Dave Barry Will Not Drink Out Of A Toilet But He Might Try A Few Things His Dog Lucy Has Taught Him

May 14, 2019

South Florida author Dave Barry wants to be more like his dog, Lucy.

Lucy is big and black with white circles around her eyes and as Dave Barry describes in his newest book, “Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog,” she’s kind of the life of the party. When Barry turned 70-years old, which is the same age as Lucy, he noticed she was doing a good job at aging. She was making more friends, was never angry and was always so loving.

Lucy’s teachings lead Dave to write this new book about the absurdities of his daily life, how to enjoy them and turn them into happiness. He talked to Sundial host Luis Hernandez about what Lucy means to him and the lessons she has taught him.

This interview has been edited lightly for clarity.

BARRY: My basic premise for my whole life, and I made a living writing columns about this is: Dogs are not rocket scientists. I've told this story about a million times. After Hurricane Andrew, I had two dogs at the time: Ernest and Zippy. I used to let them out in a two-stage procedure every morning. And you know dogs are very excited about going out in the morning. They can't believe it even though you do it every single day. So it was a two-stage procedure: the back door to our house and then a patio. So here comes Hurricane Andrew and the patio is orbiting the Earth. Ernest and Zippy would run to the door. There was nothing preventing them from going to the yard. It was the procedure we had learned. So what I'm saying here is, dogs are not geniuses.

But even though they're not smart they're wise. That is to say dogs do certain things very consistently that make them happy. They are with you all the time because that makes the dog happy. Dogs like to play because it's fun. They will always play. Anytime you pick up the ball they're ready to play. And we're like that when we're little kids. We make friends easily. We play a lot. We have fun. And then when you get older all that goes away you become more and more distracted more and more insular, especially when you get to be old like me.

Dave Barry's dog Lucy has taught him eight important life lessons.
Credit JEFFREY SALTER / Courtesy

WLRN: When you went to the editors with this [book], they had to have known it was a self-help book. It’s these beautiful lessons that you share of experiences and how Lucy helped you.

Yeah. It took my getting old to decide to write a book about it. I focused on what it is she does that makes her so consistently happy. What is it that [Lucy] does that I could do....Except for drinking from the toilet although you know, knock it if you haven't tried it I guess. But what specific things she does that I could do.

One example, Lucy, my dog, and I think most dogs.. they don't get mad that easily and they don't hold on to anger. Well, Lucy gets mad sometimes. She sits during the day in my office in the back of the house and looks out on a driveway. She keeps an eye on things and once a week these men come to our house and you will not believe this...they take our garbage. They don't even ask. They just come and take it. And Lucy goes insane with rage, she barks looking at me. She's furious. But then as soon as the men are gone she's fine. And I know if they were to come in the house she would love them to death. So she doesn't have a lot of anger in her and in what she does have she lets go, whereas I've get furious very easily over stupid little things. Like if the light changes in Miami the only way you're gonna find out is if people will be honking at the person in front who will be on the phone. Nobody is ever looking at the light. Why would you bother to look at the light when the people behind you will let you know by honking eventually. Well, unless they're all on their phones. I get furious about that behavior and I've tried -- really tried -- to just calm down because it doesn't matter. It never matters as much as I think it does when it's happening. There's no point in getting that angry about a 10 second delay and yet I do it.

Dave Barry and his dog Lucy.
Credit JEFFREY SALTER

And Sundial asked listeners: What do your pets mean in your life? And what lessons have you learned from your pet? 

My cat has taught me that it's never a bad time for a snuggle or a nap - or a snuggly nap. - Farrar in Miami

My tabby has taught me to breathe and get rid of stress. No matter what kind of day I’ve had, when I walk in the door in the evening she makes me smile/laugh! Pets give so much. - Mike Hurrell 

I've learned that they love me to death. - Miguel Perez

My dog Auggie taught me to not sweat the small stuff and not pet the wet stuff. - Stacey M. Peters

To always be happy and grateful. The wagging tail philosophy by Tiki (my dog). - Jose

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