Everyone knows Dave Barry can make you laugh. But he might bring a tear to your eye, too.
The evidence is his latest book, Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog. Barry writes hilariously about seeing himself in his aging pooch. But he also writes movingly about a sudden catastrophe in his family.
In the excerpt below, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author, who often refers to himself as Mr. Booger Jokes, reminisces about past dogs Earnest and Zippy.
Dave Barry will speak at the Times Festival of Reading at 1 p.m. Nov. 9 in the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Student Center Ballroom. Free. festivalofreading.com.
From Lessons From Lucy
Take the matter of going outside in the morning. This is a very big thing for dogs, because it’s a chance to race around sniffing to determine where other dogs have made weewee, so they can make weewee directly on top of those places. Every dog on Earth is engaged in a relentless never-ending struggle with every other dog on Earth to establish weewee dominance. It’s an immense responsibility.
So anyway, I used to let Earnest and Zippy out via a two-stage procedure. Stage One was, I opened the back door, which led to the patio. This patio was surrounded by a screen enclosure, which is necessary in South Florida to prevent the mosquitoes from making off with your patio furniture. Earnest and Zippy would race across the patio to the screen door and wait there, eagerly, for Stage Two, which was when I opened the screen door, and they were able to sprint outside and commence weewee operations.
We used this procedure for several years; Earnest and Zippy totally understood it. Then, in 1992, Hurricane Andrew roared through our neighborhood, and when it was gone, so was the patio screen enclosure.
But the screen door was still there.
Just the door, standing alone in its frame at the edge of the patio, with nothing around it.
How do you think Earnest and Zippy responded to this new situation, when it was time to go out in the morning? If you’re a dog person, you have already guessed. I’d open the back door, and the two of them would sprint to the screen door — which I remind you was surrounded by nothing — and stand there, waiting for me to open it. I swear I am not making this up. It took them a couple of weeks to fully comprehend that they no longer needed to follow the two-stage procedure for going outside.