Skinny Daily Post


Jane and I had a nice chat on the phone yesterday, something we don’t do often enough, I’m afraid. We tried to catch up, compare notes on parents’ meds, yak about books out, Skinny Daily Plans (oh the plans!). And as always we end on the subject of our dogs. We love our dogs. Her Maggie. My Stafford and Charlie.

At the beginning of the day, at the end of the day, my dogs are there, reminding me that I work to put a roof over their heads and a down comforter under their bellies, and organic food in their bowls. And these are good reasons to work. They really are. They are good reasons because dogs make good teachers. If you haven’t received any of the overly cc’d emails recounting all the bits of wisdom dogs have to offer us, then you must not be reading this. I am convinced they come bundled into operating systems.

So while the world doesn’t need me to add to the canon of dog wisdom literature, this is a blog, darn it, a genre that celebrates the unnecessary word, the mundane, the redundant. I love this genre precisely because saying what doesn’t need to be said over and over again is just what we celebrate. It is the genre of the human condition. And we humans love our doggies.

Lately I’ve been contemplating just how self-punishing we seem to be, we people who worry about our weight. I finally listened to audiotapes of The Da Vinci Code (I couldn’t read the book, but I could listen to it — perfect for knitting to), and became interested in the poor Albino monk, Silas’ “Pain is Good” mantra. His self mutilation. I know it’s not EXACTLY the same thing, but I’ve been comparing his discipline to some of my dieting behaviors — the way I have forced myself to wear pants that are too tight or have allowed myself groggy days after a night when my hunger was so painful, I couldn’t sleep, or days when through over-exercise I have shin pain that makes it hard to hear what other people are saying to me. One of our commenters a few days ago, who shares the same behaviors, has been told she has bulimic tendencies. That really caught my attention. How much of my maintenance behaviors waft over into abuse? Into some sense that berating or belittling myself is appropriate discipline? Where is the delicate balance between a healthy self discipline and self loathing? Is discipline even a word I should use any more? That word just makes me flinch.

And then there are my dogs. My dogs, left almost to their own devices, maintain healthy bodies. They eat well and regularly without guilt or comment. They really enjoy their food when they’re eating, and when they’re not, they are busy enjoying other things. Like napping. And squirrel watching. They exercise exactly as much as they need to and in ways that sustain their interest and promote their joy. (Charlie runs and runs, pell-mell, willy-nilly. Stafford moseys and sniffs.) They rest well, blissfully, without guilt, without anxiety. They allow others to admire them. They seek out affection and give it freely. They maintain a passionate interest in those things that interest them most. No regrets. No worries.

I’m going to be a dog when I grow up. It’ll take a lot of practice. But I’m going to get there. Got dogs? Got cats? Got kids? What can you learn about maintaining your body in a respectful way from them? Do tell…

Here are my princes.

9 thoughts on “A Dog’s Life

  1. jonquil says:

    Notice how the dogs are TOTALLY relaxed at all times? This strikes me as significant.

  2. Debbi says:

    One thing I think I should do for my self (and others) that my dogs do for me is to love unconditionally. Doesn’t matter if I’m sad, mad or glad, my dogs treat me like a queen. I only treat me like a queen if I’ve gotten all my water in, done the intentional activity I’d scheduled, bettered my performance, eaten perfectly and logged it, etc. Dogs don’t judge, either themselves or others. They’re better people than we usually are!

  3. puglover says:

    I so agree! It pains me to see us lose weight, improve the quality of our lives, and never, ever stop to enjoy the process or the results.
    You are so right; we must be more like our canine children and live in the now-the MOST important food I’ll ever eat or exercise I’ll ever do or moment I’ll ever live is the next one. I need to focus directly on that and manage it and revel in it.
    I can not let one more moment of my life slip by without appreciating something positive about me. Bonnie Raitt sang “…time gets more precious when there is less of it to waste…’ and I have wasted enough time feeling I am somehow LESS than I should be.
    I am involved in the process of my life. Feeding myself what makes me feel strong and vital; moving and learning to enjoy the movement and the strength it implies; wearing whatever fits best TODAY and not squeezing into something too tight in some form of primitive punishment for the sin of being LESS than. Never striving to be perfect since perfection is a myth-simply living this moment and learning from my mistakes when I make them.
    As for the word discipline; it used to mean following a discipline of sorts ( dogma, religion, set of rules, whatever). Somehow, in this world it has come to carry the baggage of ‘punishment’. Maybe we need a new word……after all, following a discipline of my CHOICE is wonderful, isn’t it?

  4. snitz says:

    Now that’s the perfect way to start my day—All those Princes!!!!!

  5. Kathy says:

    The effortless and instinctive way my dogs care for themselves amazes me as well. I have sometimes noticed one tiny little piece of kibble in their bowl after suppertime, while they contendedly lick themselves on the sofa. This amazes me, as it is something that I seldom can accomplish, even when my brain is signaling “full, full, full.”

  6. london slimmer says:

    God, I miss my dog terribly. I used to have a wonderful dog when I lived in the States, but gave him away to a friend when I moved to a small flat in central London, where pets are not allowed. It was a case of a choice between my dog and my husband, whose work is here in London!

    I was shocked, in the States, to discover that many of my colleagues didn’t walk their dogs regularly, thinking that just letting them run around in the back garden on their own was enough exercise, so I took to walking their dogs along with my own – for fun, not money. I averaged several hours a day of dogwalking, lost lots of weight effortlessly and really loved it. If you have a dog, you don’t need a pedometer.

    Your post rang a bell with me, as I’m trying to lose 5 extra pounds that have crept on and suddenly realised that I was trying way too hard and therefore setting myself up for failure. I’m a perfectionist and, I think, like the reader who posted yesterday might be setting myself up for bulimic tendencies or yo-yo dieting. Now, I’ve banished the scales and am going to try to lose weight by just cutting a couple of hundred calories a day until my trousers feel comfortable again (there’s no race, no need to lose at a certain, set rate) – and adding in extra exercise, but not in the form of the gym. My new rule is that it has to be something I love. Dancing is the first thing that comes to mind, but your post makes me think that maybe I should get down to the local dog shelter and offer my services.

  7. Amanda says:

    I can’t believe how perfectly-timed this entry is for me. Just this morning as I walked the 4 miles from my apt to work (half for the joy of being outdoors and half in guilt for eating too much ice cream last night), I mentally struggled to overcome the overwhelming feeling of “failure” for eating the aforementioned ice cream. Then I was struck with the thought: just where is the line between vigilance and obsession? Not so sure I know.

    This was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks so much!

  8. Pat says:

    And to think…I thought it was funny when my son, at 6 years of age, stated he wanted to grow up to be a German Shepherd. He was on to something and I didn’t get it! Brilliant child! LOL

  9. jane says:

    oh my, juju! this is SO right! maggie has her ‘jobs’ – mostly watching over the alzheimer’s mom, keeping the mail person away from the house, guarding the yard from rabbits and squirrels, playing with my cat, making sure her ‘fan club’ [all the kids in the neighborhood] are OK and happy, and going everywhere possible with me. hiking, walking, to the bank, to the tea shop [where she’s the ONLY dog allowed into the store!]. she, too, often leaves a couple of bites of her dinner in the bowl. enough is enough.

    unfortunately, right this moment, she has a cut in her paw pad. the other evening, when we were hiking, she HAD to chase two deer through a stream and across some rocks. she’ll be fine, but she needs to rest a little bit.

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