What’s a Mother to Do?
by Ann Edwards Cannon

Chapter 27
Dog on a Diet 

[p.82]It’s only a month into the year and already I can tell I’m going to have to admit defeat in the new year’s resolution department.

I used to make the same new year’s resolution every year. I used to promise my self during the holidays that beginning January 1st I would go on the diet favored by all those guys I knew in high school who used to wrestle in the featherweight division—the one where you have to be forty pounds or under. This diet, known as the PROVO HIGH SCHOOL’S DROP TILL YOU DROP program, was so strict that biting your fingernails or sneaking drinks from the water fountain were considered forms of cheating. No doubt about it, the program was brutal. By the time those kids stopped dieting, they’d not only lost weight, they’d also lost some of their hair and teeth. But hey! They got results! They looked great—as long as they didn’t smile—and they were thin. Which is what I would be too once I started dieting after the first of the year, I told myself. Meanwhile I spent December tucking into a cheeseball here and a mince pie there with a minimum of guilt.

Problem was it was always hard to stop doing in January what I had been doing so well for so long. From Halloween until New Year’s Day I had eaten like a pro. Eating, in fact, had become my favorite contact sport, and like any dedicated athlete at the pinnacle of her powers, I was loathe to suddenly become a mere spectator, sitting on the sidelines while everyone else was sitting at the table.

Sadly, I have accepted the fact that I am completely incapable of losing weight during the month of January. For this reason, when New Year’s rolled around again, I didn’t make a resolution to go on a diet. I decided to put my dog Bogie on a diet instead.

Actually, I would have had to make the decision to put Bogie on a diet sooner or later. For a long time now people have been dropping subtle hints about Bogie’s bulk. “Gee,” they all say, “that little dog of yours sure is fat.” Bogie shrugs when he hears this sort of comment. He figures that people are just jealous. Meanwhile he sits on [p.83]the couch all day long eating pork rinds and watching reruns of The Love Boat.

The truth is that eating is the closest thing Bogie ever has to a religious experience. Six times a day he kneels and faces in the direction of the nearest Winchell’s. While most people want to be sent to heaven for doing good deeds in this lifetime, Bogie just wants to be sent to Chuck-a-Rama.

Things came to a head one morning right before Christmas, however, when Bogie and I stopped at a gas station to get me a Dr. Pepper after one of our early morning waddles. While I was plunking quarters in the machine out front, Bogie squirted (if a dog of his dimensions can truly be said to squirt) through the gas station door and headed straight for the potato chip rack. At first I was impressed that a dog I had raised from a pup was smart enough to immediately

locate the food aisle in a place he’d never been before. But as soon as the service station attendant began to scream and flap his arms around, I came to my senses. I pulled Bogie away from the pretzels, apologized to everyone present, and left with my dog bundled under my arm like so much sausage.

“That does it!” I yelled when we were outside again. “Come January 1st, you’re going on a diet!”

Bogie just thought that I was making one of my little jokes, like that time I told him he smells bad when the weather is warm. But I made good on my promise. As soon as the new year started, I put Bogie on a diet. I even gave him a list of fat-fighting suggestions from Mademoiselle magazine to assist him in his quest for thinness. They include the following:

• Drink at least eight glasses of water daily.
• Eat your meals from a smaller plate or dog bowl.
• Make eating a pure experience: do not watch TV, read a book, or chase a bicycle while    you are chewing your food.
• Imagine how terrific you’ll look in a bikini this summer.

I also encouraged Bogie to keep a detailed food diary noting the kinds and amounts of food consumed, as well as his emotional state while eating said food. The idea here was to help Bogie discover destructive behavioral patterns that could be successfully modified.

Well, I just took a look at old Bogie’s diary, and I was disheart-[p.84]ened to see that he hasn’t written down a thing since January 1. Not one word. There are probably a lot of reasons for this, one of which is that Bogie doesn’t know how to write. But even if he could write, he wouldn’t.

He’s way too busy sneaking Oreos when he thinks I’m not looking.