The Care & Feeding of Pets and People

Two things you should know about me:

1. I’m kind of a crazy dog lady. I am the proud but somewhat beleaguered owner of two pit bulls, Rizzo and Rita, for whom I make questionable financial decisions and all manner of accommodations to my lifestyle. They’re my girls.  (Or, when I’m feeling gansta, they my bitches.)  Here are some photos so you can see the adorableness of the dogs.This is the Rizzy P'zizzy

2.  I’m roughly 50 pounds overweight.  That’s better than I was last year, when I was 75 pounds overweight. I’m working on it. You’re not getting a photo of that. It’s not adorable.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how I care for my darlings versus how I care for myself.

As big, powerful, high-energy animals, pit bulls need a lot of exercise. You can’t expect them to behave if they’re all pent up and miserable.  When I adopted my dogs, I had a big house and a big yard for them to run around in, and we took lots of walks and went on adventures.

Since then, I’ve had to sell my house. (Thank you, stupid economy.) So now I have two big, powerful, high-energy dogs in a two-bedroom apartment with a bitty yard. Walks and adventures have become mandatory. No skipping walks. It’s cruel to keep big animals cooped up.  Since I love them and I am a responsible dog owner, I walk the bejeebers outa those girls.

Here is a huge benefit of owning a dog:  you must exercise, and you will not be excused from it for any reason.

My dogs LIVE for their walks.  They are hyper-sensitive to any indication that a walk is imminent. If I so much as touch a plastic bag, their ears perk up. If I pass near the hook where their leashes hang, their tails wag. I can’t even rummage in my sock drawer without triggering a surge of canine excitement, because socks mean shoes and shoes mean leaving the house and that means WE MIGHT GO FOR A WALK!

Usually I walk the dogs just before or after dinner. So if I’m lingering over dinner, the dogs are getting antsy.  Riz starts whining and giving me THE LOOK. The Look is beyond hopeful. It is urgent, pleading, how-can-I-go-on-living-if-you-don’t-walk-me-RIGHT-NOW desperate.  If you have a dog, you know The Look.

You can’t tell them, sorry; I’ve just done six loads of laundry and I’m too tired to walk you. They don’t care if you have cramps or you’re not in the mood. They NEED to walk.  And since they need it, I do it.

Please refer back seven paragraphs to the point of this post, because there is one.  What I’m saying is, I exercise because my dogs need it. Never mind that I am an overweight woman with depressive tendencies, and exercise is critical for my well-being.  As a matter of fact, like all humans, I am also a big, powerful animal.  Humans also need exercise to keep from being pent up and miserable.  Especially me.  So why does it take 110 pounds of begging, whining pit bull to keep me motivated? I don’t know, but I’m grateful for them.  For a long time, dog walking was the only exercise I got. I’d be the size of a hippo by now if it weren’t for their zero-tolerance no-laziness policy.

Then there’s the matter of diet. (O, Diet, how you plague my soul!) Will I ever really get a grip on my diet?

My dogs get exactly three cups of kibble each, every day, at regular intervals.  They get treats, but not too many. They get table scraps in small amounts, and I do indulge Riz’s weakness for “pizza bones.” (Pizza bones are crusts, and Riz has a weakness for them because I have a weakness for pizza.) But I am very aware that if I give them too many fatty scraps, it will mess with their systems, so I don’t overdo it.  I buy them quality food and I read the label to make sure they’re getting what they need.  If I know that a food is dangerous to dogs, they will never get it. Period.

You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Would I let my dogs eat nothing but fast food all weekend just because my daughter isn’t home and I don’t need to cook? No. Because that would be terrible for them, and I wouldn’t do that to my dogs.

Would I buy them super cheap dog food, full of corn meal and by-products, because it is yummy and they’d happily hork it down with delight? No. Because health is more important than the fleeting pleasure of horking down Zingers.  Wait, not Zingers…I meant cheap dog food. Zingers are what I hork down for fleeting pleasure.  And I sure as heck wouldn’t share them with the dogs.

Dogs will eat all kinds of horrible things with gusto, but I guard them from that, because I love them and want them to be healthy.

If only I could guard my own diet with the same vigilance.  If only I could balance my self-indulgence with concern for my well-being. If only I valued my own health as highly as my dogs’…because that’s what it means, doesn’t it?

Why don’t I? I’m pretty lovable, too.  I will try to remind myself of that the next time I run into a Zinger.






1 thought on “The Care & Feeding of Pets and People

  1. Maybe when you become a Mom you get used to putting everyones needs before your own. As a crazy dog owner who crochets sweaters for her dogs but goes to Science camp without a nifty crocheted beanie herself, I understand completely. Thank goodness there are dogs to put some much needed balance back into our lives.

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