How It Helps a Writer to Have a Happy Dog

From writer Dave Barry’s 2019 book Lessons From Lucy:

I don’t want to sound all Californian here, but there’s something spiritual about dogs. If you’ve ever had a dog, you know what I mean: you can see it when you look into their eyes. Dogs aren’t people, but they’re not mollusks, either. Lucy is somebody. Lucy has feelings, moods, attitudes. She can be excited sad, scared, lonely, interested, bored, angry, playful, willful.

But mostly she’s happy. She sleeps more than she used to, and she moves a little slower, but her capacity for joy, her enthusiasm for life, does not seem to have diminished with age. Michelle and I often marvel at Lucy’s ability to be happy, especially compared to our own. We know, when we look at the big picture, that we should be happy, too: we’re very fortunate people leading very good lives. But we hardly ever stop to look at the big picture. We’re almost always looking at the little picture, which is a random collage of pesky chores, obligations and annoyances—deadlines, bills, doctor appointments, grocery lists, the insanely complex carpool schedule, the leak in the roof. . . .When we think about the bigger things, they’re usually things that worry us—disease, aging, death, politics, the economy, terrorism, the decline of the one-great American newspaper industry into a big frantic Twitter account.

So we spend a lot of time thinking about things that make us stressed and/or unhappy. Whereas Lucy never thinks about any of those things. Sometimes when I’m working I’ll pause from my tapping on my keyboard and look at her, sprawled on the floor at my feet. . .not concerned in the least about her career, or the future, or who the president is, as long as he doesn’t try to give her a bath.


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