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Interview: April 3, 2019

In Dave Barry’s latest book, LESSONS FROM LUCY: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author shows readers how to age gracefully, taking cues from his beloved and highly intelligent dog, Lucy. Michael Barson, the Director of Publicity at Poisoned Pen Press, recently chatted with Dave about how Lucy came to be a part of the Barry family, why he has her to thank for getting to know many of his neighbors, the most important life lesson he has learned from observing and living with her, and his honest feelings about those who believe that cats make better pets than dogs. Lucy is the first dog you’ve owned since you were a teenager in the ’60s. Do you now regret having waited so long?

Dave Barry: Actually, I had several post-teenage dogs, but Lucy is my first one since the mid-’90s. I regret my dog-less years, but I have to blame my wife, Michelle, who was adamantly opposed to getting a dog, until finally our daughter, Sophie, wore her down, and we got Lucy. Of course, Michelle immediately fell in love with Lucy and is now the world’s biggest dog person. Lucy can walk up to Michelle any time she wants and lick her right on the face, and Michelle loves it. Whereas I must get permission in advance.

BRC: Although Lucy is nominally Sophie’s pet, you’ve no doubt invested 3,500 hours or so chipping in on her care. In what area does Lucy most impact your day-to-day life?

DB: Walking. I walk Lucy around the neighborhood every day, and as a result I’ve gotten to know many of my neighbors. This is unusual in Miami, where it’s possible to live next to people for years and never know their names unless they get arrested for being drug dealers. (I’m not suggesting that everybody in Miami is a drug dealer. Some of us are arms dealers.)

BRC: Someday in the future, Lucy will have transitioned on to Valhalla, the eternal residence of all good doggies. With Sophie no longer at home to hector you, do you think you and Michelle would opt to get a new dog just for your own satisfaction? And if that does happen --- puppy or adult dog?

DB: First of all, LUCY WILL BE AROUND A LONG TIME. But if she does transition, we will definitely get another rescue dog, I’m guessing a puppy, because that’s how we started with Lucy. In fact, Sophie and I have been lobbying Michelle to get a puppy while Lucy’s still around, so Lucy can show her the ropes.

BRC: Your book examines several life lessons you learned from observing and living with Lucy. Of them all, which are you most grateful for?

DB: I will be serious here: Lucy’s best lesson is that every day you wake up reasonably healthy and near your loved ones is a good day --- a blessing --- and you should try to appreciate every moment of it.

BRC: What are your honest feelings about people who don’t allow their dogs to live 90% of their lives on our furniture?

DB: That would be my wife, Michelle. My honest feeling is that I love her very much, but she is not being realistic.

BRC: What are your honest feelings about people who maintain that cats make a superior pet to dogs? (Be frank.)

DB: I feel sorry for these people. They don’t get to go to the dog park, where the dogs are happily playing with each other, and the dog owners are chatting happily about their dogs. Instead they go to the cat park, where no cats are visible, and the cat owners are standing around thinking, “Where the hell is my cat?"