Middle Age Proves to Be the Pits for Peaches

Peaches is approaching early middle age. I hate to admit this and, obviously, Peaches is not greatly pleased. We selected her from seven of her litter mates who were rolling around on the floor, looking more like peach-colored ducklings than anything that might be a dog some day.

Obviously, she was named because of her color and because she had a slightly cocotte sound. Even when Peaches was a puppy, she had a twinkle in her eye that intimated that champagne and diamonds would be more to her fancy than beef stew and safety pins.

This sobering development in her powder-puff existence came to my attention the other day when she jumped off the bed and let out a sharp yelp of pain. That evening, she was curled up at Patsy's feet and yelped again when she tried to get up.

The next day, I took her to her veterinarian, Dr. Woody Walker, where she saw Dr. Susan Dietrich, an able and interested young woman who told me that Peaches was overweight and had arthritis in her spine. She said Peaches shouldn't be jumping because it would further aggravate the inflamed joints. And she gave me some anti-inflammatory medicine for this party-loving blonde who has been the toast of the regiment.

I did not tell the doctor that Peaches' idea of real fun is to run around the living room as fast as she can go, leaping yawning distances from one piece of furniture to another. Peaches will do this mad tarantella for three or four minutes at a time, only stopping when she feels she has earned a bow and it is time for a stagehand to walk out with the satin-tied roses.

I called the vet the next day to ask if the sealed six-ounce packet of food we had been giving her was a suitable amount. Dr. Walker said the food I mentioned was the equivalent of a hot fudge sundae and that Peaches should be eating something called Fit and Trim.

The next day, Patsy went to the store and returned with the car full of groceries, including a sackful of Fit and Trim which weighed nine pounds, only five pounds less than Peaches.

We have enough of this stuff to feed a Clydesdale. Why do you suppose the dog food manufacturers refuse to believe that a small dog might have a weight problem? We have enough of this stuff to last until Peaches is a wraith--or it is eaten by those awful little moth-like bugs.

I had a treat the other day. A friend named Jo Kirkpatrick, who has Springer spaniels and who used to show them, took me to a dog show in Brookside Park.

I will not try to explain dog shows to you because their conduct is far too arcane for someone who just points and says, "That's a handsome dog."

The dogs were gorgeous and several I had not seen before. One was a Pharaoh hound who looked as if he had stepped off a wall painting in an Egyptian tomb. He has an ancient lineage and is delicate and refined, as if he had been fashioned by the court jeweler.

I saw only one mishap. The handlers run around the ring leading the dog they are showing--or maybe the dog is showing the handler. Anyway, one dignified handler fell down but immediately scrambled up and kept on running. I thought it would have been nice to give him an award for Best Recovery From an Embarrassing Moment, and the dog, who did not even acknowledge the fall, an award for Sportsmanlike Understanding.

I can't tell you any more because it is time for Peaches to have some Fit and Trim. Do you suppose if I fixed myself a small bowl, Peaches and I could stride down Linda Vista together lean, lithe and lovely?

Probably not. We both look more like the clumber spaniel I met at the dog show: a cream, short-legged, blocky fellow who is called an older gentleman's hunting dog. He looked as if he should be having a tot of Madeira in front of a fireplace at a hunting lodge and leave that foolish running up and down to the staff.

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