August 1, 2012
I may have shared this with you all before, but our family has three dogs, all rescues. We love them dearly; two weigh about 90 pounds, and one weighs 2.5 pounds. They’re loving, funny and comforting (which I suppose is true of most dogs, isn’t it?). They are an oasis of tail-wagging, slobbering acceptance.
Only one of the three is a male dog, and his name is Chester. Chester is, at the doctor’s best guess, a pit bull, retriever, chow mix. He was found wandering alone, starving and terrified, at roughly the age of six weeks. He had every worm and ailment under the sun when he was found and required a two-week stay at the vet before we could even think about bringing him home. All I had to do was take one look at him to fall hopelessly, completely in love. That was seven years ago. Chester happily moved in and took his rightful place in our family as the coolest, most affectionate dog I’ve ever known.
We had a scare a couple of days ago; Chester became very lethargic and was obviously sick. He was covered with hot spots, had a fever and was just miserable. He also had a lump on one of his hips that we noticed very recently. We called the vet, waited and began mentally bracing ourselves.
I won’t keep you in suspense; as it turns out, Chester has extremely sensitive skin and literally had hot spots from head to tail. His body had become so inflamed that he had become a pretty sick dog. An even bigger relief came when the vet told us that the lump on his hip is nothing more than a fat deposit, a love handle; Chester is and always has been an eating machine. He’s about 15 pounds overweight.
We left the vet with strict marching orders to put our beloved Chester on a fitness program, and pronto. He’s F-A-T (I try not to say that word around him, as he’s sensitive about it). I explained to the doctor that he behaves horribly on a leash. I literally can’t walk the dog, he’s so ill-behaved when tethered. We’ve tried for seven years.
Doc told me to figure it out, so we promptly went to PetSmart and bought an extra-large harness and strong leash. Chester walked about a half mile without incident, but I suspect it’s because he was feeling under the weather. We’ll see in a day or two if he’s still cooperating.
The vet suggested we begin rewarding him with green beans and carrots instead of dog treats. She’s new. She doesn’t know him very well yet. The last time I tried to get Chester to eat a vegetable, he smeared the bright orange carrot all over the family room carpet, never actually eating it. The stains are still visible after countless cleanings.
Oh well, we simply have to do this. We love him too much to lose him too early. I figure, it only took me ten years to get my husband to eat broccoli. How hard can this be? I'll keep you posted.
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of “Southern Fried White Trash.” The book takes a humorous look at families and how we behave when thrown together for weddings, funerals and holidays. She has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, been featured on FOX 5 News and CNN, and is often a guest on television and radio shows nationwide. Her next book, “Red Lipstick and Clean Underwear,” is eagerly expected in Fall 2012.