Anyone who’s ever seen me will agree that I don’t look like the ‘girly’ type. No bows in my hair, no frilly collars or silly outfits. Except on certain holidays when Lani, the Doc’s wife and my sort-of mom, insists on making me wear theme neckerchiefs. Like the green one on St. Patrick’s Day, the Stars and Stripes on Memorial Day, the orange and black number on Halloween, (my favorite because it goes well with my natural coloring), and the really goofy stuff they put on me around Christmas time.
One year it’s this headband with antlers, like I’m supposed to be a reindeer. Another time it was some floppy hat with a bell on top—Kaya the elf. Then they start taking pictures! It’s pretty embarrassing but it seems important to them for some reason so I go along with it, more or less. The less part being my ears.
I have elegant ears. Statuesque. They come to a point and stand straight up. When I want them to. They are two of my best features and the folks love taking pictures of me with them on full display. I’m usually happy to oblige—I mean, I like to look good in pictures just like everyone else. Except when they put me in my Christmas costumes.
I really can’t avoid having them dress me up, but I can avoid the perfect photo-op. So I sit through wardrobe, maybe work them for a treat or two, perk up my ears, and wait. Eventually one of them takes out the camera, (which is now also the phone—fooled me the first time), and point it my way. Just when I think they are about to push the button I pull my ears back.
They start talking to me, I smile and wag my tail, maybe I get another treat, and we do the whole thing over again. It’s hilarious. This goes on until they get frustrated and stop trying, or I decided to give them a break and keep my ears up for the perfect shot. Depends on my mood and how ridiculous I look. They say they want the picture to make Christmas cards. Great. Why don’t they just post the stupid thing on YouTube so the whole world can see me looking like an idiot?
Anyway, I didn’t sit down to tell you about my sartorial difficulties. Like I started saying, I’m not the ‘girly’ type. I’m more the Tomboy. Still, like any female I am concerned with my appearance. One of the walks we take in the afternoon goes past the Vet’s office. They have a scale in front, near the shelves of icky vet-type dog food, and during our walks I will occasional drop in to weigh myself. Actually, I stop in front of the door and refuse to move until one of the folks opens it for me. Then I drag whomever is on the other end of the leash to the scale. I sit, they work the buttons, I get my digital weight read out, usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 pounds, and off we go.
About a week ago I had to go to the vet for a real visit. Annual check up, blood tests, etc. Of course, the first thing I did when we walked in was weigh myself. 71 pounds. “Perfect,” I told myself, “same as it’s been for years.” Then they took me and the folks to the exam room.
It’s a little creepy. They try to keep it sanitary, and I’m sure to their eyes and noses it is. But I can smell the anxiety of the other guys and gals who’ve been in there, and it’s not just dogs. There’s cat anxiety, too. Probably because the cat was anxious I or one of my pals would get in one door before he got out the other. I wish.
The vet finally showed up, nice woman, actually, not scary at all. She gives me the once over and says I’ve become ‘full figured’. Huh? “Hey, Fatso,” the doc says, like I didn’t get it the first time. “What are you talking about? I’m 71 pounds—just like always!” I say in my defense. “We don’t use the F word,” the Vet replies. “Fatso,” the doc whispers in my ear, which is by now pulled all the way back to my neck.
“She’s what, about 8 years old now,” the Vet asks. Yes, I am. Maybe 8 and a couple of months. I don’t really remember the exact day I was born. I’m pretty sure you don’t, either. “So even though her weight hasn’t changed, her percentage of body fat has. You probably need to put her on a diet, get her to lose a couple of pounds.”
‘Full figured’, ‘fatso’, ‘diet’. It was a lot to deal with all at once. Frankly, I was a bit mortified. I’ve always had a good figure. Great, really. If I do say so myself. Suddenly being called overweight was a shock. I was speechless. “OK,” the folks said. “We’ll cut her back a bit.” And that was that. The rest of the visit was a blur.
The next day the dreaded ‘diet’ went into effect. New kibble—for ‘mature dogs’. (It’s not bad enough being full figured, they have to call me ‘mature’, too?) Less salami. Less boiled chicken. Oh, oh, that probably means less treats! That would be a disaster.
For a long time I’ve honed my treat-inducing powers of persuasion and I now have the treat distribution schedule just about where I want it. Just before dinner, like an amuse bouche. Just after dinner, like an aperitif. One at cocktail time, like, well, cocktail time, and maybe a bite or two of the folks’ dinner, if they’re having something I really like. A bit of steak, maybe. I’ve come to expect these little perq’s and I’m not about watch everything I’ve worked so hard to engineer go flying out the window because of a couple extra fat percentage points.
So far, I seem to be winning. The new kibble is fine, especially with the powder they sprinkle on it that’s supposed to be good for my joints. I haven’t seen a noticeable change in the handouts, either. But I have to be careful. I’ve made no attempts to weigh myself since this obsession with my ‘full figuredness’ has taken root. No telling what might happen if I were to actually gain a pound. Maybe I’d have to get a gym membership—not that getting one has done either of the folks that much good, if you ask me.
“Hey, Doc! Those scrubs are looking a little tight. How about some steamed broccoli for dinner?”
That’ll be the day.