Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Basic Human and Canine Needs .... (Part 2): Health

My distant ancestors foraged for their food in the wild and did a large amount of scavenging. I do both, not out of necessity. Scatology and coprophagia are grand words related to poop, the consumption of which is a favourite pastime of most Labrador Retrievers. Missus and Mister think it's not good for my health, but if they can eat Belgian chocolates for pleasure, then I can indulge in a decent bit of confectionery of my own. It is a fact that chocolate (especially with a high cocoa content) can cause major organ failure in a dog, just as eating the leavings of foxes and cats could easily cause major organ failure in Missus and Mister. 

Health is all about balance. As with humans, if dogs eat too much of the wrong food, it gives them digestive problems, weight issues, dull coats, bad breath, plaque on their teeth, weak hearts, creaky joints, and behavioural problems. A healthy diet saves on the veterinary bills, but need not exclude a few interesting morsels.   

Whilst on the subject of veterinary bills, I can think of one that Missus should have refused to pay. I'm referring to a consultation with locum vet,Tim Meanie, in which he gave me my 12-week vaccinations, tortured me by firing a microchip into my back, and then told Missus that, in order to keep me in prime health, she must feed me only on complete food (preferably the expensive prescription variety he sold) and nothing else. I'd like to see him just living on biscuits for his entire life. Fancy charging anyone money for that sort of treatment and bad advice. 

My regular vet, Clarissa, is far more understanding. She even has a tin with tasty snacks in her cupboard, to dispense to her best-behaved patients. Apart from this, I am forever in her debt, as she saved my life when I was a year old, after a dog resembling a large shaggy wolf bit me, and Clarissa had to drain the pus out of an abscess as large as a tennis ball from my tummy. 

Mister once calculated how much I cost a year to feed and keep in good health. I can't remember the exact figure he arrived at, but it wasn't nearly as much as he cost. There's my holistic complete food, which is free of GMOs, additives, artificial flavourings, wheat, and soya, and is half the price of the food recommended by Tim Meanie. Other expenses related to my health include vaccinations, worming tablets, flea treatments, occasional ear treatment, and twice-yearly nail clipping. 

Exercise is also an extremely important part of my health. This involves a walk in the park, where I chase balls and socialise with my friends, working-out in the woods chasing squirrels and foraging, runs up on the Downs, which sometimes includes a swim and splash in the dew pond, mad dashes around the garden and break-dancing off the fences in pursuit of foxes and cats, indoor games with balls, soft toys, and the occasional tug-of-war with Mister or with my adopted brother, 'Pack-bro' when he's home from University. Missus doesn't do tug-of-war; her shoulders and her thumb joints aren't up to such a vigorous challenge, as she spends too much time on her PC for her musculoskeletal system to be in optimum condition. 

Missus isn't so weak that she can't find the strength to give me a vigorous groom once or twice a week. Mister reckons she enjoys carrying out the groom as much as I enjoy receiving it. I sometimes find it so relaxing, it sends me to sleep, and, when I wake up, I find I'm as as shiny as a polished conker. I'll leave describing the mechanics of my groom for my next post, which will be dedicated wholly to the subject of rest and sleep.

But one last thing before I sign out. Returning to the subject of Tim Meanie: he would make a wonderful character in a Science Fiction novel - the man in a white coat in a secret laboratory who plunges needles into aliens, microchips them, feeds them on complete dry food, and then classifies them as a hostile species when they try to defend themselves... 

I didn't tell you that bit, did I?  When he microchipped me, I let out a blood-curdling shriek and nibbled him with my little puppy teeth. And you know what he said? You should watch that dog, it's a biter. Me, a biter? I'm the softest, soppiest, most loving Labrador Retriever that ever walked the face of this earth. So you'd aliens better watch the likes of Tim Meanie, as he's a very bad judge of character.    

Come on, Missus, get writing ...You never know, Tim Meanie might be the inspiration behind a best seller. 



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