Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Patches and Jaybo were suffering from “jello jiggles” and “muffin mounds”, according to Dr. Jennifer Gardner. To illustrate, she held up enough extra dog to make a good-sized rat terrier from Patches’ backside.
The lab-catahoula litter mates had spent the past year sitting in a barn at the rescue kennel getting fat. I had called on Dr. Gardner for advice to help them lose weight and become more adoptable.
At the rescue kennel they had plenty of room and their physical needs were met, but there was no stimulation in the dimly lit barn. Once a day the kennel manager cleaned their pen and put out fresh food and water. Boredom made them eat more than they needed.
As soon as I met them I put them on my list for walking, but it was apparent they needed more than two walks a week to get in shape. As soon as my foster dogs Johnny and Boomer went to new homes, I brought Jaybo and Patches home, not just because they needed a fitness program but because I was intrigued at their breeding and wanted to get to know them better.
Both Labradors and Catahoulas are known for close bonds with humans that make them excel at working and hunting. I was interested in how well their personalities had survived the past year of isolation. I found both dogs to be confident, optimistic and merry. It took two people to lift them into my car simply because they didn’t know about traveling, but once installed in my back seat, they enjoyed the ride.
I don’t know whether they had ever been inside a house before and they didn’t look like they had ever had a bath, but both of them trotted right into my house and enjoyed their baths. As always I was surprised at the difference a clean coat makes. Patches’ white gleamed like sunlight on snow, while Jaybo’s coat turned out to have beautiful gold and buff splashes.
One of the pleasures of fostering dogs is to turn them loose in my little three-acre pasture fenced for dogs and chickens. After spending months or years in pens, they can’t believe it’s OK to just run. Patches and Jaybo started out in a waddle, but after few days they were trotting, even loping a bit.
By the time Dr. Gardner came, they had been running twice a day for about a week. They were already getting waistlines and tucked tummies, losing that box-truck look.
Despite the muffin mounds and jello jiggles, Dr. Gardner’s exam showed them to be healthy, hearty dogs. Jaybo weighed in at 70 pounds and Patches at 62. She suggested an additional five-pound weight loss to make them fit for life. To get there, she suggested feeding a high quality food at the recommended amount for 50-60 pound dogs. In other words, feed them the amount suggested for their target weight. Their exercise program should increase gradually to prevent injury as their muscles develop and they lose fat. CARE, Inc. provided a bag of Blue Buffalo and I started off feeding them 12 ounces twice a day.
They loved the food, the exercise and being part of a real family. Two weeks later Dr. Gardner pronounced that Jaybo had lost four pounds and Patches had lost three. Without any more changes, they should continue to lose to their healthy weights.
Thanks to Dr. Gardner both Patches and Jaybo are fit and ready to go to forever homes, hopefully on estates or farms where they can live out the instincts of their breeding.
They have proved to be safe with cats, chickens and anything else inside our fences but they are alert watch dogs to any critter or vehicle approaching from the woods or the road. They have been the easiest dogs I have fostered, truly delightful and polite companions.