So-Called Obese Pets Held To Unrealistic Body Standards

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Vol 39 Issue 49

Bush Won't Put Down New Football

WASHINGTON, DC—According to White House sources, President Bush has not allowed his new Wilson official NFL leather game football to leave his sight since he received it as a gift last week. "The president has that ball with him everywhere he goes," Vice-President Dick Cheney said Monday. "The way he pump-fakes it in the Oval Office is really distracting." Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has threatened to take the ball away and lock it in his desk if he sees it at the table during another goddamned cabinet meeting.

Author Accepts Award On Ghostwriters' Behalf

CONCORD, NH—Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig accepted the Worthington Literary Award on behalf of his four ghostwriters Tuesday for his book No Victory. "It is with humble gratitude that I accept this great honor," Haig said, graciously speaking for the team of writers who wrote the 435-page account of his unsuccessful bid for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination. "I appreciate that you have taken the time to consider what I had to say on the...subject matter of this book." Haig has not touched his Apple IIe since 1994 and spends most of his time hot-air ballooning in Naples.

Turkey Sandwich Given Locally Relevant Name

FAIRMOUNT, IN—For the 87,836th time, a turkey sandwich was given a locally relevant name, Mary Anne's Café owner Mary Anne Gunday reported Monday. "'The Hoosier Special' isn't just a turkey with lettuce, tomato, and mayo on your choice of bread," Gunday said. "It's a tribute to the state of Indiana and its inhabitants." Gunday recommended eating the sandwich with a bowl of steaming Birthplace Of James Dean Tomato Noodle Soup.

Vacationing Couple To Try Something They Don't Like

CANCUN, MEXICO—During their two-week winter holiday, Howard and Rosemary Gortenski of Arlington Heights, IL, have signed up for scuba lessons, even though both suspect that they will dislike the activity, the couple reported Tuesday. "Howard doesn't like to get his head wet, and I just don't see the point of getting all dressed up just to go under water for an hour," Gortenski said. "But vacations are for breaking out of the routine to experience what life has to offer, so I guess we have to try something new. It's this week or never." Gortenski said she'll make sure to secure some photos as proof of the couple's spontaneity.

Drinking Responsibly During The Holidays

The holiday season is a time to enjoy family dinners, office parties, and get-togethers with friends. Festive drinks and tasty punches often contribute to the holiday revelry, so here are some tips to help you celebrate sensibly:
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So-Called Obese Pets Held To Unrealistic Body Standards

CHICAGO—To the casual eye, Tippy might appear to be a regular Labrador. He loves sunbathing at the park, watching squirrels, and getting loads of attention from passersby.

Tippy and Katherine Mathers enjoy a day at the park.

But Tippy is not a normal dog. By veterinarians' standards, he is 65 pounds overweight.

A closer examination of Tippy's body reveals a rounded abdomen, thick limbs, and a fleshy neck and back. And, unlike dogs seen on television and in magazines, Tippy does not have a discernible waistline or ribcage.

"I don't care if people say he's chubby," said Tippy's owner Katherine Mathers, gently scratching the dog's protruding belly. "So what if he doesn't look like the dog in the Iams commercial? What's more important: having a perfect body or being happy? I love him whether he's 25, 50, or even 150 pounds overweight. In fact, I think he's the cutest dog in the world."

"Yes, you are!" said Mathers, waving the remaining half of her cookie in front of Tippy's nose.

Mathers is not alone in defending her pet. Amid a barrage of commercials for new diet dog and cat foods, many owners say that their pets are being held to impossibly high animal-body standards perpetrated by the media.

"I don't care what anyone says, my Sassy looks good," said Janice Guswhite, owner of a Persian longhair that cannot climb the stairs to her home's second floor without becoming short of breath. "Who's to say how big a cat is supposed to be, anyway?"

The American Veterinary Medical Association is trying. The organization recently announced that nearly one-fourth of all U.S. cats and dogs are overweight. While many owners say they are comfortable with their pets' extra weight, the AVMA says ignoring pet obesity could have dire health consequences.

"Many pet owners might think it's cute when Sparky lies next to his food bowl all day because he doesn't have the energy to walk away from it," said Dr. Ken Janokovski, spokesman for the AVMA. "But overweight animals are susceptible to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, pancreatitis, and a host of other illnesses."

"By simply lowering the number of times you fill the food bowl, and providing enough space to exercise, you can dramatically increase your pet's quality of life," Janokovski said. "Pets are part of your family. You should treat them accordingly."

In spite of the possible health risks, many owners of so-called obese pets insist that a few extra pounds can't hurt their dogs, cats, or guinea pigs.

"Animals know how and when to eat by instinct," said Travis Linsom, owner of a clinically overweight hamster. "Oscar only eats what he needs, then keeps the rest in his pouch while he sleeps in the corner all day. That's just how hamsters are. I'm not going to force Oscar to get on the wheel just because some vet is freaking out about hypoglycemia."

Pet body-image activist Miriam Grimer said owners shouldn't let doctors dictate their pets' weight.

"It's insulting that 'experts' are telling our pets how to live," Grimer said. "Our pets are perfectly fine with the way they look. No animal should be forced to live up to the unobtainable standard of beauty on the cover of a magazine like Cat Fancy."

Preferring terms like "plump," "stout," and "curvy," Eric Willis said he's proud that his 110-pound golden retriever has "a little something on the hindquarters."

"Jasmine might not be able to run as fast as other dogs, but when I take her to the park, you can bet she gets noticed by the male dogs," Willis said. "Not like Clementine, that skinny little English pointer down the block. Her owner must not care about her at all. "

Pet owners like Willis say they have no intention of changing their feeding habits.

"No one's going to tell me that Tippy isn't beautiful the way he is," Mathers said. "If he wants to lose weight, that's fine. But he doesn't have to do it for me, or the vet, or even my husband, who doesn't want Tippy allowed in the living room because of his intestinal troubles. I think Tippy's perfect, even if he can't fit through his doggy door anymore."

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