Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog by Dave Barry

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Front cover book shot of Lessons from Lucy by Dave Barry

A special introduction from the author: Lessons From Lucy is about my dog, Lucy, and the things she has taught me. Lucy and I are both getting on in years — I’m 71, and she’s 11 — but while I’ve tended to become crotchety, Lucy has somehow managed to remain playful and happy, even joyful. So I decided to try to figure out how she does it, and to see if I could improve my own happiness by doing the things Lucy does, except for drinking from the toilet.

Excerpt from Page 89:

Mindfulness, according to its advocates, makes you

more relaxed, more at peace. Mindfulness training, which

includes meditation techniques, is said by many to reduce stress and make you healthier and happier.

So mindfulness sounds like a pretty good idea.

You know who’s really mindful, in her own way?



She is always in the present moment. She lives for

now. She doesn’t dwell on the past or worry about the

future. She definitely doesn’t overthink. She spends most

of the day in a serene, semimeditative state that I would

call Dog Snooze, but she’s always aware of what’s going

on around her, and the instant anything happens she is

right there, totally into whatever it is, intensely aware of

the sounds, the sights and of course the smells.


She accepts her feelings; she does not second-guess

herself. Sometimes these are not happy feelings: for example, when the man comes to take our

garbage, Lucy objects vociferously, because—she cannot believe we allow

this to happen—he is taking our garbage. But the instant

the man is gone from our driveway, he’s gone from Lucy’s

mind, and she’s on to the next moment, which usually

means back into Dog Snooze. She does not stress, and I

envy that.


But what I really admire about Lucy’s mindfulness—

and here we are getting to the lesson for this chapter—is

the way it enables her to be such a wonderful companion. It’s a cliché, but only because it’s so obviously

true: nobody loves you the way your dog loves you. When you’re

with your dog, you may mentally be elsewhere, but your

dog is not; your dog is always right there with you. When

you’re gone, your dog is waiting for you to come back, so

it can be with you again. Because being with you makes

your dog happier than anything else.


I spend most working days at home, and Lucy is always close, moving from room to room as I do, waiting

to see where I settle and then finding a spot on the floor

a few feet away. When I walk in her direction, her tail

thumps the floor, a Geiger counter of happiness. When I

pet her, her entire body quivers with joy. When I talk to

her, she listens to me as hard as she can, staring at me

intently, head cocked, ears flexed, eager to pick up every

sound, especially if one of the sounds turns out to be



She’s not just near me; she’s with me. And being with

me makes her happy. It’s the simple pleasure of being in

the moment with somebody you love.


About the Author:

Dave Barry has been a professional humorist ever since he discovered that professional humor was a lot easier than working.

For many years he wrote a newspaper column that appeared in more than 500 newspapers and generated thousands of letters from readers who thought he should be fired. Despite this, Barry won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, although he misplaced it for several years, which is why his wife now keeps it in a secure location that he does not know about. One of Barry's columns was largely responsible for the movement to observe International Talk Like a Pirate Day every year on September 19. This is probably his most enduring achievement.

Barry has written more than 30 books, including the novels Big Trouble, Lunatics, Tricky Business and, most recently, Insane City. He has also written a number of books with titles like I'll Mature When I'm Dead, which are technically classified as nonfiction, although they contain numerous lies. Two of Barry's books were the basis for the CBS sitcom Dave's World, which can probably still be seen on cable TV in certain underdeveloped nations.

Barry lives in Miami with his family and a dog that is determined to urinate on every square inch of North America.