This is the vision that greets me first thing each morning as I check in on Tucker, our Pembroke Welsh corgi, before I let him outside. His stubby little corgi legs stick straight up in the air when he sleeps in his crate every night and he certainly seems pretty cozy in there. We call it his condo and he loves it. Each night, around about 9:30 or 10:00 p.m., he shuffles over to his crate and jumps in, when he’s decided he’s had enough and decides to call it a day.
He’s now twelve, which translates to eight-four in dog years, and I worry about his health. With no kids around, my husband and I now spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about the two pets: Tucker our dog and Maverick, our cat.
Last year during Tucker’s annual physical, our vet looked at us sternly and said, “Tucker weighs 40 pounds and is 10 pounds overweight! You need to put him on a strict diet immediately.” She wasn’t kidding. I was mortified as I didn’t realize quite how much he’d gained in such a short time. Wasn’t he just 34 pounds the last time we’d brought him in?
Whenever the kids came home from college, they’d always spend the first half hour or so remarking about how fat he’d gotten, and I’d earnestly argue that he wasn’t fat, that it was a trait of the breed and that his fur made him seem bigger than he was, when of course, I knew damn well in my heart of hearts that he was in fact obese but I just wasn’t prepared to admit it to those two!
The vet told us to put Tucker on a stringent crash diet of only one cup a day of this special, very expensive, physician prescribed dog food, instead of the two cups a day I’d been feeding him, and he was freaked out for a few days until he seemed to realize that things were changing pretty dramatically around here, food wise, and began to begrudgingly get the hang of it.
He would snarf down his meager half cup within seconds and immediately start begging for more, so I found this spirally dog bowl thing above which seemed to do the trick as it now takes him about four minutes to eat each meal instead of finishing it in seconds, before I’ve even had a chance to turn around and put the now empty measuring cup in the sink.
And lo and behold, here we are a full year later and he’s down to 30 pounds and looking very svelte. Even the kids say he’s looking healthier, although he does a lot more napping these days.
I will acknowledge that I have a strange and deep affection for this, my first and only dog, who stood by me throughout the entire year and a half of my breast cancer treatments, who lay next to me on my bed through the endless thick, heavy naps during chemo, who forced me outside to take walks on those endless days when I could barely get myself out of bed, who stayed protectively by my side the entire time, seeming to know just how sick his food source was. We still go on those walks, only now, I’m the one who has to rein myself in for him, as he’s a lot slower than he used to be.
I hope to guide this sweet soul as gently through his old age, as he guided me, throughout my breast cancer.