Lessons from Lucy by Jeanne Rosner, MD
Updated: Jun 1
Our family struck gold 10 years ago when our rescue dog Lucy—a Chihuahua-terrier mix—came into our lives. Instantly, she was a wonderful addition to our family. She also came to us with many unknown health issues. In her first year in our home, Lucy was in and out of the vet continuously with high fevers and extreme lethargy. Even when she was down and out, she still expressed love, often giving kisses with her hot fevered tongue. After many hospitalizations, she underwent surgery and was found to have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The diagnosis meant that she had to be on a special diet and take multiple medications. She’s been my little resilient patient ever since—and she’s been thriving on this regimen for the past nine years. If you were to meet her, you would have no idea that she has suffered so much.
As I sit down to write this post, Lucy is happily cuddling beside me. While reflecting on the past 10 years with her, I realize she has taught me so many lessons. I’d like to share those lessons with you. Perhaps we can all learn something from my favorite furry friend!
First and foremost, Lucy gives love unconditionally—and lots of it—to anyone and everyone. Whether she is greeting me at the door or when I come into a room, she shares an abundance of kisses and a wagging tail. Everyone is her friend. Loving unconditionally is her trademark. Make no mistake, she also loves receiving love, and she asks for it. A lot. She often stops me in my tracks, demanding I sit down and cuddle with her. This encourages me to pause and just be with her in the present moment with love. Experiencing love and sharing love have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and may even improve our cardiovascular health. She is such a wise soul.
Lucy is always open to new possibilities. She has a proper “can-do” attitude and is game for anything. Even when she seems to be comfortably resting or asleep, all it takes is hearing “Let’s go take a walk” or “Follow me” for her ears to perk up and her body to signal that she welcomes the opportunity. When we are open to new possibilities, we allow things to unfold as they are, organically, rather than forcing them to happen. This space of open possibility lends itself to a world rich in creativity and curiosity. She reminds me of this daily, and she creates this space effortlessly.
Being outside in nature is one of Lucy’s favorite pastimes. She stops to smell the roses, the grasses and the markings left by other neighborhood dogs. Her olfactory fact-finding missions often last forever, but I love that she gives me an opportunity to pause. I notice all the beauty around me and feel appreciative and grateful for it all. If it weren’t for her, I’d likely miss this chance to be genuinely in the present moment. She provides constant reminders that being mindful and present helps us to live happier and more meaningful lives.
Plus, she gets me outside. Studies have shown that spending time in nature is stress-relieving, helps reduce rates of depression and promotes creativity. In a recent study, researchers showed that exposure to green space may support cognitive health. Clearly, Lucy is on to something big!
Lucy is the mistress of chill. Often, when I am chopping away in the kitchen, she will find a sunny patch outside where she can still see me and bask in the sunlight without a care in the world. As we all know, giving yourself time to rest and relax is an essential element of self-care. It helps improve mood, decreases blood pressure and reduces stress—to list just a few of the many benefits. She is really, really good at rest!
Every day, without fail, Lucy does a variety of stretches. We often do Downward Dog together. Stretching is helpful for our joints, flexibility and balance. It also helps improve our ability to perform daily activities and decreases the risk of injury. And as we age, it’s even more important to incorporate stretching into our daily routine. Lucy extends into a full body stretch whenever she can—it’s a friendly reminder of how nourishing it can be for all of us to move in this way.
At the end of every day, Lucy is tired and spent. She is ready for bed every single day by 8 pm and, once she falls asleep, she is out cold. She is a sleep master, cuddling up to any warm human to rest whenever possible. Sleep is one of the most important activities we can do to benefit our health in so many ways, ranging from memory to immune support. Practicing good sleep hygiene with a regular waking and bedtime schedule is best.
This sweet dog has taught me so much—she clearly knows a thing or two about healthy living! We may have “rescued” her, but she has rewarded us with so much more. Her simple but wise ways serve as a daily reminder to connect with what’s important—like your relationships—and to live a healthy life filled with happiness and meaning. It is a joy to be reminded of these important lessons from my favorite furry friend, Lucy.
Jimenez MP, et al. Residential green space and cognitive function in a large cohort of middle-aged women. JAMA Network Open. 2022;5(4):e229306. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.9306.
The Power of Pets: Health Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions. National Institutes of Health. Accessed May 31, 2023.
The Power of Pets: Health Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions. National Institutes of Health. Accessed May 31, 2023
Jeanne Rosner, MD
Jeanne Rosner is a board-certified anesthesiologist who practiced pediatric anesthesia at Stanford Medical Center for nearly 20 years. In 2011, she began teaching nutrition classes in her son's 5th-grade science class. It was an "aha" moment for her. She realized that learning and teaching about nutrition, health and wellness in her community was her destiny.
Since retiring from anesthesia, she has been a nutrition educator at local middle and high schools throughout the Bay Area. She teaches students about the importance of eating food closest to the source, making good food choices and eating in a balanced and moderate way.
Jeanne started SOUL (seasonal, organic, unprocessed, local) Food Salon in 2014. SOUL Food Salon's mission is to educate and empower people to be healthier. She holds events (salons) at which experts in the health and wellness community share their knowledge on how to lead a healthier life.