Does this harness make my butt look too … small?

August 31, 2016 • Posted in blindness, guide dogs, Seeing Eye dogs, Uncategorized by

I had just tied Whitney’s latest deposit into a pick-up bag and was leaning down to re-buckle her harness when a stranger approached. “Excuse me,” She said. Her question must have been pressing. She couldn’t wait for me to stand up before asking.

What do you think?

What do you think?

”I’m not sure you notice, you know, not being able to see him and all, but do you know your dog is too skinny?” My face broke out into a huge smile. I think I even chuckled.

Once I stood up, I looked towards the sidewalk stranger’s voice and thanked her for her concern. “You know, it’s funny,” I said, explaining that the night before graduates leave for home with our new Seeing Eye dogs, a veterinarian from the Seeing eye speaks at our “Going Home” presentation and warns us that once we get out and about with our guides at home, complete strangers will stop us to tell us our dogs are too thin. “And here you are!” I said.

During that Seeing Eye lecture, the veterinarian tells us our dogs are the perfect weight,” I told the sidewalk stranger. “The vet told us Americans feed their dogs too much food, everyone gets used to seeing overweight dogs, and they end up thinking that’s the way dogs are supposed to look.”

The sidewalk stranger was unmoved. “I know they breed them special, I know that,” she said. “but there’s something wrong with yours, he’s too skinny. I have three dogs, I know dogs. Bring him to a vet. Ask them, they’ll tell you.”

I considered telling her that at our visit to the vet a month ago the doctor had confirmed that Whitney is still the perfect weight. But then I thought better of it.During that same Going Home lecture at the Seeing Eye, another Seeing Eye staff member had told us that when we’re out and about with our Seeing Eye dogs it’s normal to encounter questions — and sometimes interference — from people who do not intend to cause us difficulty. “By being polite and courteous and developing a brief explanation, you will limit the interference — educating these people will prevent more problems in the future,” he advised. .“As distracting as public interference can be, you will generally make it worse if you lose your temper.”

And so, I didn’t lose my temper, even when the sidewalk stranger confessed she’d been following me for a while. “I was walking behind you and his back legs, you can’t see him, but he’s too skinny,” she said. “The way he walks, there is something really wrong with him. You need to take him to a vet.”

Time to go. I thanked the sidewalk stranger again for her concern, an then I told her I did have something she could help me with. “Without being able to see, you know, I can’t tell where a nearby garbage can might be.” I said. “Can you throw this out for me?” And with that, I handed her the bag of poop.

Beth Urech On August 31, 2016 at 9:14 am

Best column ever! As Mark said when I related it to him just now, “That woman was full of BS already.” On another paw, the winter I broke my collar bone, our Java didn’t get as many walks up and down icy Dearborn Street. It was especially hazardous in front of Printer’s Row Park; I’m sure you remember. Her weight creeped up from 39 to 48 pounds! The vet reprimanded us firmly. Java is now back to her svelte 39 pounds!

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 10:06 am

Good for your vet, good for you two for following the doctor’s orders, and good for your dog as well!

And with Whitney, it’s not all about good looks!One thing I wasn’t able to fit into this blog post was that when the Seeing Eye vet spoke to us, she also said that evidence-based research shows that overweight dogs die at a younger age than dogs who stay at their perfect weight. She impressed upon us that with us, that meant that allowing a dog’s weight to creep up could mean they’d have a shorter working life with us. We bond so strongly with our dogs that anyone would understand how we want them to work side-by-side with us as long as possible.


Pat Fraser On August 31, 2016 at 9:14 am


bethfinke On September 1, 2016 at 8:58 am

Sometimes a great notion…


Judy MacLeod On August 31, 2016 at 9:14 am

Wonderful post, Beth! A sense of humor is a precious thing – thank you for yours!

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 10:07 am

I will say, it does come in handy at times.


Nancy Yacullo On August 31, 2016 at 9:17 am

Thanks for your insights and your good humor. I enjoy reading your writings.

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 10:08 am

And than you, Nancy, for reading our blog.


Jen Ulen On August 31, 2016 at 9:26 am

If only we all had bags of poop in our hand when we really needed them! ha

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 10:12 am

Gee. Maybe I can make a fortune now starting a new business. I’ll sell bags of…Whit shit.


Marilee On September 1, 2016 at 9:06 am

Brilliant idea!

bethfinke On September 1, 2016 at 9:09 am

Thanks Linda, Judy and Marilee –as I admitted in a comment above, I usually don’t come up with these ideas until long after the situation is over. Guess I was thinking on my feet that day.


Nancy Sayre On August 31, 2016 at 9:32 am

Good one! “Don’t get mad, get even.” I hadn’t thought about it before, but it makes sense — if we feed ourselves too much, we probably overfeed our animals as well.

bethfinke On September 1, 2016 at 8:57 am

Yes — that’s another point the vet brought out in that lecture.


Janet Sterling On August 31, 2016 at 9:55 am

As Minke would say, “Oh, Beth!”?

Cheryl On August 31, 2016 at 11:44 am

……just after she had a good laugh?

Hava Hegenbarth On August 31, 2016 at 10:04 am

looks perfect weight to me.

Sheila Welch On August 31, 2016 at 10:44 am

Oh, Beth! I loved this post, and I agree with Jen! We all need bags of dog poop for distribution when needed to help others be truly helpful. I wish you could have seen the expression on the lady’s face when you handed her that little gift. 🙂

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 10:47 am

I wish I could have, too, but you know, it’s pretty easy to imagine…!


anny rusk On August 31, 2016 at 10:55 am

Bravo! I love the way you were able to let the stranger help you. She obviously wanted to be of service. 🙂 A great example of making lemons out of lemonade. One of my fav posts yet.

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Lemonade, anyone? Cheers!


Kim On August 31, 2016 at 11:26 am

Perfect response on your part. That’s just creepy that she’s “…been following you for a while.” Knowing that would freak me out!

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 2:01 pm

As twisted as it sounds, losing my sight resulted in a strong case of delusions of grandeur. I assume people are staring at — or following — me all the time. So I wasn’t surprised when the sidewalk stranger admitted she was doing so.


Hank On August 31, 2016 at 11:40 am

Love the way you ended this post. Smile.

Mary Jo Field On August 31, 2016 at 11:50 am

That’s funny!

Speaking of dogs, you are welcome to bring Whitney tomorrow as Bianca is persona non grata and will not be present.

All best, Mary Jo >

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Thanks, Mary Jo. Whitney will lead me to class tomorrow.


Cheryl On August 31, 2016 at 11:52 am

Ooh, you’re good Beth…..keeping your temper and a perfect response?. Love Jen’s idea of carrying around a spare bag of “Whit Shit” just in case of unwanted advice;)

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Yes. Whit Shit might be especially popular amongst working people who have to spend a majority of their days in business meetings. And, it might sell well to teenagers as well….!


sallie wolf On August 31, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Great post. Thanks, Beth.

Sue Doyle On August 31, 2016 at 12:55 pm

You go, Girl! That is hysterical!! Whitney looks just fine… and I love the “Whit Shit” comment above!

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 2:06 pm

All credit goes to my niece Jen, who gave me the Whit Shit idea.


Margie On August 31, 2016 at 1:56 pm

That was perfect, Beth. Bet she will think twice next time she wants to interfere! Clive will love this, too. Hee-Hee!!!

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Thanks for sharing with Clive — he has a great laugyh. As do you, Margie!


Carol Abrioux On August 31, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Loved this one,Beth. Whitney’s bum is perfect.

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Whitney’s bum. I hope you are referring to me….!


Karen Keninger On August 31, 2016 at 3:25 pm

I love it!


bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Karen, you were right there at the lecture with me! I’m sure you can relate to this piece about interference from strangers. Hope you and Seeing Eye dog Jimi are cruising right along…


Dmarta On August 31, 2016 at 3:48 pm

My favorite post of all time! Thanks for sharing. Diana

Sent from my iPhone


bethfinke On September 1, 2016 at 9:05 am

Wow! High praise coming from a Medill grad like you –thanks, Diana.


piwright04gmailcom On August 31, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Hilarious! The final line was absolutely priceless.

bethfinke On September 1, 2016 at 9:06 am

Gotta admit, the moment was priceless, too.


Sunny On August 31, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Lol. Love it. You’re so clever!

bethfinke On August 31, 2016 at 5:03 pm

Sometimes these kind of responses just come to you. For me, they usually come long afterwards. I was tickled when the poop bag idea came to me when it did, and now I’m tickled to read all these positive comments to my post about it. That you all –My delight must have come through in my writing.


Bryan McMurray On August 31, 2016 at 6:17 pm

This is so so cool, I don’t even know how to compliment you! Anyway, you already know it! I think, Beth, you should give whitney an extra bone for that one! Bryan


bethfinke On September 1, 2016 at 9:07 am

You know, I would, but I don’t want her to gain weight!


Linda On August 31, 2016 at 9:07 pm

Oh Beth, thanks for the belly laugh! I wasn’t expect that perfect ending!

Linda On August 31, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Oops ….*expecting

judy roth On August 31, 2016 at 10:00 pm

I love it!

sharon Kramer On September 1, 2016 at 7:57 am

Love the ending. I hope the bag was a little weak at the bottom.

bethfinke On September 1, 2016 at 8:07 am

Oh, my.


Linda Miller On September 1, 2016 at 9:43 am

So funny. Love it when life hands you the perfect ending.

bethfinke On September 1, 2016 at 11:21 am

Yes. Times like these, it’s much easier writing non-fiction than tackling fiction.


Benita Black On September 1, 2016 at 11:12 am

Loved this. Fabulous and perfect ending. How much credibility did The Poop Whisperer have when she couldn’t tell that Whit was a female? With all apologies to our feathered friends: what a birdbrain!

bethfinke On September 1, 2016 at 11:25 am

Ha! I was hoping one of my blog readers would,ahem, pick up on that.


Mel Theobald On September 1, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Loved that your revenge was served while still warm. The ending of this mini-drama was excellent. Makes me think those 2-minute plays from the Neo-Futurists are coming in handy on the street. Great performance!!!

bethfinke On September 1, 2016 at 1:08 pm

Ah, Mel. Warm revenge and neo-futurism. You’re the greatest


Michelle On September 2, 2016 at 5:28 am

Haha this is funny! It’s also a great message for other people to stop interfering with you and your seeing eye dog. I’ve had people telling me that they disapprove of what my vets tell me about my guide dog Troy, yet he’s healthier than said people’s dogs! Go figure, right? Lol! Well, you’re spot on. The other argument I’ve got for people who carry on like this, is to tell them that if they wish to make a complaint to the RSPCA, then that’s fine by me. I don’t hear from these people again funnily enough. I also let them know about Troy being healthy and how I’m not willing to change anything because otherwise his health status could change for the worst. As a last resort, you could suggest to people that you’re willing to take their advice if they go to veterinary school first. Haha this shuts most people up! And, if anyone says ‘I know dogs, you’re doing all your training/health stuff wrong’, just say, well you may know dogs but you don’t know guide/seeing eye dogs. Let’s see what people say to you then!

bethfinke On September 2, 2016 at 7:35 am

You know, Usually I just say a simple “Thanks” and move on. This particular woman wouldn’t have that, though. Guess I gave her a dose of her own medicine.


Ed Finke On September 2, 2016 at 11:28 am

Go Aunt Beth!

bethfinke On September 4, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Thanks, Ed. Great to hear from you!


Bruce Creager On September 3, 2016 at 11:22 am

Beth, I am a long time and avid reader; first time commentor. I loved this blog, I laughed so hard until I cried. Thank you , Bruce

bethfinke On September 4, 2016 at 10:31 pm

Bruce, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment here. The comments readers leave here really do make Mike and Me feel good, and it’s especially good to know I gave you a smile with my pick-up story.


Annelore On September 6, 2016 at 9:49 am

Beth, I love the ending! And I agree with you, Whitneys butt is perfect. Thanks for the laugh!

bethfinke On September 6, 2016 at 10:12 am

My pleasure.


Deborah Darsie On September 11, 2016 at 12:20 am

Your warm-hearted gift of a bag of Whit shit is priceless!
I do love my mental image of you placing it in her hand, oh-so gently.

Even the puppy raisers get those comments.

bethfinke On September 11, 2016 at 4:20 pm

I guess that in this experience, everyone is in the same boat as I am. We are left to only imagine what her response looked like…


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