“Could you come and see our Rotti? We can’t get him in the car, because he’s a bit overweight. He’s having some trouble getting up and down…”
“Sure I can, be happy to,” I replied.
I heard a lot of very loud, scary sounding barking going on out the back when I stopped and opened the door, and thought to myself – “This might be an interesting visit.” However, the barking stopped pretty quickly. That’s unusual – mostly a dog that barks will keep going until you get inside, and they’ve had a chance to meet you.
“I have to warn you, he’s pretty big!” the man told me.
And he was. the. fattest. dog. I. have. ever. seen!!! His back was quite literally like a coffee table- flat, and about 2 feet across. He was lying down when the door opened, but he did struggle to his feet to come over and have a sniff. And a struggle it was, it took him minutes to heave himself up, and then every step was an effort. He could only manage to hold his bulk off the ground for 5 minutes or so before he had to flop down again.
“Oh dear!” I said to the owners. “How much does he weigh?”
“About 85-90 kg, we think. There’s no way we can get him in the car, you see. We rehomed him, and his first owners had a pie shop. Well- all the leftover pies, there they are walking around. He’s the greediest dog we’ve ever had anything to do with, all he thinks about is eating!” They looked worried about their dog.
“Have you put him on a diet?” I asked.
Guilty looks flashed across their faces. “Well, we tried, but he kept looking at us…”
Oh yes – the “I’m dying of starvation look”, where they fix you with their big, sad, brown eyes, and before you know it, you’ve given them a bit more to eat, because they look so hungry and pathetic. I had a long talk about diet, and at the same time I could see that these people didn’t have the will to make this dog hungry enough to actually lose weight. I put him on some medication to help his poor, worn out, arthritic frame be a bit more comfortable. And I explained that he was old before his time, and wasn’t likely to live a very long life.
I saw him quite a few times over the next 2 years or so, and every time I told them to feed him less. I think he might have lost a pound or two, but he didn’t really get any skinnier. Then one day his body simply gave up, and he couldn’t get to his feet. I put him to sleep, and they had to get a backhoe in to dig his grave.
I couldn’t find it in me to judge these people. They truly loved the big fella, and the damage had been done before they got him. They gave him a good home, and did what they could to help him have a good life.