Russell, Party of Two…

Published 1:40 pm Thursday, November 19, 2009

Because Bonnie, the big sister of our other terrier, Rosie, has begun showing such an impressive display of middle-aged spread that she now resembles a float in the Macys Thanksgiving Parade, Paul and I knew drastic actions were called for.
It still amazes me that she can possibly be fat. To begin with, Bonnie is a very leggy Jack Russell ~ we share the same inseam~ and she grew so rapidly that it was impossible to keep weight on her. Well-meaning friends would not infrequently comment, Are you sure shes eating enough? which always stung, as I, having the same build and metabolism, had had the same thing asked of me my entire life. The fact that she was raised on our farm, indulging daily in Jack Crack, i.e., chasing squirrels, also assisted in keeping her as lean and drawn as a Kenyan track star.
But now as an eight year old, despite her continued foray as Chief Rodent Detective, her wasp waist has completely disappeared and, instead, she is shaped like a football on legs. We stopped free feeding the dogs and began feeding expensive, lite, dog foods to no avail. While Rosie began losing weight, Bonnie was still enormous.
After dutiful research on the web, I declared to Paul that the best thing to do was to begin cooking the dogs meals ourselves. My theory was we could completely control not only portion, but ingredients and their quality: brown rice, vegetables, perhaps a little meat or tofu. Paul, a frustrated gourmet whose most ambitious creations are completely wasted on me ~ why anyone would prepare chilled pea soup with a hint of mint and yogurt when theres a can of Campbells Tomato in the cupboard is beyond comprehension ~ began to take on a gleam in his eyes that I havent seen since he spied Chanterelle mushrooms at an upscale shop in Asheville. Like a man possessed, he immediately sat down and put pen to paper.
What are you doing? I asked cautiously.
Preparing their weekly menu. It takes shopping, planning… the rest of the sentence died on his lips as he began writing feverishly.
I was just thinking brown rice, a bag of frozen peas and carrots and some kind of protein. I muttered.
His response was a glance that could only be described as pitying and, grabbing his wallet and keys, was out the door.
The first evening, the dogs stared confusedly at their empty kibble bowl in the mudroom and came only reluctantly into the kitchen when Paul called them. Heaping spoonfuls of brown rice, lightly sauted vegetables and beautifully cooked bits of salmon in a blueberry coulis onto Spode salad plates and setting it down before them, Bonnie and Rosie refused to come near, quite certain they would be reprimanded for approaching what must clearly be their masters food. When finally convinced it was theirs, both dogs hurled themselves into each dish, inhaling their respective meals in under a minute. Worse still, Rosie began barking at us while we ate our dinner, as she was sure it was hers.
After a week, Paul frowned as Bonnie looked larger than ever. Perhaps its the starter and the cheese course I suggested, to which he nodded. Portions were weighed and measured, nutrients balanced and within four days, slight indentations were seen on either side of Bonnies waist. No more Snausages were purchased, instead, the dogs could have an almond or two during the cocktail hour or perhaps a baby carrot dipped in Sesame seed dressing. Success was soon realized: Bonnie regained her youthful figure and Rosie looked fleshed out and vibrant.
Just goes to show that a balanced diet and exercise is all it takes to lose weight! I said, taking a bite of the pizza I had just picked up at the Spinx station. But there is truth in it: while countless Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on the latest diet craze and fad, Paul and I are tempted to jump on the commercial bandwagon and open our home as an expensive fat farm. Success in one week will be guaranteed to all clients by merely eating well and playing fetch.