Step Away From the Monitor, Please


Politics, the economy and the approaching holidays are all creating so much stress. All the humans I know are feeling the pressure and we pets are too. We pick up your emotions by your body language and the tone of your voice.  These next months are going to be filled with a lot of stress.  What can you do to bring some calm into your life? My recommendation is to spend less time at the computer, and ration your election coverage.

Instead, exercise, take a long walk, have conversations with friends and find moments that bring you joy — to savor and to give you room to catch your breath.

We found such a moment yesterday on the Diane Rehm Show (WAMU 88.5 FM), whose guest was Jon Katz, author of Izzy & Lenore: Two Dogs, an Unexpected Journey, and Me.  What a delightful hour we spent listening to the stories Katz told Diane. If you dont already know, Katz is an author who has written six novels and 11 works of non-fiction. He writes a column for Slate about dogs and he is the co-host of a radio show, Dog Talk, on Northeast Public Radio.

Katz, a former journalist, one day met Orson, an untrainable border collie. Katz wrote a book about their life together, A Dog Year, which sold millions of copies and changed Katzs life. You know, we pets have a way of doing that to you. Many books, appearances and radio shows later, Katz lives at Bedlam Farms with a pack of border collies, sheep, donkeys, cats, and a steer named Elvis.

In his interview with Rehm, Katz talked about his new book and the profound impact that Izzy and Lenore have had on his life. Lenore, a black lab, was one of those dogs with a true joy for living. Katz has suffered from depression for many years and there was just something about Lenore that made him smile every time he looked at her. She came into his life at just the right time.

Katz then talked about Izzy, an unruly border collie who became a master at being a calm companion to patients in hospice care. Katz told Rehm that he remembered one time when the family member of a patient called to ask if Izzy could come and sit with the patient. Izzy climbed up on the bed and stayed there for about an hour. While Izzy took care of the patient, Katz spoke with the family. After they left, Katz remarked that Izzy had done all the work and he was just accompanying him. He often referred to himself as Izzys driver.

Katz talked about Izzys uncanny ability to know when the dying patient no longer needs him and the family does. It is hard to imagine how Izzy would know whom to comfort, but he does. We all do. Many times Izzy is invited to participate in the funeral of a person whose last days were made better just by his presence.

When we got home we did a Google on Katz and found his web site This is a lovely site filled with articles and information on Bedlam Farms and Katzs books. Spend a few moments looking at the photo gallery. Katz is an accomplished photographer and the pictures are lovely and calming.

I was so glad to have heard the Diane Rehm Show yesterday. These beautiful opportunities are everywhere if you just let them in. Times are tough and the pressure is on but the sun still comes up in the morning, birds sing and every day that you wake up and peek in the mirror and see that you are still here is a good day.