There’s a woman named Ann Burton who is a member of the gym that I’m also a member of. Ann is an elementary school teacher– I believe she teaches the 3rd grade. Every year, she asks me to come and speak to her class about comic books–how I got into the business of being a comic book artist, the characters I’ve worked on– what my daily routine is like…. that sort of thing. I’ve done that for the past several years… I can’t remember exactly how many, but I believe it’s been about 5. And at the end of each talk, I then proceed to do head sketches for every student in her class of each student’s choice of character. This past year, Ann’s class was substantially larger than in past years. I believe there were 28 kids this past time. And so, since it was also on one of the last days of the school year (it’s hard to believe that the 2005-2006 school year is already about to begin…..), I stayed past the class period and finished up what I hadn’t done while class was in session, working from a list of what the kids wanted. The sketches were then to be handed to them the next day, which was the last day of the school year. Finishing up took me about another hour and a half or so, and so what was to be a one hour presentation turned into closer to two and a half hours. But I didn’t mind… I think this was while I was still waiting on script for my first issue of FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN, and so I had the time to spare. It’s always very heartening to see the enthusiasm that kids have for comic books and their interest in the drawing of comics, even if not all the kids actually read comics. There were, though, a couple of kids who surprised even ME with their knowledge of comic books and comic book characters this time. So all in all, it was a fun experience. I think Ann felt bad, however, that it took so much time for me to complete all the sketches for the kids– because one day a couple of weeks ago, she left a greeting car with a gift card to PETSMART enclosed in it at the front desk of the gym for me. The card had a nice note in it thanking me for staying late to do the sketches for the kids, and said that knowing I had a cat, she thought I’d like to use the gift card to buy something for Charlie. So I dropped by PETSMART this past Wednesday while I was out running errands to buy Charlie some cat food with the card.

All that leads up the subject of this post: While I was in line with 3 bags of food for Charlie, I looked past the registers to the pet grooming center. It’s a rather large enclosed room, with huge plate glass windows that allow everyone in the store to see what’s going on. It’s always pretty busy– it has, I think, four tables, and they’re almost always all occupied with pampered canine loved ones every time I’m in the store. It’s fun to watch the reactions of the various dogs to getting groomed and washed. You can always tell the veterans who are used to (and very much enjoy) the grooming sessions from the newbies who aren’t used to it and get a little freaked out by having someone washing them and trimming their fur. This particular time, as I was standing in the checkout lane– I saw what looked like a German Shepherd mix (what else it had in its gene pool I couldn’t tell) … and he/she was, I think, the most over weight do I’ve ever seen in my entire life. This dog was so round that I don’t think I could have gotten both my arms around it and been able to touch my hands together, and I’ve got very, very long arms. He/she was up on the table, leashed to the holding rod as all the dogs are… and was sitting on his/her haunches. Every time the groomer would prompt the dog to stand up so she could try to trim the fur on the backs of its haunches, she’d get about 3 or 4 clips done, and then it would sit right back down. It was also panting heavily, and it was very chilly in the store– they had the AC up full blast, so it couldn’t have been because it was hot. I’m sure it kept sitting down because its weight puts a constant stress on its legs and joints. And I’m sure it was panting because its weight is causing a huge strain on its heart, and thus its lungs. I knew it was obviously a well-loved dog, because it was being treated to a grooming session, and they don’t come cheap. But I’m sure that same love his (or her) owners feel for the dog have lead them to overfeed it to an enormous degree. And if that’s the case, that love is really cruelty, because that overweight condition is going to vastly shorten this dog’s life. I’m hoping I’m wrong– and there’s a chance that it’s some sort of medical condition that has caused this dog to gain too much weight. But the alternative– owners who overfeed their pets, and feed them fatty table scraps to boot– is something that I’ve seen way too often. There’s a lot of pet owners who love their companions into an early grave that way.

This is entry 137.


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