The first thing I noticed about the dog was that he was much too thin. Whatever illness had brought him to see me had obviously
taken a toll on his physique.
At least, that's what I thought until I looked at the other end of the leash. There stood Anna Rexic. Her dog, Azarail, was
thin by design.
"I'm sorry to waste your time, Doctor, but my friend Norma insisted that we come to see you. She says that Aza-rial is too
thin. That's her, out in your waiting room."
At that point she lowered her voice and whispered, "You know how fat people are, Doctor. They think everyone else should be
I stepped out into the hallway and took a look at Norma. She was anything but fat. I suspected as much, because Anna Rexic
thinks that a person is obese if every bone in his or her skele-ton is not prominently displayed. In fact, Anna herself resembled
a bag of wrenches and Azarail was almost as bad. "What did he weigh the last time we were here?" she asked.
I tried to point out that his weight of 30 pounds at his previous visit was irrelevant since it was almost two years ago and
that he was only 6 months old at the time. She didn't seem to hear me, though. So, when I announced that he now weighs 44
pounds, she was elated.
"There, you see! He actually gained weight," she said. "I guess that proves there is nothing wrong."
I tried to explain that a dog his size should weigh at least 55 or 60 pounds. (I might as well have been talking to a real
bag of wrenches.)
"You know, Doctor," she began. "There are a lot of health issues connected with obesity. I don't want to take the risk that
he could develop arthritis, heart disease or diabetes. Besides, my last two dogs were thin like Azarail, and they did fine.
Don't you remember them, Filament and Pencil?"
As a matter of fact, I did remember them. They were Whippets. Azarail is a Labrador. I did my best to point out the difference.
As you might expect, I got nowhere. It was time to be blunt.
"Forty-four pounds is an unhealthy weight for this dog," I said. "I am going to write down some instructions for you concerning
how to feed him, and I'm going to put him on a special diet so we can slowly bring him up to normal.
"And I want to see him again and weigh him in one month. Believe me, it is for his own good."
She actually seemed to listen. At least I thought so until I heard her speak to her friend Norma.
"You were worried for nothing," she said to her friend. "It turns out that Azarail has actually gained weight since his last
visit. In fact, the doctor wants to put him on a diet."
Dr. Obenski owns Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.