It's just shy of a year that my family adopted Aggie, our black and white puppy. She had some pretty big paws to fill-our previous pet, a shepherd/collie mix, was a delightful companion for 12 years-but Aggie has settled herself into our home and hearts.
Aggie is a crazy ball of energy without an off switch, so it came as a surprise when our veterinarian asked us to reduce her food intake because she was gaining too much weight. So we cut her back from a cup of kibble twice a day to three-quarters of a cup every morning and afternoon. We were just trying to be responsible pet owners, but that simple act ignited what our family refers to as "the battle of the bulge."
Our doggie, unhappy with her new diet regimen, responded with a sneak attack at the dinner table. Quick thinking and even quicker hands on my family's part saved the bulk of our dinner, but Aggie still managed to scarf up an entire stick of margarine. (Note to self: ask the vet if there is a canine version of Lipitor available.)
Aggie next made the tactical move of commandeering the kitchen wastebasket as her own personal mess hall when we were out. We'd kennel her the next day while we were at work, but she would prove just as committed to her raids when we once again gave her free reign.
Exasperated as the war dragged on, I decided to attempt some peace talks with the puppy. Doing my best to emulate Jimmy Carter, I got down on the kitchen floor and pointed at the wastebasket. "That's BAD. That's NO. Aggie don't touch BAD thing. No, no, YUCK." I could tell Aggie got the message because she wouldn't look me directly in the eyes.
I returned home from work, eager to see the results of the morning discussion. I opened the kitchen door and was greeted by torn-open boxes of saltines, taco shells, and rice. This tiny little dog had somehow managed to pry open our five-foot tall pantry door and have herself an eight-hour feast. The wastebasket, however, sat upright and untouched.
You have to celebrate the little victories
Ian Eastman, M.A., is a community educator with Family Services of Warren County-a charitable agency that provides counseling, substance abuse services, and support groups.