Four-legged Lessons for a Day Well Lived

March 21, 2017 3:06 am

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“The Older I Get, the More I’m Becoming My Dog”

Mark and Winnie


Let’s be honest…

The older I get, the more I’m becoming a lot of things I did not foresee a short time ago. Nor did my wife. But becoming my dog? And no, I am not talking about looking like my dog. Although friends have whispered that our furry white faces do bear some resemblance. I am flattered. Though no question Winifred’s snout is far more adorable.

While we’re on the subject, the more I’m becoming my dog, has nothing to do with Disney’s Shaggy Dog. I have yet to notice any physical manifestations of actually becoming a dog. No furry protuberance arising from my tail bone.

And the realization that I was becoming my dog was definitely not a 3AM flash of profound insight. More a creeping awareness, traceable back to turning over the day to day running of our business to someone far more patient, detailed, and less ornery than myself – in other words my wife of 45 years, Barbara. Since then I have had considerably more time to experience life with my five-year-old terrier-mix rescue; a relationship begun three years ago, when Winifred picked me out of the primates wandering past her portable pen at a Monterey County SPCA adoption event.

Ever since I have found myself reminded, cajoled, and dragged at the end of Winifred’s leash to explore lessons I should have learned by now. Truly, I have much to learn from Winnie. Not a bad thing. Could be the other way around – a scary proposition! But I’m getting ahead of myself.


The simple fact is, Winifred does indeed know things.

As I write at my desk, she leaves our bedroom, trots into my office and gives me the look. I swivel around giving her room to jump on my lap, her back against my chest, ears erect like goal posts, my chin splitting the uprights. Her eyes peruse the computer screen. She knows this is about her. I better get it right!

I feel no embarrassment in saying I have become more doggie in my performance of what, for Winifred – and increasingly moi – constitutes a well-lived day. And what does that even mean? The Greeks called it eudaimonia, often translated as happiness, joy, thriving and relishing life in all its twists and turns and detours.

Quite a load to fit into one day. And while what follows may not get you all the way there, Winnie and I promise to help expand your vision of how to begin the journey. For even the premise of becoming more like one’s pooch requires a shift in perspective – expanding how you choose to perceive your relationship with that furry family member. Not hard to do.


We humans just need to have a willingness to look at things from the other side. Or in this case, the other end of the leash.

Speaking of the leash, has it ever occurred to you that, in fact, you do not take your dog for a walk. It’s your dog that takes you! Look at the evidence: Who leads the way, you or your pooch? Who has to poop? Winifred takes me for a walk three times a day whether I have to poop or not! I rest my case.

So… If you are willing to let your dog to take you for a walk, then now would be a great time to get your tail in gear, follow your nose, and open your heart to exploring a day well lived, courtesy of my four-legged friend and teacher, Winifred.

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