Friday, 13 March 2009

are we supersizing our dogs?

Penny probably hasn't heard of the film by Morgan Spurlock called 'Supersize Me.' And she doesn't need to watch it, because she has no choice except to trust us to feed her in a way that won't make her obese.

When we read the labels on commercial dog foods, we usually cut the recommended amount, because we think companies encourage us to overfeed her. But it's temptation to look at the food in her bowl and think, 'That doesn't look enough.'

I suspect this happens because we have become accustomed to larger portions in fast food outlets, restaurants and cafes, and, unfortunately, at home. We're being sublty indoctrinated into 'supersizing' in our own home!

I've been thinking about 'supersizing' because I read an excerpt from The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. (pp. 105-106). He explains how a guy called Wallerstein wanted to convince Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's, that people would buy big portions of food even though they wouldn't buy two of anything.
As the story is told in John Love's official history of McDonald's, Wallerstein tried ...two-for-one deals, matinee specials--but found he simply could not induce customers to buy more than one soda and one bag of popcorn. He thought he knew why: Going for seconds makes people feel piggish.
Wallerstein...began staking out McDonald's outlets in and around Chicago, observing how people ate. He saw customers noisily draining their sodas, and digging infinitesimal bits of salt and burnt spud out of their little bags of French fries. After Wallerstein presented his findings, Kroc relented and approved supersized portions, and the dramatic spike in sales confirmed the marketer's hunch. Deep cultural taboos against gluttony--one of the seven deadly sins, after all--had been holding us back. Wallerstein's dubious achievement was to devise the dietary equivalent of a papal dispensation: Supersize it! He had discovered the secret to expanding the (supposedly) fixed human stomach.
I received this little snippet of information about McDonald's in my daily email from They say this about themselves:
Delanceyplace is very simply a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context. There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came
We try to resist the impulse to put more in Penny's bowl, because we don't want her to become overweight. I've read many recommendations about how to tell if a dog is overweight, and this one from Canada seems simple:
The easiest way to tell whether or not your dog is obese is to examine his body. Try the following:

Have him stand up, then stand above him. Does his body slope inward at the waist?

Run your hands over his sides from front to back legs. Can you feel his ribs fairly easily?

Feel the base of his tail. Are the bones easily detectable?

Look at him from the side. Does his tummy slope upward as it gets closer to his tail
With a long-bodied and long-furred dog like Penny it's hard to see any of this, but we try to check. I th-i-n-k there's a waist there somewhere.

But I can't feel anything except fat in her tail. Here's hoping I was doing it the wrong way!


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Amber-Mae said...

I think you're just nice Penny! You wouldn't want to be too skinny do ya or too round like me right now eh? Hehehe!

Butt sniffs,
Solid Gold Dancer

parlance said...

Amber-Mae, you are 'supersizing' from the inside out, but it's for an exciting and wonderful reason.