Lessons from Lucy

Dave Barry is back with a funny and touching book about aging joyfully, which he relates through a topic he hasn’t written about in a long time: dogs.

Older fans remember when Barry regularly covered the adventures of his large main dog, Earnest, and his small emergency backup dog, Zippy, who he hoped to make as famous (and rich) as Loni Anderson. Unfortunately, he lost custody of the duo in a divorce and remained dogless until he and his daughter, Sophie, convinced mom Michelle to adopt a rescue dog who “couldn’t be sweeter if she tried.”

This was Lucy, who lived up to her description and always views life as a happy adventure. Reflective as he hits seventy, Dave outlines Lucy’s seven lessons, which he hopes to emulate for the rest of his life:

  • Make new friends (and keep the ones you have).
  • Don’t stop having fun (and if you’ve stopped, start having fun again).
  • Pay attention to the people you love. (Not later. Right now.)
  • Let go of your anger, unless it’s about something really important, which it almost never is.
  • Try not to judge people by their looks, and don’t obsess over your own.
  • Don’t let your happiness depend on things; they don’t make you truly happy, and you’ll never have enough anyway.
  • Don’t lie unless you have a really good reason, which you probably don’t.

Dave wraps all these instructions together in an unplanned final chapter relating how his family endured Sophie’s sudden onset of an autoimmune disease, which was the ultimate value test of Lucy’s lessons.

It’s almost impossible to imagine the ever-immature Dave Barry, who’s entertained us with silly stories, booger jokes, and catchphrases (“I swear I am not making this up”) for decades, devoting serious thought to getting older (although if anyone could do it joyfully, it would be him). But it’s what Dave’s doing at seventy, and he has the best teacher imaginable: Lucy, the ten-year-old rescue mutt who couldn’t be sweeter if she tried.

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