Please Don't Feed the Daisy

Living, Loving, and Losing Weight with the World's Hungriest Dog


By Beverly West

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When Jason moves in with Bev, it’s supposed to be temporary. But then Daisy the Chihuahua comes to stay. Just two-and-a-half pounds when they adopt her, Daisy is a charmer. And soon, an eater. Hot on her heels comes Elvis the pug, and then, of course, their puppies! Instead of losing her baby weight, after giving birth to four puppies, Daisy gets even chubbier and soon outgrows even her fattest fat sweaters. Bev and Jason decide it’s time for everyone, including the two of them, to pull together, lead a healthier life-style — and in the process become a family (albeit an unconventional one).

Please Don’t Feed the Daisy is the wickedly funny, remarkably useful story of their journey toward becoming that family, and a fit one to boot. Packed with yummy, fun, diet- and earth-friendly recipes for both dogs and people, as well as training tips and the Happily Ever After Maintenance Plan, this is a heartwarming and healthy tale for dog- (and food-) lovers everywhere.


Please Don’t Feed the Daisy

Living, Loving and Losing Weight with the World’s Hungriest Dug

Beverly West and Jason Bergund

To our fat Daisy and Daisys
everywhere, who remind us
every day that love comes in
all shapes, colors, and sizes.


Note to Reader: Please note this book contains a personal account of the authors’ relationship with their pets and is not intended to replace the advice of a veterinarian. All matters regarding the health of your pets, including any pregnancies or diets, require professional supervision. Consult your veterinarian before adopting the suggestions in this book. None of the material in this book should be used as a substitute for veterinarian care and treatment. While the authors specify certain products that they used for their pets with good results, the authors’ inclusion of the products in no way represents an endorsement by the Publisher, nor does the exclusion of a product or trade name represent a negative judgment of any kind.

The Authors and Publisher disclaim any liability directly or indirectly from the use of the material in this book by any person, or by any person on behalf of their pet.


Love, Food, and Dogs


Falling in love, a great meal, and puppies are life’s showstoppers. They’re God forcing us to pay attention. In their presence, you aren’t thinking about anything except How wonderful! How delicious! How cute! For that instant, there’s no past, no future, no causes or consequences, no puddle in the hallway or number on the scale, no bottom line. There’s only the uncomplicated enjoyment of the here and now. You string a few months of moments like this together, and you’ll be surprised where you wind up.

Which I guess is how I find myself now, at the age of forty-seven, living with four dogs, one cat, two turtles, and fifteen fish in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, married to a man seventeen years younger than me. And I’ve never been happier.

Of course, this isn’t at all the life I expected. I’m not exactly sure what I had in mind for myself, but I’m pretty sure that whatever it was involved fewer dogs. Probably a bigger apartment, too, and I’m certain a smaller waistline. But I love how life is mysterious like that. It never brings what you expect, and yet manages to deliver exactly what you need, whether or not you know it at the time.

When Jason and the dogs came along, mostly what it felt like was a whole lot of chaos coupled with an alarming lack of shelf space. But as our puppies grew into dogs, and eventually had puppies themselves, Jason and I, quite unbeknownst to ourselves, were building a home and a family of our own. What I’ve come to realize is that what initially felt like the world falling apart was actually just the growing pains of a new and better one being born.

This is the story of our family’s adventure with love, food, and dogs, all of which have taught us some very important lifelong lessons, like how to go with the flow, how to trust the unknown, and how to have faith in the recipes of life. We’ve learned that mistakes create some fabulous taste treats, that we can draw healthy boundaries and maintain them, and that we can make and sustain the changes that we want to make in ourselves, our bodies, and our lives. And most importantly, we’ve learned to spend as much time as possible appreciating the small moments and the smaller portions of life, and counting our blessings along with our calories, four dogs, one cat, two turtles, and fifteen fish at a time.


How Much Is That Daisy in the Window?


One day, Jason and I went out for a cheese-burger, and came home with a puppy.

It happened just like that. Like most life-changing events do. And when I really stop and think about it now, it was probably one of the stupidest ideas we’d ever had. Although it’s a good thing we didn’t realize it then, because it also turned out to be one of our finest hours.

And of course, you have to forgive yourself during times like these. In the aftermath of a sudden and fundamental shift in business as usual, like 9/11 was in New York City, most of us felt apart and aside from everyday life for a while. It was as if everything stopped, life held its breath, and everybody just waited to see what the lay of the land would be like once the dust settled. Until then, the regular rules and regulations of life just didn’t apply. This included the rules and regulations about regular exercise, smoking, trans fats, anti-anxiety meds, alternate-side-of-the-street parking, drinking, romance, and puppies, to name just a few.

I suspect that Jason had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen that day, but I, as usual, was only thinking about the next fry fix. In the toxic dust and confusion that plumed perpetually from downtown Manhattan in those weeks and months following 9/11, carb-depleting had lost all of its appeal, and I didn’t want to eat anything unless it was battered and fried.

“I think there’s a diner on the next block that has fabulous onion rings,” said Jason, and grinned at me that way he does. Jason always did know just how to get to me. And being a native son of Ohio, Jason knew from onion rings. There was no way I was going to ignore a recommendation of his in that department. He was a true connoisseur. And then he said coyly, “I think there’s a pet store right next door. And I think it’s adoption day. Can we go look at the puppies, pleeeaaasse?”

I rolled my eyes, but of course I was going to say yes. I could never say no to Jason, not since the day I’d met him three years before. He was a nineteen-year-old dancer/barista back then, but I’m pretty sure he’d lied and told me he was twenty. Not that this was much of a distinction, since he still wasn’t old enough to get into a bar…although this never seemed to stop him. Jason was and is unusually poised for his age. And even back then, except for the times when he was wearing a plastic shirt and had glued rhinestones on his eyes, he looked almost legal.

I, on the other hand, was a thirty-six-year-old author then, and I’m pretty sure I told him that, but somehow this didn’t seem to matter. From the moment our eyes met over an avenue full of Macy’s floats and a platter piled high with questionable-looking lox at that infamous Thanksgiving Day Parade brunch, we’d been inseparable. It was one of the many cosmic imponderables that would come to characterize our relationship. There were a million reasons why we shouldn’t fit, and yet, for some reason, we did.

Here we are on the day that we met (see next page).

Those drinks we have in our hands were really good, although as you can see, they are both almost gone. We had about four or five of those theme concoctions that afternoon in order to chase that indigestible lox. Jason figured out how to make them and we drink them every Thanksgiving now. Jason calls them Macy’s Day Floats. Take one out for a test drive the next time you’re in the mood to defy gravity.

“All right, we can go by the pet store, but if it is adoption day, we are just looking,” I told him. I knew Jason really wanted a dog. I knew because he’d managed to work the word puppy into every other sentence for the last month and a half. Jason had lost his dog in the fallout, and since then he’d been as obsessed with getting a puppy as I was with french fries. Jason had also lost his apartment, and since I was going through a divorce myself, Jason had been “staying with me” until we both found our way back onto the road we had been traveling before things got so weird. We were on an extended detour, we figured, and eventually, we’d find our way back onto the main highway. In the meantime, at least as far as I was concerned, a dog was out of the question. There just wasn’t room for me, Jason, all of Jason’s stuff that wouldn’t fit in storage, including his sweeping epic of a media collection, and a dog in my junior one-bedroom. We could barely breathe as it was. And besides, I was a cat person.

Jason’s Barmacy

The Macy’s Day Float


1 ounce vodka

Splash Framboise

3 ounces champagne

Fresh red raspberries


HERE’S HOW YOU DO IT: Pour vodka and Framboise into the bottom of a very expensive-looking champagne flute. Fill to the top with champagne and garnish with 1 fresh raspberry. Repeat until you are hovering at least 25 feet above the treetops. Maintain a lower altitude if you are experiencing wind gusts over 40 mph.

When we finally reached the pet store, Jason pushed his face against the glass to get a better look at the rescue puppies that were up for adoption. There weren’t many to choose from that day. There were three anxious-looking Yorkies whose nerves would never tolerate the rough-and-tumble lifestyle of our party pad. Wrestling with each other right in front were two poodles, and I knew we were safe there because Jason is a poodleist, and therefore discriminated against poodles. And tucked back in the far corner was one nondescript and not particularly adorable white Chihuahua puppy with a heart-shaped spot on her butt and a broken tail, who looked like she’d just been marked down for clearance. Now, I’m not sure why what happened next happened. I had a pretty clean shot at a puppyless exit at this point, but for some reason, I didn’t take it.

Instead I said, “Oh Jason, look at that cute little white one.”

It wasn’t that this Chihuahua puppy was particularly cute, because to be perfectly honest, she wasn’t. She looked like a full-grown dog, only smaller. She was clearly an old soul. And it was obvious that she’d been in the window for a while. She was used to being on display, and used to being regularly passed over. Well, there were a lot of homeless dogs in the wake of 9/11, so she had a lot of competition. But she had this look that seemed to say, “So maybe my stocks have momentarily plunged, but whatever, I’m a bitch and I know what I’m worth.” From the minute I looked into her eyes, I was a total goner, and Jason, being Jason, picked up on it immediately.

“Should we go in and ask if we can hold her?” said Jason. Granted, this inscrutable little ghetto Chihuahua was not the adorable pug he’d been dreaming of, but bottom line, Jason wanted a puppy. Like I said, Jason is a shrewd man, despite his years. He moved to New York all by himself at seventeen, and this had taught him very young that when chances like this come along, you take them without asking too many questions.

“Can we hold the little white puppy?” Jason asked an overjoyed volunteer, who pulled the puppy immediately out of the window and thrust her into my arms. The puppy cuddled into the crook of my neck and stuck a cold nose, followed by a startlingly long tongue, up my left nostril. You think I’m kidding? Just take a look at the length of this thing. It’s seriously supernatural.

“Awww,” said Jason. “She loves you.”

“Awww,” said the clerk, who I think at this point was almost jumping up and down at the thought of this peculiar white puppy finding a home. “She’s been waiting for you two for a long time. We were just about to take her out of the window. But something told me to leave her in just one more day.”

I really didn’t want to know what “take her out of the window” meant. Obviously, neither did Jason, because before I managed to get the puppy’s tongue out of my nose, he had already picked out a lavender sweater with a big pearl button on it, and pulled out his wallet.

“I think we should call her Daisy,” said Jason matter-of-factly. “Daisies are the friendliest flower.”

Daisy worked for me. And it seemed to work for Daisy, who had fallen asleep and virtually disappeared into her purple cable-knit behind that enormous pearl button. Jason put her in my arms. Oh my God, I was a middle-aged divorcee holding a little dog in a sweater. I was that woman. How did this happen?

Jason grabbed the food and the wee-wee pads, and the twelve different little toys and treats, and the three additional sweaters, and the princess bed he’d slipped in while I wasn’t looking, and dragged me out to hail a cab before I could change my mind. Not that I could have, at that point. Once I grab on to something, I very rarely let go.

Daisy sat quietly in my lap on the cab ride home, watching her new world fly by for the first time through a cab window. Looking down at Daisy, so utterly at peace with whatever was going to happen next, I realized that for the first time since that terrible day just over a month before, I had gone at least thirty minutes and twenty seconds without even once thinking about an onion ring or a single french fry.


Learning to Feed the Daisy


Looking at Daisy now, and trying without success to wrap my fingers around her current circumference, it’s funny to remember that Jason’s and my first challenge as new puppy parents was to try and get her to eat something. Her response to sudden transition seemed to have been the opposite of mine. While my circular obsessive thoughts always revolved around the next empty calorie, Daisy seemed to find solace in turning up her nose at every morsel of puppy comfort food we offered her. And we worried about her, because she looked so, I don’t know, pathetic. I mean, look at her.

And it’s not like she looked any bigger when she was dry. She had hardly any fur. So I desperately wanted to put some meat on her bones. But Daisy wasn’t interested. She just sat quietly on the couch, all two and half pounds of her, curled into a tiny crook in a nearby pillow, and gazed at us, immovable. Meanwhile, Jason and I frantically waved every overpriced treat we’d brought home from the pet store in her face. But neither the Greenies biscuit, nor the teeny tiny rawhide shoe, nor the Pup-Peroni, nor even the Yummy Chummies seemed to impress her in the slightest.

It’s not that she was particularly cranky or disagreeable about it. She simply refused to be tempted, and I began to wonder if that look in her eye, which I had interpreted as doggie wisdom at the pet store, was in fact something else altogether…something that might come into play when we tried to get her to do other things, too, like poop on a pad, for example. Or sit.

“Well, just because she’s not going to eat doesn’t mean we have to starve,” I said, and headed into the kitchen. “Besides, I baked a cake. We can’t exactly have dessert without a meal.” I admit it. I was a little put out. I’m a passionate cook, I take my calories seriously, and it was hard not to take culinary rejection like this personally, even if it was from a forty-two-ounce Chihuahua.

“Dinner sounds good, doesn’t it, Daisy?” said Jason, who broke open a fresh pack of Smackos and put one in his mouth. “Mmmm-mmm-mmm,” said Jason, “these sure are delicious. Too bad Daisy can’t have any.” Daisy buried her head in the couch pillow. Well, there was a reason that Jason’s résumé said dancer/actor, rather than actor/dancer. Daisy wasn’t buying his performance for a second. And even I had to admit, that fakon looked awful.


On Sale
May 12, 2009
Page Count
208 pages
Hachette Books

Beverly West

About the Author

Beverly West is the co-author of the bestselling Cinematherapy series as well as six books with Jason Bergund including the Booksense bestseller What Pets Do While You’re at Work, Fat Daisy: Inner Beauty Secrets From a Real Dog, Pugtherapy: Finding Happiness One Pug at a Time, and Brides Behaving Badly: Wild Wedding Photos You Were Never Meant to See, and TVtherapy: The Television Guide to Life. Bev and Jason are newlyweds, and live on the upper west side of Manhattan with their four dogs, one cat, two turtles, and as of last counting, fourteen fish.

Learn more about this author