THIS DOG and the Fountain of Youth

bergie beach
Bergie’s first day at the beach. It took an hour, but she finally realized that the waves were not attacking us, and so stopped barking and herding me back toward the road.

THIS DOG has outgrown her harness.  She is slimming down and bulking up at the same time. It’s bizarre.

She was a giant sausage link when we got her, so we’ve been diligently working to help her get svelte and sleek (and healthy) in time for beach season. We do 4-5 walks a day. Sometimes we jog, even though we look ridiculous (I’m sure the neighbors love the entertainment).  And almost two months later, if you look at Bergie from above, she has the faintest hint of a waist – her stomach slopes a tiny bit in before her hipbones, whereas before it bulged decidedly out.  (On a recent episode of The Dog Whisperer, one guy called his dog “The Ham Missile” because she would gallop at you looking like she’d just devoured a whole pig. That was our Bergie.)

But even as the center cut of our ham missile now looks more like a friendly

Slimmed down Bergie! See that SLIGHT hint of a waist? Progress, not perfection :)
Slimmed down Bergie! See that SLIGHT hint of a waist?

pork chop, her chest and head look like a beagle ate a polar bear. She’s more burly.  The strap on her harness leaves imprints in her fur, and I had to adjust her collar the other day because it seemed smaller than I remembered.  Yesterday I took her to the dog park for the first time, and saw her alongside other dogs. It was a wakeup call. If you’d asked me before, I’d have said she was about the same hight, or perhaps a bit shorter, than a standard poodle. I’d have been wrong. I came home from our walk and googled, “When do big dogs stop growing?” because this all seemed so absurd.

I can’t weigh her, partly because we don’t own a scale, and partly because the standard recommendation that I weigh myself, then pick her up and weigh the two of us together so I can subtract the difference, is really just out of the question.

I wondered if perhaps the age we were told she was (3-4) is not the age she is.

It’s an imprecise science, guessing the age of rescued dogs. As I looked back through her paperwork, I saw that when Bergie was rescued last summer, someone estimated her age as a year and a half. She weighed 70lbs. But sometime in the following six months, one of the vets wrote  “three years” on her checkup report, which means THIS DOG miraculously doubled in age. But given that she also gained sixteen pounds in that short time, I suspect the first guess was more accurate, if not a few months shy of the truth.  An adult dog would have to eat A LOT of snausages to gain that much weight in six months.

Suddenly, some of her puppy-like behaviors make sense.  THIS DOG is still kind of a puppy.

I’m sure there’s a deep metaphor here for me to call out about how we’re all children underneath our adult facades, blah blah blah…But maybe the better point is this: You just never know.  About people, animals, circumstances, life.  It’s more interesting this way, albeit a tad more complex.  It helps to be adaptable, to roll with new information as it comes our way.  That’s what we’re doing with THIS DOG, and pretty much everything else. It’s how God keeps things interesting :)