Rusty is on his second diet. The first one didn’t work out exactly as his human planned. He gained a couple of pounds on it.
Not that Rusty was ever on board with any proposal to slim down. He was perfectly happy being the William Howard Taft of cocker spaniels. If we had to move an extra-large tub into the bathroom, as they did in the White House so President Taft could take a bath, Rusty was not embarrassed. He never wanted a bath, anyway.
If people called him pudgy, Rusty let that roll off his broad little back. He had a human of his own and a home of his own. He had a comfortable rug where he could nap, morning and evening exercise walks, chase-able rabbits in the back yard and regular meals. Rusty’s plan for his retirement years was to stay right there and suck as much marrow as he could from the bone of life.
Until the veterinarian said, “Losing weight will really help him with his breathing.”
Rusty has chronic tracheobronchitis, inflammation of the airways. He coughs when he gets to his feet after lying down, to try to clear the mucus from his lungs. He coughs when he starts walking from a sitting position, coughs when he trots. He has been on a bronchodilator, theophylline, http://www.thoracic.org/clinical/copd-guidelines/for-patients/what-kind-of-medications-are-there-for-copd/what-is-theophylline-theofylline.php. But it hasn’t helped much in the three or four weeks he has been taking it.
Rusty is willing to take the pills indefinitely, as long as they come wrapped in peanut butter. Would we all be happier in life if our pills came wrapped in peanut butter?
Rusty was overweight when we met one year ago at the Humane Society animal shelter http://www.carr.org/humane/dogs.htm. The chubby little fellow stood near the kennel door and looked up at everyone who came by, big sad brown eyes asking, “Are you the one?”
But he was an old fellow, 12 in dog years, 64 in human years. A number of people passed him by for younger dogs. Perhaps Rusty was meant for someone who knows about being old. I know more than I care to about aging.
Rusty would lose some of that extra poundage once he got regular exercise, the Humane Society staff predicted. At first, he did. We went on twice-daily walks and his weight began to drop. He went to the groomer and looked even slimmer with his curls trimmed. My man was lookin’ good.
Things changed when Rusty was diagnosed with kidney disease. He had to go off his regular dog food and on a special kidney disease food. Slowly, his weight crept up.
I tried giving him less food. Rusty was scouring the kitchen for crumbs and snarfing up rabbit droppings in the back yard. Ugh. He was not losing weight, but the disgustingness level of his snacks was soaring.
“I don’t understand this. I am not overfeeding this dog,” I kept saying at regular weigh-ins.
I’m reasonably certain the veterinarians did not believe me, until a few weeks ago when one said, “Well, that kidney disease diet is high in fat.”
Oh. No, I hadn’t known that. No wonder my guy was ballooning outward. So now Rusty’s dinners consist of one-half kidney disease diet food, one-half low-calorie nuggets. He was okay with the dog food switch, but unhappy with the limited quantity. It’s like being accustomed to ordering the 12-oz. steak and dropping back to the 8-oz. You want to get your stomach to stop overhanging your belt, but that 8-oz. steak, even though it is half a pound of meat, looks really small on the plate. And you’re still hungry when you finish it.
“Try adding green beans,” said one veterinarian. “They will help him feel full.”
They might have, except that all the green beans—frozen, cooked, whole, chopped—were carried carefully from Rusty’s dish in the kitchen to the dining room rug. And left there. Trying to vacuum up green beans gets old fast.
Try carrots, said another veterinarian. Aha! Cooked carrots were a hit.
Two weeks and a pound or so of carrots later, Rusty’s weight has stabilized. He hasn’t lost any weight yet, but we’re headed in the right direction. By spring, he may be the hunkiest cocker spaniel on the block, not the chunkiest.