What can Daisy teach us about our health?

healthy lifestyle Jun 25, 2020

This is Daisy. She's our "pandemic dog." You know, since the world is turning upside down, why not throw a new creature into the household mix? 

The Transition

She came to join our family a month ago, a one-year-old rescue from Texas, and when she arrived she was incredibly timid. She wouldn't come within about 6 feet of me without lots of coaxing (and food bribes), and she spent most of her time hiding under our bed.

Now that she's been with us for a month, she's starting to show a lot of personality, and there are lots of ways she brings me joy. I love how excited she gets for her food every morning, leaping about and quivering with excitement - it's like Christmas morning with a toddler every day! She likes to hoard toys. She'll find systematically take one item at a time to her bed until she's sitting on a pile of 8-10 bones, balls, and other assorted toys. When she's in a mellow mood, she'll follow me around and just rest peacefully nearby wherever I might sit.

Of course, not everything is perfect. We had a few accidents when she first arrived. She's the queen of tracking muddy footprints across the kitchen. And wow, she's become a maniac on the leash. This girl wants to chase every small animal - our neighborhood is full of squirrels and rabbits - so badly that she's like a sport fish hooked on the end of the line. She'll pull and lunge and leap into the air, sometimes even flopping down on her side when she pulls herself over. I cringe every time I see a small creature, hoping she might not notice it (never happens).

We live in a time of rapid change

Our current social situation, with COVID-19 and social distancing, has placed us in a time of rapid change. I think Daisy's arrival can teach us a bit about staying healthy in this current pandemic.

Just as our family has had to adapt to Daisy's presence, creating new patterns and routines, we've all had to adapt to changing rules and norms for how we live day-to-day. Some new patterns in our lives can serve us well in our pursuit of good health. Others, like weeds in the garden, creep in and need be be uprooted.

It's likely that the rules will continue to evolve as our society opens up, and potentially has to close down again. This makes it hard to establish clear habits and routines to support our health. So here are two questions I encourage you to think about from time to time:

  1. What patterns right now are serving your health? It's worthwhile to look for what's good and appreciate it, as well as to think about how to maintain this in the future. Maybe you're walking more because you don't have to commute 2 hours daily. Maybe you've had time to reconnect with old friends, which helps you reduce stress. Maybe you're eating fewer meals out and find it's easier to drop the weight you've been struggling with. I'd encourage you to look for options to help maintain these benefits in the future.
  2. What patterns right now are interfering with your health? Paying attention to what is not serving you can help you experiment with solutions. Perhaps you've had more anxiety and this leads to stress eating. Maybe when you stopped going to the gym your exercise habit fizzled out. Perhaps with fewer time commitments you've been staying up later and become less focused on quality sleep. These are opportunities to say, "I'd like to work on a healthier routine here."


This process of periodic reflection, thinking about what is serving you well, so you can support and maintain those parts of your life that produce good results, and looking at what is hindering your progress, so you can look for opportunities to change, is a valuable tool in this changing time.

I'll leave you with this. I've always loved the early morning - the quiet before my wife and kids get up; the cool, crisp air; enjoying walks in solitude - and Daisy has helped me appreciate this time even more. But we have got to figure out how to walk on a leash.


Dr. Topher Fox


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