I take pride in the fact that my dog is in such good shape. I take dog ownership seriously. I play with him and walk or run with him 2-5 miles almost every day. We have had a lot of fun rediscovering Massachusetts. The many benefits include the plants, wildlife, the change of seasons and the landscaping and decorations we see as we walk in the parks or through neighborhoods as well as getting fresh air and spending quality time together.

In November I had surgery and had to give up our daily excursions for a while. And guess what happened?  My dog gained weight. Yes, he was getting a little thick around the middle. I probably was too, but it wasn’t as noticeable on me. You see, Buddy is a 13-inch beagle and normally weighs 22-23 pounds, so just a little extra weight shows up on him. Fortunately now I am better, and we are back to our daily walks — looking and feeling as fit as ever.

This made me think back to my cat Frisky. Frisky was seven ounces when I rescued him from under a pine tree, all wet from the rain. Two years later, he weighed 25 pounds. I have never had an overweight cat. But observation in pet behavior tells you a lot. Unlike my other cats, Frisky just sat around all day, except for frequent trips to the food dish. He would even eat the other cats' food after finishing his own. I tried everything, but he remained overweight. He went on to develop diabetes and required daily insulin shots.

Obesity is not just a problem in people; pets are packing on the pounds too! A recent report from the National Academy of Science shows that one in four pets is overweight or obese. If you have an overweight pet check, out the “Top 10 nutritional tips for overweight pets

This story wasn’t really meant to be about pets, rather to learn a lot about our own issues with weight management by observing animals. In fact, many of the tips on the ASPCA Web site for pets can be applied to humans. On another site, I found out that most commercial pet food gets 45-65% of its calories from carbohydrate. We know that adequate protein is very important for the health of your dog. In humans, research shows that a high-protein, low-fat, moderate-carbohydrate diet, with the carbs coming from whole grains and other plant sources, is the most effective formula for weight loss. And as suggested at ASPCA for your pets, we also need to exercise and change our unhealthy behavior patterns.