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My Dog Used to Rat Me Out

Hiding anorexia is hard when your dog keeps telling on you

Bonnie, me, Marney Photo Credit Jill Fiebiger Photography


Several years ago our vet used to joke that Marney our German Shepherd was the only anorexic dog in her practice. In reality, I was dealing with anorexia from middle school through college. Marney was just helping to keep an eye on me.

I got Marney as a puppy, right around the time I was starting to eat less. No one, at that point knew my eating habits were starting to change and I wasn’t even consciously aware of what I was doing.

German Shepherds are smart and can analyze situations in ways many other breeds can’t. Which is why they make good seeing eye dogs, because they have to analyze how to get a person from point A to point B. Or in my case, when I was in high school Marney figured out when I wasn’t eating and she would also stop eating.

It took my parents and our veterinarian awhile to figure out what was “wrong” with Marney for her unexplained weight loss. Once they made the connection that Marney’s weight loss corresponded to mine, my parents  were willing to let Marney show them by her weight loss or gain how I was doing. They also never told me, until years later.

Marney and I Photo credit Jill Fiebiger Photography

In high school, I never noticed if my parents seemed to know when I wasn’t eating, and in truth my last two years of high school, I had a pretty good handle on my weight. At my high school graduation party, our vet told my parents she actually kept records on when Marney lost weight and how I appeared. And she was able to track the correlation.

College, was a different story and I slipped back into not eating. It was something I did when I was stressed. I went to college in a different state, but close enough to return home on the weekends.  My Dad used to call me up when I was in the dorm and ask me if I was eating. It used to drive me crazy, he ALWAYS happened to call when I indeed had not. And I was and still am a horrible liar, so I would fess to not eating.

I never understood why he was always so dang accurate, ALL the time. It wasn’t even like I was in the same house, let alone the same state!

Marney however, kept my parents informed when I wasn’t eating, even when I was miles away at college.

Now, I can look back and be appreciative of her ability to recognize what was happening, and in her own way, calling it out. But when I first found out she was ratting me out, I couldn’t believe it!  

She and I had a very special bond, and I am extremely grateful to have had her in my life, especially during that time. It is not every day you get ratted out by a dog.

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