Ever have one of those afternoons where the small hole in your “SuperMom” spandex suit is exposed? It’s that moment when you find out that what you have been doing all along has not exactly been the right way to do something. It has been way off. In fact, it has been WEIGH off. I felt the embarrassment and shame of a negligent mother as the veterinarian and his technician kindly explained the errors of my efforts.
“How much have you been feeding Summer?”
“How often in the day?”
“What exactly is the dog food you have been giving her?”
It was a combination of the questions coming my way and the glances exchanged by the two of them. I fumbled with my earnest answers and my own set of questions, “ A scoop of Ultra puppy food three times a day for each puppy. Is that too much? Have I been overfeeding them? How much should they be eating at this age? How big are they supposed to be?”
Let’s back up. The hurting squinty eyes of poor sweet Summer are what brought us into the animal clinic yesterday afternoon. In the waiting room is a large scale that dogs can be led onto for measuring their weight. It’s part of checking in. Summer must have known she’d be tipping the scale and she resisted, so I had to forcefully nudge her. There is a neon lit up sign high above the scale so the receptionist can see and record the number. I whispered to Summer, “Yeah, I hate scales too, sorry you have to go through this.”
“SIXTY-TWO” pounds was announced by the gentleman behind the desk. Yikes. I shook my head and said, “That breeder is such a liar. She told us these dogs would reach 50 lbs at adulthood and they are only ten months old.” Soon after, Summer and I were led into the observation room. It was not the squinty goopy eyes that the technician first commented about, but Summer’s size. I babbled on about the breeder misleading us about the projected growth.
Then there was a moment of clarity for me. Her 62 pounds was not a result of a giant poodle father we never met. Our Sweet Summer was getting chubby. I’m not sure what knocked me over the head to realize this. Perhaps it was when the petite technician placed both of her hands around Summer’s non existent waistline, feeling around for ribs. It may also have been when another technician came in to check out the whoopla with the giant doodle.
Embarrassed and trying to explain myself, I blurted out, “Is she fat? Oh my! I had no idea. I really thought that was the shape of the aussiedoodle. Koda has a big midline too. I just assumed this was the shape of these thick doodles.” The embarrassment grew exponentially as the questioning of amounts and frequency of feeding continued.
Here is the simple truth: I was giving each dog a solo cup size scoop (16 ounces) of puppy food (high calorie) three times a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Apparently that is way too much. The vet brought me a plastic measuring cup that looked like a shot glass next to a solo cup. Twice a day, each puppy should get ONE of those teeny tiny cups of dog food. It makes my head dizzy to even do the math of how much more food I have been giving them. Plus, I sometimes would top off a little more food for them if they seem to be scrounging around later in the evening. AHHH!
What have I done?!
I am reminded of the children’s book. Fish Out of Water. A boy brings home a fish and is warned by the pet store clerk, Mr. Carp, to not overfeed the fish. “Never feed him a lot. So much, and no more! Never more than a spot! Or something may happen. You never know what!” The boy ends up overfeeding his fish named Otto. The fish gets bigger and bigger, too large for his bowl, the bath tub, the swimming pool…
Summer is not Otto, she is a few pounds heavier and a few inches thicker around the middle but she still fits in the crate, the car and the house. I came home from the vet with new feeding instructions, a little medication for her eye, and that tiny plastic shot glass of a measuring tool. I will do my best to get both dogs on a better eating schedule. I still feel bad about this and wonder how I could have miscalculated the correct food amounts to give them. I remember when my children were babies, being told your baby was a good eater was actually a big complement to a new mom. Somewhere in these past ten months my fur babies went from being good eaters to way-too-good eaters. It’s up to me, their mama bear, to correct this.
As the vet says, it’s simple math, calories in and calories out. I’m not so bad at math, it’s the calorie counting that gets me. Never fear, puppies! Summer, Koda: We got this!