“Hello dear, I was wondering if you come and give our old dog a checkup again? He’s almost out of his arthritis medicine, and he really struggles without it…” I knew the voice, a lovely old lady who lived a bit out of Townsville on acreage. I’d been there to see there dog many times.
“Yes, I can see the old fellow on Thursday – will you be home?” I asked.
“Yes dear, I’ll be home on that day after lunch,” she said.
It was a sunny spring day, clear and fresh, with everything seeming more alive than usual. I rolled out through the industrial estate, huge sheds and warehouses looming on either side, emblazoned with bright logos. Then I swung onto the highway, and headed North, through the flat, sere, dry coastal plains around the city. Before too long I was pulling into their driveway.
Their dog, a hugely obese blue cattle dog, heaved himself to his feet, and waddled out to greet me, tail wagging madly, and a big grin splitting his head in half. A moment later his mum came out the front door, as always beautifully dressed, not a hair out of place.
“Hello dear,” she said, with a smile.
“Nice to see you again,” I replied. “How’s the old fellow going?”
“He’s much the same, still having trouble getting up and down, and there’s no way he can get into the car any more. BUt he’s happy enough, and he loves his dinner!”
“Yes, I can see that…” I wagged a stern finger at her, and tongue in cheek, said “This must be the fifth time I’ve told you that he absolutely needs to go on a strict diet. He’s as big as a house, and it’s half his problem with the arthritis…”
“Oh I know dear, but my husband simply can’t resist those big brown eyes, you know, and all those little titbits and treats must add up,” she explained. “He’s his dog, and I’ve tried and tried to get him to cut down his food, but it makes him so happy to be well fed, you know. And if you do cut back his food, he’s the most annoying dog you could possibly imagine.”
I knew full well that they were never going to put their dog on a serious diet, and she knew that I knew, but I had to try, for the sake for the dog. It was the same every visit, the big round old dog would stagger out, happy to see me, then flop down panting after only 5 minutes or so. He’d get up if anything new happened, but he simply couldn’t hold himself up for too long. And I’d explain again and again how bad it was for his health to be so overweight, and her eyes would glaze over just a little, even though she was nodding away politely, and I knew that what I was saying was either bouncing right off, or passing through without touching the slightest bit of understanding. But you can olnly do what you can do, and people will end up doing what they want to do, in the end. He was a happy old dog, after all!
“Oh well. I’ll give you some more meloxicam. It will help him be in less pain, in any case. He’s a friendly old fellow, so we’ll keep him as comfortable as possible,” I said.
“Yes- it really does make a difference for him,” she said.
I dispensed the medicine, and we chatted away about the weather, and local news for a while. I was in no rush, and the conversations were always interesting and far ranging. She was a bright old bird, full of interesting stories. Finally, I got back into my van, and rolled off to my next visit.