Albert Einstein supposedly once said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what is an empty desk a sign of?” His cluttered desk was photographed the day after his death.

Perhaps I’m suffering from both conditions: on the one hand, the cluttered desk and cluttered mind syndrome, and at the same time, an empty desk and empty mind as I try to ferret out a good topic for this March 2019 column.


Suddenly, there are topic overloads — obstacles to retirement, aging in place models, reversing aging with stem cell rejuvenation, caring for the growing aging population with fewer babies being born, loss of a myriad of lives at all ages to opioid and drug deaths, and on and on.

There are so many possible topics that the mind goes blank with frustration trying to choose one to flesh out.

So, I turned to my dog for inspiration. After all, she turned 9 in December — that makes her a senior citizen at the vet’s office! She may have some traits that will inspire us prime-ers as we look to the arrival of spring.

First, she is always hopeful or full of hope. She is hopeful about going outside, going for a ride in the car, playing ball, going to the dog park to play and run, getting treats, getting a new toy, getting more to eat. She even uses several tricks to fulfill that last hope or desire; namely, racing around the house with something of mine until I give in and fulfill her wish.

Of course I have given in so many times that she is spoiled. And why not — we all need a little spoiling, a little pampering, another “toy”!

Although she is overweight eating too much of a prescription diet — and who isn’t —she strives to be thinner, if only I would play more ball and chase her around the dog park. She craves exercise — if only I would cooperate.

While we do a lot of walking, she always looks longingly toward the dog park and often pulls in that direction. She seems to know the value of play and exercise better than I. In fact, she often plays with her toys by herself but that’s no fun — better to be getting fit with someone else! So, she likes to put her balls under the furniture so that I have to stretch and get down to retrieve them.

Speaking of our walks reminds me that she likes to stay alert and keep vigilant for the sighting and hopeful chasing of squirrels and rabbits. With the instinct and drive to find these “critters,” she settles for their smells since I will not let her chase them.

She is happiest when she comes upon someone with another dog with whom she can fellowship and frolic. She is equally happy finding fellowship with that dog’s master by getting in some smells and receiving some kindly petting. In fact, she loves when visitors come to the house — she assumes they are there to see her and play with her.

She pays particular attention to little children because they often have toys that might be nice to play with and chew up.

The anticipation of getting something good to eat or doing something that will make her happy is a strong motivator and makes her look to me with great expectation. I cannot disappoint the look in her eyes when she puts her front paws on my leg and gazes upward! She has faith in me as her “higher power” that will take care of her needs and make her happy and content.

She definitely shows her gratitude. She tries to listen when I speak. She wants to be where I am. She lets me know when I need to pay attention to something around us. She respects my desire to sleep at night. In fact, she cherishes rest and relaxation for herself. She often curls up on my lap when I’m reading a book or magazine or watching television.

In writing about my dog I concluded that dogs might be able to teach us a few things as we age. Do we have hope and face each day with a hopeful spirit? Do we have faith in a “higher power” to help us in our needs? Do we take time to fellowship with others to keep us from loneliness? Do we get enough exercise to keep us fit and limber? Do we get the proper nutrition to meet our needs as we age? Do we get the right amount of rest and relaxation?

While I was answering these questions for myself, I came upon the Dr. Oz show on television where he was promoting the flipGoing to the Dogs Just Might be Inspirational50 app that concentrates on nutrition, fitness, and relaxation — all the things my dog was just teaching me! This flip50 supposedly “flips the script on life after 50.” Actually, it is very much like many other programs that are touted in the media these days.


Also, as I was completing this column I noticed the Harvard Medical School article, “How dogs keep us healthy,” printed in the Baltimore Sun on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019.

Take a look at the article, but choose a plan that suits you — or get a dog that can teach you what is important.