A few years ago I encountered a rancher and his beautiful herding dog. It was obvious this dog and man were one – riding the range, the dog sometimes sitting on the rancher’s saddle on a long haul. Man’s best friend, indeed. I was so taken by this dog’s beauty and effortless ability to follow his simple hand commands, that I asked the rancher if I could I give his dog a treat. He looked at me funny, politely declined, and then sauntered away. At the time I thought; “what a hard ass, what harm could one small treat possibly do?” I didn’t realize how weird it must have seemed to the rancher that I, a dog less person, was carrying dog treats in my pocket.
Now I have my own dog, who suffers from food allergies and also battles arthritis. When Lemon gains even an extra pound or two she will limp and cry in pain. And now it’s me who is living in a constant karmic payback scenario, politely declining offers from generous treat givers. Have you noticed it has become a common practice for businesses to offer dog treats now? Gas station attendants, waiters, store clerks and even hotel concierge’s all want to give my dog a treat. At first I thought this was a thoughtful gesture, but now I see it for what it really is – a cheap ploy to extract affection from my unsuspecting furry travel companion.
It’s understandable. My dog Lemon is the cutest yellow Lab alive. She is beautiful, affectionate and smart. I know this because my husband and I are stopped by total strangers and told this all the time. Unabashed in our love for our dog, we often end our day looking at her lovingly, marveling at her magnificence and telling her how utterly adorable she is, as she winks back in agreement.
Lemon also happens to be one of the luckiest dog in the world. She goes to work with us, attends interesting meetings, flies on our airplane, swims and fly fishes in her own river and pond. She hikes, and loves Frisbee and soccer. The problem; many people that meet Lemon want to feed her treats. “Oh, just one? It can’t possibly hurt”, they mumble while their accusing pathetic eyes are saying; “what a sad control freak you are, let me give your dog a treat!!”
This adds up to a lot of treats when you count all our employees, friends, family, and random people she meets in a typical week (Lemon has a very busy schedule).
Due to her bad food allergies (this is code for she gets diarrhea or constipated depending on the treat) we do not feed Lemon anything but prescription dog food (lamb and rice, no chicken or cornmeal filler) and fresh veggies from our garden (she loves apples and carrots). Strangely, we are constantly battling her weight gain, and twice have rushed her to the emergency room with “Pancreatitis” – with one nearly deadly episode where she hemorrhaged from both orifices. Pancreatitis in dogs is a toxic food related illness, which is generally caused by giving dogs people food.
Last year, you may remember, over 600 dogs and cats died due to contaminated pet treats made in China. A quick Google search revealed that in that same year there were over thirty brands of dog food/treats recalled for “possible health risk” issues, many of which include salmonella contamination and possible kidney failure.
So that treat you are so lovingly offering my dog, could actually be deadly.
Don’t feed other people’s dogs. It’s akin to giving candy to a baby. It’s seems harmless, but is a really creepy thing to do.