Until this week when Marshall went in for his annual check up and grooming on Wednesday.
Now, I will be the first to admit that Marshall's life tends to lean towards the slightly overindulged. In my defense, he is just so darn cute and grateful and quite honestly, he was nearly euthanized so I feel like he's done his hard time in this life. Marshall is not cut out for deprivation, and I am committed to honoring that about him. Unfortunately, the vet didn't see it quite that way and on Wednesday there was an awkward intervention at Critter Clinic.
Supposedly (I say "supposedly" because their records are hand written and thus subject to human error), Marshall has gained...um...11 pounds since he came to live here. While that doesn't sound like much (to me...everyone else sort of gasps...), I guess it isn't keeping him at an ideal weight...for a small to medium size dog. Despite my protests - it could just be his thick fur ("We checked after he was groomed. It only looked more obvious."), he's big boned ("He's big everything right now."), and my personal favorite...could it be a thyroid problem (just laughter at that one), I finally had to face the fact that Marshall is, well...ample.
Twenty minutes later we left the vet with Marshall (who I fear all the other dogs in for grooming were calling "Fatty McFat Fat") and a plan to get him in better shape for his first weigh in which comes in four to six weeks.
I know in my heart that it is the right thing to do. When you face down the vet tech and have to accept the reality of canine obesity, there is no other appropriate course of action but to help him get healthy again. I have initiated what I call 'Marshall's Fat Camp", and I am committed to getting him down at least a few pounds for his weigh in next month. Diet and exercise are now strictly regimented, and poor Marshall's world has been turned upside down. No more cheese, bites of ham, or last nibbles of sandwiches. Even the dog treats are out. Breakfast and dinner (apparently dogs don't usually get a lunch - who knew???) are cut back, and snacks have become green beans. It's like I'm my dog's personal Dr. Holistic now.
When I first got Marshall we were faithful walkers. Every morning no matter the weather and most every evening we headed out for a fifteen minute walk, but those had fallen by the wayside. Until now. I am back to taking Marshall for a walk at least once a day, and if weather and daylight permit, we try to tackle two.
It hasn't been easy. While Marshall loves to go for walks (you can't even say the word "walk" without him jumping around and he eventually even caught on to what "w-a-l-k" meant), he isn't used to the distance or frequency. I took him the other afternoon for nearly a mile, and about halfway through he gave me a look that clearly communicated that the fun was so over. Marshall's first experience eating a green bean took almost ten minutes. He couldn't figure out what to do with it. It did not compute as food. (Ok, that one I can understand...) But the low point was today, when he staged a mini protest by refusing to eat his dog food. He would circle by the bowl, look at it distastefully, and then give me one of his pitiful looks. I nearly broke, but then I remember that Jillian has never slipped her contestants a Big Mac to tide them over, and in the end, most everyone on the show ends up healthier.
I am Marshall's Jillian. Some moments he loves me, some moments he hates me, but hopefully one day he will thank me. I sure hope so. In the meanwhile, I feel so guilty I may need a Reeses cup.