. Two years down the line, he's hovering between 20 and 21 kg, and still on the diet food.

    If we slip up for a few days, he puts weight on like nobody's business. So it looks like we'll have to have him on a diet for the rest of his life.

    It's really worth it, though, as his energy levels have gone way up, and so has his fitness.

  18. Hi Laure-Anne. Oh yeah, that situation would certainly make it easy for him to be overweight. Actually it's a good sign that he was only 5kg overweight and not more!

    Our late rescue was also severely overweight when we got him - he looked like a beer barrel.

    I think the one downside with dieting is the same as with people. If the food supply is restricted the body learns to hold on to every calorie and store them when it gets a chance.

    That's why it is important that exercise routine is included in the process. That keeps the metabolism up. Our old rescue eventually lost all the extra weight by getting him on our exercise regime along with reasonable food portions.

    If weight control is a true struggle, it might be a good idea to check whether some health issues aren't going on. Under-active thyroid, for example, can cause struggle with weight. This happened to our Jasmine. Once the thyroid levels got under control, she lost the extra weight easily.