What My Dog Henry Taught Me About Weight Loss


Finding the right dog can be like finding the right diet.

Last July, my family and I drove a couple of hours to Kokomo, Indiana to an animal shelter. We were looking for a dog to adopt. Now, let me give you some background information. We were not exactly new pet owners. Henry, who we adopted that day, was to be our fifth dog.

Through the past 17 years, we had been family to four other dogs. For various reasons, these dogs 'didn't work out.' For years, I thought there was something wrong with us.

Why couldn't we be like so many other American families and accomplish something as simple as having a dog be a part of our family? I felt actual shame.

First, there was the giant Shepherd, Kojack. Kojack came from a rural area, where he was used to chasing small animals. Unfortunately, now in the city of Chicago, Kojack still chased small animals. I remember being pregnant and running desperately through the streets chasing after Kojack, who was chasing anything that moved. This happened too many times. It was dangerous for him to run through the traffic-filled streets and equally dangerous for me to run after him. Kojack was moved to another family, in the country.

Next came Bella. Bella was another large Shepherd. By the time we got Bella, we had two small children and a house in the suburbs. Bella was a bit high strung. One day, while the girls were watching television, she came up behind my youngest daughter and bit her on the shoulder. I later learned that she was letting her know who the alpha dog was, but oops, this just wouldn’t work. I could no longer leave the dog and the girls alone, even for a minute. Bella had to go. We found her another home.

Then a little Shelty. This was a few years later, we now lived in our current house in suburban Fort Wayne, Indiana. Rusty was cute, but again, nipped and seriously growled at my youngest, Sophia. Since my commitment to Sophia was for life, unfortunately Rusty was toast. We gave him back to the shelter. To say they weren’t happy with us was a major understatement. Again, I felt like a failure.

No more dogs, I vowed. I guess we're just not cut out to be dog owners. But somehow, I never gave up the dream totally. In the back of my mind, I always wondered what was different about those other successful dog owners. And how about the ones who had several pets? What did they know that I didn't?

A couple of years passed, and my kids were begging for a dog again. Wanting to please them and secretly please myself too, I looked in the paper and found a family with yellow Lab puppies for sale. 'Let’s just look,' I said. But in my heart, I was hoping something had changed. That maybe this time it would work.

Sunny was a gorgeous puppy. Who did all the normal, trying puppy things that drive you crazy. OK, I can deal with this (I said this to myself on a daily basis). Sunny dug up our garden, ate rocks, and needed several surgeries for eating rocks, underwear, and anything lying on the floor. She threw up daily.

I couldn't handle it. By now I was beaten down. I truly believed there was something wrong with me. I was the only person in this country who couldn't have a dog and still have a normal life. We gave Sunny to our vet who gave her a home with a friend of his, where else? In the country.

So, when we drove to Kokomo last July, it was with a lot of trepidation. I was a four time failure. I couldn't do what most 'normal' people do without even thinking.

And then we found Henry. Henry isn't a purebred. He's a funny little dachshund-terrier mix. He barks at strangers. He jumps about three feet high to get food. But he is a perfect fit for our family. Thank goodness I didn't let my past 'failures' prevent me from meeting Henry. He has brought a lot of joy to my life.

So, finally, how can this little funny-looking furry boy possibly relate to weight loss?

So, if you have tried to lose weight in the past, and have not had the success you wish for, if you have lost weight only to regain it, don't give up hope! It's very possible that you just tried the wrong methods.

It's not you, it's the diets. And it's important to know, that for you, for your health, and for your spirit, you should never give up. You just need to find what works.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.