Empty-nest Dog
One good book I have read lately is Flourish, by Martin Seligman, about Positive Psychology. According to Positive Psychology, one of the key factors contributing to personal wellbeing and happiness is gratitude. One recommendation is to do the “three blessings” practice every night just before going to sleep. A counterbalance to our natural tendency to pay attention to what is not going well, this practice involves writing down three things that went well during the day and why they happened. I tried it and liked it but have not kept it up. However, I do visit the website 1000 Awesome Things now and then for a silly gratitude reminder.

Another recommended activity is to write a letter of thanks to someone and, if possible, pay a visit and read the letter to her or him. Such a letter would be wasted on our dog, Suzie, yet she ranks high on my gratitude list. I know it’s trite to enumerate all the benefits one gets from one’s pet dog or cat. At The Hunger Site, I “click to give” support to animal shelters, among other things. I love the daily animal rescue stories and photos, and I note that as often as not, it is the humans who have been “rescued” by the animals they have brought into their lives. Suzie – our empty-nest dog – is not a rescue, but in important ways she has taken care of us as much as the other way around.
Suzie & Jack

To mention just a few things: arriving in our lives eleven years ago, just as our younger daughter was taking flight, she has accepted and seemed to appreciate all the attention, concern and care we have wanted to lavish upon her. An extrovert with winning ways, she helped me – a confirmed introvert – meet people and establish friendships when we moved to a new city. Suzie is a Welsh Corgi and therefore a herder. She particularly likes to herd retrievers, the more fanatic ball-chaser, the better. Through her attachment to her best friend, Jack, and my friendship with Jack’s owner, Nancy, my nerdy, workaholic self has learned to make time for a long daily walk in all weathers and discovered the pleasures of hiking and kayaking. Suzie was part of the glue that kept me and my husband connected during our separation. Like Montaigne’s cat, she makes me doubt the superiority of the human species and thereby helps me to feel kinship with all living things. At the same time, her loyalty, her patience and her capacity for joy inspire me to try to be a better person. Thank you, Suzie.