Dave Barry has a dog. A nice girl named Lucy. I have a dog, a (pretty) good boy named Barney. Dave thinks he's learned a lot about how to live a better life from Lucy, and he compiled that learning into seven lessons, each with its own chapter. Spoiler alert, here they are:
- Make new friends. (And keep the ones you have.)
- Don't stop having fun. (And if you have 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.
Good things: Dave is best when he's being funny and observant of both his dog and his own life. There are a number of good yarns: about his awful band, the Rock Bottom Remainders; his work with the World Famous Lawn Rangers, a group whose members parade with a broom in one hand, pushing a lawn mower with the other; the reason he woke up in hung over in a hotel room with "NO SPLEEN" sharpied on his arm. And dog stories, of course.
But I have quibbles: the "lessons" are pretty much the ones you can derive dog-free, and dogs are optimized for dogginess anyway, not humanness. And, truth be told, when Dave is not being funny, he can be … a little preachy.
In fact, while reading, I was thinking: "Dave's a little preachy." When on page 184 I see Dave admitting that he's "maybe even a little preachy in places".
OK, all is forgiven, Dave.
And it turns out there's one last lesson. And this one is moving and pretty agonizing. I read Dave's blog, and he was absent for awhile. Ah, this explains why. Small spoiler: things turn out OK.