Ever wonder what your dog does all day while you’re not around? Is he sitting on his doggy butt, licking himself where his balls used to be? If so, is he getting pudgy? And if he were to outlive you, do you worry about who’s going to take care of him?
If you ask yourself these questions, congratulations – you obviously don’t have any real worries. And kudos a second time – as minor as they are, they’re still problems but the good news is, they’re fixable.
The solution to your first issue is Tagg, the pet tracker. For a mere $99 — less than your monthly Starbuck’s tab — you can get this GPS-tracking enabled clip-on for your dog’s collar. Tagg tracks the intensity and duration of your dog’s activity; it picks up everything from him going through your garbage can, to sleeping in front of the TV, to licking his ghost balls.
And if it turns out that your dog is fat because he’s doing exactly what you’d do if you didn’t have go to work — sitting on his ass watching Shark Week marathons on Discovery Channel — no worries. Tufts University has opened the nation’s first weight-loss center catering exclusively to animals.
Amazingly, our pets are even fatter than we are (if that’s even possible). Studies show that as many as 60 percent of them are obese, as compared to 35 percent of us who need to put down the stuffed-crust pizza and go for a walk.
You’re maybe thinking, “So my dog is fat – what’s the big deal? I had him neutered, so it’s not like he’s dating.”
Well, just like with people, extra pounds on dogs increase the risks of breathing problems, diabetes, and joint problems, reducing the animals’ quality of life and life expectancy. And the extra pounds are not likely to get him a spot on The Biggest Loser, so a fat pooch is not your ticket out of the rat race.
Much of the Tufts program involves teaching owners of obese pets (and obese pet owners, too) how to make sure their four-legged charges are getting the proper nutrition. It also helps owners figure out how to fit exercise into their busy day. In other words, it’s a win-win – the fat dog gets a walk and so does his gravitationally-challenged owner.
So, two problems solved: You know how to keep tabs on your lazy dog and where to take him when he can’t lose those stubborn final pounds. But what would happen if – heaven forbid – you were to snuff it before Snuffy does? Well, if you take the advice of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, you’ll plan for Fido’s future as though he were a real dependent.
Under the law, pets aren’t people (I know; crazy, right?) – they’re property. And that means your little buddy could easily end up in a shelter—or worse—if you die or are unable to care for him.
According to the AISYTTF legal department (which consists of my cousin Catfish, a huge Law and Order fan), without at least an informal arrangement, you can’t be sure what will happen to your pet. Catfish suggests the following.
- Get a commitment. You need to ask any prospective caregiver to become your pet’s guardian, rather than assume someone will step up and adopt it. Also, the adopter should be reliable, committed, and not recently arrived from North Korea.
- Put it in writing. A formal agreement for your pet should be signed by you and the future guardian, but lawyers discourage putting such instructions in a will, since those can take months or years to be settled. Plus, there’s always a chance your pet might have you whacked if he finds out he’s in your will.
- Consider coughing up some money. You might want to set up a trust fund for Spot, especially if he has medical needs or you want special services, like regular dog-walking or doggy day care. The downside to a trust is that it kills incentive, and your dog could spend the rest of his days smoking weed and playing hacky sack.
Not all states recognize pet trusts, so you will need a lawyer; this could cost as much as $2,000. However, my cousin will do it for $20 and a 12-pack of Keystone Light, and he’ll toss in an oil change.