I waited patiently. My eyes never left the edge of the table. It’ll come soon, I thought. Until then, I would wait. And wait.
The aroma of the steak dripping in barbeque sauce was overwhelming. You could almost swim in it.
Finally, the wait came to an end. A monochrome chunk of meat fall towards the hardwood floor. Plunk. Delighted, I hefted my furry, golden body towards the hunk of steak and inhaled it.
It was like this almost everyday. The humans made their food first, then they made mine. It was usually some sort of dried kibble, a bone to gnaw on, and some water. But, I never felt full after finishing my meal. That was when it started. The trick is to make puppy-eyes and turn your head to the side a little. They’re sure to give you a piece if you do that.
The second meal of the day was over, so I went ahead and trotted slowly towards the backyard. As I passed the hall mirror — which I no longer barked at — I saw a dog who was too large at the belly, too tired in the eyes, and too droopy in the ears. Everything felt different. It was harder to run, harder to catch a ball, sometimes even harder to breathe. It wasn’t like this before.
“Cooper! Let’s play! Come on, boy, look! It’s a frisbee!” I was on the porch, and the younger human was leaning over me, holding a round, gray disk. Habitually, adrenaline began to run through my clogged arteries. I jumped around and let loose a few barks, not feeling tired at all.
He threw the frisbee, flicking his pudgy little wrist, and I loped after it, completely focused. The disc glided in an arc, slowing down ever so slightly. I took the chance and leaped off of my hind legs, letting the movement come naturally. The frisbee came closer and closer, and I bit down on it with my canine mouth.
It was almost as satisfying as eating a steak. I trotted back to the human for another throw. He loosened the disc out of my unwilling jaw and ruffled the fur on my head. Neither of us noticed my heavy breathing after just one throw. The boy flung the frisbee once again, this time a little harder. I galloped after it. This time something was off. I had to slow down because I couldn’t get enough air. The green lawn felt like it was spinning. My legs gave out, and I heard the human yell, “Cooper?! MOOOM, DAAAD, COME HERE!!” The frisbee landed on the ground, and the monochrome world I lived in faded to black.
This story is based on a recent article about pet “fat farms”, where overweight furry friends go to slim down and detox. Pet obesity rates are rising, and they can suffer from “human” problems, like diabetes, heart disease, and decreased life expectancy.
Words by Sophia Wu, Image via findavet.us, Editing by Mike and Sarah