October 12 marks the fifth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. It is also, fittingly enough, the release date of a new book entitled Dieting With My Dog, by Peggy Frezon.
When Frezon’s veterinarian warned her that Kelly, her Cocker Spaniel-Dachshund mix, was at an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and bone and joint problems due to her weight, Frezon realized she had heard the same cautionary advice from her own physician. She quickly made the decision that they would get fit together. Since their journey began, Frezon has lost 41 pounds and Kelly has lost 6 pounds (or 15 percent of her body weight).
"I started off making better choices about what I ate. Not only had I neglected fresh vegetables for myself, but I never knew before that they are good for dogs," said Frezon. "Kelly often gets hungry late at night, and instead of feeding her 'second dinner,' now we give her baby carrots. It's funny, because we toss them as far as we can, up the stairs, down the hall, so she's also getting exercise as she snacks. She loves them!"
Frezon calls Kelly her "furry fitness trainer," as Kelly provides motivation and encouragement for them to both stay active.
"I work from home at the computer all day, and Kelly used to sleep at my feet and barely move around much — except when we took a stroll to the kitchen," said Frezon. "Now, if I've been working too long, she comes up to my desk, jumps up, and slaps her paw on my keyboard."
One of the important lessons Frezon learned in her weight loss journey with her pooch was to make sure she measured her dog’s food. She used to give Kelly "one scoop," but then found out that one scoop was four times as much as Kelly needed.
"Kelly will eat whatever I feed her. It's up to ME to make the right choices," said Frezon. "I used to think that my dog is so cute and loving, she deserves lots of treats and cookies. But what she really needs is someone who loves her enough to keep her healthy, and to stay healthy for her, too."
In Dieting With My Dog, Frezon reveals the struggles inherent in weight loss, but beyond that she tells the story of the bond between a pet and her owner. As Frezon puts it, the story reveals how closely we are bonded to our pets in our trials, and especially in our victories.