Spike’s Story

In April & May 2009 I wrote these personal blogs: www.alunrees.com/blog/rip-freddie & www.alunrees.com/blog/welcome-spike

Here’s the rest of Spike’s story, written in support of his nomination as “Slimmer of the Year” I kid you not!

“He’s quite a big chap,” said Belinda, “and he’s been rather spoilt by his last owner; she wasn’t in the best of health and liked to indulge him, but I gather he has had regular exercise.”

We said we would be happy to get to know him. Having lost Freddie our yellow lab at the age of 15 and a half, after five great years we thought that the chance to have a two-year old dog would be a great change. It’s true we had concerns about the amount of exercise he would need, being so much younger than Freddie but, having failed to read between the lines of Belinda’s statements, we thought that would not be a problem.

When the new dog, Spike, arrived he weighed in at 54 kg (that’s 8st 7lb) his girth was 48 inches and, as someone pointed out rather cruelly, he resembled a Vietnamese Pot Bellied pig. It became apparent that he was used to sharing with his family, particularly food and cups of tea, which he would try to drink if we put one down within his range. He recognized the word “walk” and would head off as far as the car obviously anticipating a ride to the park where he could mosey around for a few minutes. Any move beyond the car was initially treated with extreme caution. Exercise was a challenge; carrying the best part of another dog around made any walks longer than a few hundred yards impossible. He could manage stairs well, although we feared for their strength when he would come down them almost tumbling ahead of himself.

So his new regime started, the correct amount of food twice a day and definitely no treats. Several short walks a day became regular longer ones and as time passed Spike’s enthusiasm and agility gradually improved.

On top of this came the fortnightly weigh-ins with Auntie Belinda. In the first few weeks there were quite dramatic losses but after a month or so these became smaller, yet steady and significant, where he would lose on average 1Kg a fortnight. As time passed he changed from being this bear of a dog, who we feared would cause us to be reported for cruelty by overfeeding, to a tall, very handsome black Labrador.

Landmarks along the way included his being able to fit into his bed, this having been impossible for the first couple of months and the repeated need to tighten his collar lest he slip the lead. The passing of the 50, 45, 40 and fairly recently 35Kg points were all causes for celebration, but never with cake.

During the past 12 months Spike has proved to be an intelligent and enthusiastic member of the family. He tolerates the long journeys to our home in Ireland without a comment only showing anxiety, like his predecessor, when it is obvious we are readying to depart somewhere. He has a delightful character, a great sense of humour and a strong will. He still never seems to tire of stealing socks, underwear and handkerchiefs if they are left within reach. Thankfully these days he just runs off with them towards his bed but always making sure that he has been spotted so that he can enjoy the thrill of the chase. When he first arrived he would steal any small items of clothing and, if not spotted, swallow them whole.

At last the day arrived when target weight was reached, it has been great to be able to reward him with small treats and although the weigh-ins continue he has now stabilised at 31Kg. It has been a pleasure to know that by being so disciplined with his diet we have improved not only the quality of his life but ultimately its length as well. In return he has been and continues to be a great companion.

Being a black dog he’s incredible difficult to photograph properly so here’s a view to show the leaner profile, less of a pig more of a racing snake.

Thanks are due to Hill’s for their sponsorship of his diet and to Belinda from The Labrador Rescue Trust & Honeybourne Vets for the constant support and encouragement.

Time for another?….

Cautious Optimism Is For Amateurs – Doug Emerson

Doug Emerson is a horseman and coach with a niche coaching owners of livery stables in the USA. This recent item from his newsletter struck a personal chord with me.

Cautious Optimism Is For Amateurs

As the chute opens, is the rodeo bull rider cautiously optimistic about the next eight seconds?

Were the signers of the Declaration of Independence cautiously optimistic about their futures as they dipped their pens in ink?

Was Neil Armstrong cautiously optimistic as Apollo 11 roared from the launch pad on course for the moon?

If you’re like most people, your optimism struggles daily to outwit pessimism.  Pessimism lurks under every bump in the road, around every corner you turn and within every news report you hear.

There is no purpose for cautious optimism on your path to success, for cautious optimism is just another way to say maybe.

And if you are a chess player, maybe is pessimism’s way of saying “check”.

Believe and succeed.

Doug Emerson Profitable Horseman



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