Sunday, April 8, 2012

Born To Be Wide

Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
    His wife could eat no lean,
And so betwixt them both, you see,
    They licked the platter clean.

In a household of dogs, I call licking the platter the first cycle of the dishwashing process.  They do enjoy it so much, and I hate to deprive them of this seemingly innocent pleasure.  But sometimes good intentions can  be led astray. This is the story of the dogs Alice and Monica; one who is fat, and one who is lean. This is a dog blog.

Alice shows a svelte silhouette shot at the shelter. 

The fatness of Alice didn't start that way.  Some of you may recall her adoption a couple of years ago.  She had the look of a junkyard dog with a wiry brindle coat. Naming her Alice was an attempt to impart some femininity to her appearance. Here she is shown at a trim 32 pounds. I thought she looked a bit lean.  Her ensuing weight-gain, I supposed was due to dietary deprivations suffered while out on the lam. Actually, I felt we had a lot in common, having grown up with six siblings and never knowing where my next meal would be coming from.

Chewbacca, Dog of Flanders

Alice was chosen to be a companion to Chewy, but we found that Chewy, being 10 years of age, could not care less about the 2-year old upstart. The love match that I had hoped to make was a complete failure.  Chewy was aloof to her attentions and I anthropomorphically felt that she languished in the relationship.

Alice enjoying street food.

As it turned out, Alice was mostly interested in eating.  Apart from the 5 course meals she would find on her daily walks, she was frequently getting into the cat food and Chewy's, too, if he didn't eat it fast enough.   The new dog from the pound started to put on pounds.  I personally thought she had just 'filled out' a little, but a trip to the vet produced surprising concern.  Even the receptionist commented that she didn't have "much of a waist", which, looking at the receptionist, was calling the kettle black. Alice had mysteriously ballooned to 42 pounds!  Seemed like she was being fed next to nothing, but perhaps the stolen snacks and street food were taking their toll. Had her tail been straightened and was she a pot-bellied pig in disguise?  Had she been mis-identified at the animal shelter? 

When Emily visited with her own newly adopted dog, Monica, Alice found a fast friend.  You might make the mistake of thinking that Monica is malnourished, but she is part Whippet, which is a racing breed that is naturally slender.  She is extremely agile and can run like the wind.  Alice tries valiantly to keep up, but to no avail; not many dogs are as fast and willowy as Monica.  Not many dogs are as fat and wide as Alice.  She and Monica are a study in contrasts, like Lady and the Tramp.  Like a junkyard dog, Alice can't get enough to eat, and like a lady,  Monica is dainty and disinterested in all-you-can-eat buffets .


It was decided that the two young dogs would be better off with each other, plus, there was the hope that Alice would lose a few pounds with the extra exercise of playing with Monica and visits to the Dog Bark. Seems like an oxymoron to go to New Orleans to lose weight, but off to the 'fat farm' she went.  At first, things seemed to improve, and regulars of the Dog Bark complimented Alice's new figure, saying that "she looked less like a potato" and "had developed the semblance of a waist".  But the waist was not won for long.

Alice in her favorite play position

Despite a seemingly stringent diet, Alice exploits a household of 20-something roommates who are sometimes unwittingly careless.  A carrot cake, for instance, was too close to the counter edge.  A visit from a Bolivian study-abroad house guest resulted in the mysterious disappearance of his sheep-hoof necklace, a full bag of cocoa, and another trip to the vet.  "Oh, you like the snacks, don't you!", smirked Dr. Dog.  Alice did not eat for three days.

Alice in Underwear 

There's no sexy Victoria's Secret for this mutt!  Emily got some 'emergency underwear' as a gag gift when she recently went to South America.  It was a little paper packet that expanded when put in a glass of water. It seemed to be on the large size, but Emily decided the size was just right for Alice.

Arcs in space - one thick and one thin

"Now I know it might be unrealistic to expect her to get back down to 32 pounds, but maybe you could go for 34 or 35", the vet gently offered.  At their most recent visit, Emily hadn't volunteered discussion about Alice's weight, but the vet brought it up as if to a parent bringing in an obese child.  "I guess I can see it now, but I just wanted to believe that she was husky", explains Emily.  Dog Bark regulars sympathized that maybe she was "just a chunky little brewster and there's nothing you can do about it".  

New Orleans-style King cake with plastic Baby Jesus in center

It didn't help her gluttonous reputation that at a recent Mardi Gras party, Alice got into the King cake, but in this case, we should call it the Queen cake.  Custom is that whoever gets the piece containing the baby is King or Queen of the day.  Fortunately, Alice threw up the baby and escaped another trip to Dr. Dog. When Emily told me this story, I took her literally and thought that Alice had thrown up on an actual baby in attendance.

Queen Alice, queen-size on the queen bed
aka "The Bearded Weasel" for her interests in burrowing into holes
aka "Dr. Alice B. Scruffington" for her medical acuity

Alice snores.  She growls if you try to push her cinder-block-like body away on couch or bed.  Although loved by her guardians, she seems to take pride in her savagery.  As if of an ancient barbarian culture that can never forget her scavenger roots, she is only partially domesticated and diet-defiant.  Alice is wild and wire-haired, and perhaps as a new American breed, born to be wide.


  1. Hi Renee! We've always had cats around our place. So it was fun to hear what you had to tell about you dogs esp. about Alice! You have a good flair for writing. I always look forward to your next entry! Arthur

  2. Thanks, Arthur! What greater love and loyalty than from a cat or dog? But like children, they are a big responsibility!

  3. This one is hilarious! What a transition from the skinny dog we first adopted.

  4. My room mate, saw the last picture of Alice and said, "That's so Alice."

  5. Thank you for your fine reporting contributions, Emily, on this serious and weighty issue!