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I Like Big Mutts and I Cannot Lie

Monday, March 19, 2012

"If your dog is overweight, you aren't getting enough exercise." ~ Anon

I knew we were in trouble when I saw my dog go through the dog door, her stomach almost skimming the sides. Roxie is a 5 year old, 65 pound mutt - a golden retriever, mixed with who knows what. She has always been the most active member of our family, and I was shocked when I realized how close she was to outgrowing the doggie door. I started walking Roxie more and put her on a weight management dog food, and she lost a healthy amount of weight in a few months.

Recently recommitting to my own health has actually opened my eyes to the health of others, including Roxie. I realized that our walks had gradually become infrequent, then nonexistent. I noticed my furry four-legged child had slowly regained her weight. Excess weight is really hard on dogs, and I had only myself to blame since she is totally dependent on "her people" for her diet and exercise.

I looked at Roxie this weekend and saw this smart, protective, loving, beautiful, hairy creature, who loves me no matter what. She doesn't get mad when I come home late or give me a guilt trip if I overeat. She never interrupts when I'm talking, and she loves me whether I'm 5 or 500 lbs. overweight. And she is deeply appreciative when she gets a belly scratch or a Beggin' Strip.

Oh, sweet rapture!

It also hit me that neglecting our regular walks deprives Roxie of doing what dogs do best - indulging the senses. I wasn't giving her the chance to check out her neighborhood, plot against suspicious squirrels, smell weird things in the grass, and occasionally (if she's feeling really brave and I don't catch her in time) eat random stuff off the sidewalk that would send most people to the ER.

Instead of sitting around feeling guilty about not taking Roxie out more, I changed my cardio routine to include her. I decided to schedule my walks first thing in the morning. This means getting up obscenely early, but it also means uninterrupted exercise time that Roxie and I share. When she realized I was putting on my walking clothes at 5:00 this morning, she went from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds flat. Who else gets that excited to hang out with you at a moment's notice, day or night?

Roxie's my cardio partner, and she'll definitely hold me to it. I want to help her make the most of her days, feeling safe, feeling loved, feeling exercised. And maybe, just maybe, we'll lose some weight together.
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