In a professional capacity, you understand, it's not like I'm out for a walk and see a fat dog and run up to the owner and shout, 'Your dog is fat! Fatty fatty boom boom! It's a Blobrador, a German Shep-pud, a Staffordshire Bulbous Terrier!' After all, I'm not five years old and I don't want to get punched.
And most people know their pet is fat already, so it isn't like I'm telling them anything new. They often say, 'But he hardly eats anything!' And sometimes they describe the amount of pet food that they give and add, 'And he doesn't eat all of that.' But dig a little deeper and usually somebody is supplementing the pet food with biscuits, fruit, left overs, a five course meal, half a cow.
Quite often, the owner is only feeding pet food and nothing else. And they sometimes find it hard to get their heads around the idea that if the pet is only eating that amount, and there isn't anything wrong with the pet, then that is still too much food. Essentially too many calories going in, not enough calories being used up = fat pet.
And because I am fat, I usually tell the owners that it is entirely my fault that I am the size I am. Nobody else eats all this food. So my weight is my fault. But the owner controls the amount of food that their pet gets and that makes the pet's weight their fault.
Guilt trips, can't beat them.
I also tend to acknowledge that weight loss is difficult for pets just like it is for people. The emotional bond we have with our pets is reinforced by feeding. It really makes us feel like our pets love us when they gaze adoringly at the food we are giving them - I'm guessing we sometimes get included in their field of vision and so we mistakenly believe they love us and not the food. But we could get that emotional bond and feeling of love through doing other things with our pet that they enjoy. Talking to them, playing games with them, grooming them. It isn't always about food.
Look, if you're fat it often seems like it is all about food, but it isn't.
So there are a couple of old geezers who regularly bring their dogs in.
One of them told me a few weeks ago that he had had a heart attack last year. His dogs have never been fat but this guy is quite large. He is a little bit of a wide boy and sometimes a bit cheeky. His wife puts up with a lot. She is a very nice lady.
So he told me he had had a heart attack and so the dog had gained a bit of weight because he wasn't able to take it for as many walks. I did the whole spiel about controlling his diet and all that stuff.
And as they were leaving, he said to me, 'Course, they told me that I had to cut down on fatty foods. But there's a chinese takeaway right opposite us. So what can I do? I like a Chinese.'
His wife rolled her eyes in that, 'Oh you!' way that people do when they are dealing with incorrigible husbands.
And I said, 'You could not eat Chinese takeaways. I want to still be seeing you next year.'
He laughed and cleared off. I hope he does give up the takeaways, but even when your life is threatened it is bloody hard to give up something you love.
Yesterday, another old geezer came in with his wife and their fat little dog. I gave them the talk and then his wife took the dog out of the room, the old geezer stopped for a moment and took my forearm in a death grip.
'I gave up smoking two years ago,' he said, staring intently at me. ' I was thin as a racing snake when I smoked. Now look at me!'
And with his free hand he lifted up his belly and wobbled it at me.
'I've never smoked,' I told him, 'so I haven't even got that excuse.'
This is what I said. I have no idea what I meant by this. I was a bit scared because he was still clinging on tight to my arm.
'I started when I was 11 years old,' he said. 'Smoked for sixty years. Gave up because my doctor told me I had to.'
'That's really good,' I told him.
'And every day since I've felt bleeding awful.'
'A-ha ha ha!' I replied, finally shaking him off.
Now, a lot of people claim this 'giving up smoking equals putting on weight' thing like it's a reason to carry on smoking. I'm guessing that his weight gain is more due to his poor health rather than his giving up smoking. And I hope that this old geezer lives longer for following his doctor's advice.
And he promised me that he would get his little dog to lose weight. And that dog will live a happier and healthier life if he does it.