Cute but stupid

This photo is actually from Christmas, but it's the same park and the same dogs, so I'm using it here.

I went to visit my family this weekend, for an early birthday celebration for my dad and to surprise my siblings. It was a beautiful few days and on Saturday, we went back to the big, open park nearby and took Dublin and Dally with us. (Photo above gives an approximation of what the day was like, even though the photo is from Christmas. Same dogs, same park, mostly the same people.)

The dogs were off-leash most of the time and stuck with us through all the trails. Dublin is very responsive, especially to my father and to her human, Dave; Dally, not so much. We shared the trail with sporadic mountain bikers and when we’d call Dublin to get off the trail, she’d do so immediately; when we’d call at Dally or gesture at her, she just stood there dumbly, staring at us. Dally is only 8 or 9 months old and she hasn’t been trained by her family at all, so I suppose this isn’t really surprising.

When Dublin spotted the creek, she went scrambling down a large embankment and splashed around the water. Dally tried to follow her, but since she’s overweight and clumsy, it didn’t go so smoothly. She ended up getting trapped in a huge vat of quicksand-like mud and Dave had to help drag her out of it. As my dad likes to say of dogs like her: “Cute but stupid!” After she emerged, she looked like a sad, shamed princess; she couldn’t even wag her tail, as it was so weighed down with mud. Poor baby. We hosed her down when we got home and she was no worse for the wear.

Side note: Is it ever appropriate to tell someone that their dog is overweight? Especially if they seem unaware of it? Dally is young, as I mentioned, but the poor girl already has a weight problem. I think she needs to lose 15 pounds or more; it’s noticeable, and even more so since I last saw her in December. Is that ever appropriate, do you think? If so, is there a gentle way to say it?

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6 thoughts on “Cute but stupid

  1. Perhaps not appropriate, but sometimes necessary. I unfortunately don’t know how I would approach it tactfully. One might assume that their vet might tell them, but even that isn’t a guarantee.

    I’d say start out with something like “What are you feeding on these days?” but even that might be a can of worms.

  2. I tell people all the time “She’s a bit fluffy, isn’t she?” or “You really like your food, just like a hound!” and when they agree and want to know how to help her lose weight, I suggest green beans (less the sodium), more exercise and to be sure to count her treats as part of her meals. Fat dogs make me crazy and yes, I have a couple!

  3. I think it’s a hard conversation to have, but that if this family kind of relegates her exercise to your family, than it is totally appropriate. In this case, I’d probably say something like:
    I noticed on the hike today that Dally was having some difficulties moving over terrain that Dublin went over without any issues. I know she’s still a puppy, but she’s not growing at the same rate she was a few months ago. Have you talked to her vet about her weight recently?

  4. Tactfully, I don’t know of a way. My in-laws cat is massive and quite young. Very sad…
    I’ve taken the cat to the vet and bought them single-ingredient treats that are dramatically less calories than what they feed it normally.

    No idea how I’d tell them why I’m doing it, though…

  5. Heh, I like Bobbi Rae’s “You really like your food, just like a hound!” comment (said good-naturedly, of course, while making kissy-faces and gently thumping the side of the said dog). Erin S.’s “I know she’s still a puppy, but she’s not growing at the same rate she was a few months ago” sounds direct, but tactful too.

    But generally, I think it’s rare that folks can talk about dog weight in a tactful manner. Coming from strangers, in particular. So maybe depends on how close you feel to Dally’s owners.

    I find that seeing the dogs in action, in a side-by-side comparison, is often the best icebreaker. We’ve encountered a few “full-figured” Basenji on our park excursions, and the difference was usually so obvious that the other party would open the topic for discussion, usually by asking what I was feeding. Conformity by peer pressure! 😉 If they have the will or desire to change, they will ask…

  6. Ah, just had to put my darling Ivy (one-year-old Aussie) on a diet after our flyball teacher and two others told me she was fat. My feelings were a little hurt but the three of them saying the same thing got through to me. And forget my hurt feelings! I want my girl to live as long as possible and to be as healthy as possible, so I’m grateful to them for speaking up.

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