A few weeks ago, I shared the story of Gus, a service dog that recently had a short spa vacation at our home. Gus had grown a bit rotund in the care of his wheelchair-using owner, which led me to conclude that a good way to help a friend in need is to take her dog for walks.
Dawn Marcus saw that column and e-mailed me to share her own canine fitness idea: Your dog can lead you to better health.
Now, Dawn is a physician, a board-certified neurologist and professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, so she has actual medical knowledge behind her. She also has a good sense of humor, clearly on display in her book: Fit As Fido: Follow Your Dog to Better Health.
With chapter headings that include "Eat Like a Dog," "Play Like a Dog" and "Sleep Like a Dog," Dawn puts a fun spin on familiar advice. No, she doesn't want you to eat Alpo. She does, however, want you to eat regular meals at regular times, and watch the portions. Just like you do for your dog.
And she wants you to get your priorities in order. Make time every day for sleeping, eating, exercising and socializing. Your dog is smart enough to know this; you just have to follow his example.
I asked Dawn if she'd like to write a column for Personal Best, and she cheerfully obliged. You'll find her take on how to get fit in your backyard pool — even if it isn't big enough for laps — on Page 8. She offers lots of tips that are helpful even if you have no intention of ever letting a dog in your pool.
You can order her book on her Web site, www.fitasfido.com. While you're there, check out her interview with a British veteran of the first Gulf War who reclaimed his life after severe injury with the help of — you guessed it — an amazing service dog.
It's great to have medical professionals like Dawn writing for Personal Best. Barbara Rhode, a Pinellas County family therapist who has written several columns for us, is back this week with an article on Page 19 about gender differences that I think you'll find enlightening.
So many doctors, therapists and other experts help us every day to explain to readers of the St. Petersburg Times what's going on in the world of health and medicine, I couldn't possibly name them all here. Let me just shout out a heartfelt thanks, and extend an invitation to other professionals who'd like to contribute articles about their own areas of expertise.
I hope we'll see you soon in the pages of Personal Best.