Zeppelin 2

What My Dog Taught Me About Enthusiasm

Zeppelin 2 My dog, Zeppelin, spent the last four days in the hospital. (She’s going to be okay. She’s got atypical Addison’s disease, which is an adrenal disorder treatable with daily steroid therapy.) But the point of this post is not to elicit pity for my sick dog, but rather to share what I’ve learned while she’s been gone. When Zeppelin is home, she is a tornado of unstoppable enthusiasm. As soon as my feet hit the floor each morning, she’s doing circles, shaking the house, jingling the tags on her collar, taking the stairs two at a time. This is a creature who eats the same food every day, drinks only water, and walks basically the same mile of neighborhood (on days when my wife and I aren’t too lazy to take her out). And yet, every single morning is her favorite. Until she was gone for four straight days, I didn’t realize what a powerful impact her enthusiasm had on my everyday experience. And so, my dog’s Addison’s disease has taught me something I want to share; something about enthusiasm and happiness, and how we can spread it in the world.


Since I’m the first human being in my household to rise each morning, and since cats are cats, my dog is the leader and the example-setter when it comes to enthusiasm (which, by the way, originally meant “to be possessed or filled with the presence of a god”). With her gone, I found myself dragging my feet in the morning. There was a smile-consciousness missing; an element that, apparently, my dog had been providing. It’s a domino effect from there; when my wife got up, I was less enthused, so she was, too. Then she trundled off in her sub-enthusiastic state to influence hundreds of middle school children. Then they went home and spread their unenthusiasm across the world via the internet. As you can see, my dog being sick suddenly had world-altering consequences. Laugh, if you want, but I was patient zero. I was there. I saw it happening.


So there I was, left without my enthusiasm generator. Day one went by, and it was drearier for Zeppelin’s absence. Day two: same thing. On day three, I realized I couldn’t go on like this. I was getting depressed! Not just because I was worried about my sick dog, but because enthusiasm was quite literally missing from my life. I had to do something about it. So when I went downstairs to make coffee, I broke my usual pattern and blasted some Weird Al Yankovic. It worked; I broke the chain of apathy with a choice. I came upstairs singing to myself. My wife picked up the tune. She left for work with a smile on her face. Don’t believe me? Here: my parents will prove it to you. They sent this video to lift Zeppelin’s spirits. If you choose to watch it, it will lift yours, too. Go on. I dare you.


Like most forces of change, enthusiasm is a habit that must be built up and maintained. My dog may be predisposed to it, but if she’s having a down day, she grabs her much-abused plush squirrel to remind her. All it takes is a few squeaks to get her back in the game. I think people are not so different from dogs–but since humans have, on some level, a more evolved consciousness, we also have the responsibility that goes with it. So I challenge you: be the enthusiasm generator today. Risk being foolish. Endure cynicism with a sense of humor and an unrepentantly pleasant smile. See if it doesn’t make your life better.


As Zeppelin would say, a spoonful of peanut butter makes the medicine go down. (Or, anything else you coat with peanut butter.)

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Jeff Garvin

Author of SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN. Vegan, Gryffindor, aspiring revolutionary.

Comments (6)

  • Zander Vera


    Just love this post my friend. I generally either light up the room or set it on fire with my mood and this post really put me in a great mood! Cheers to you and have a great day!


  • Liz


    Your parents always lift my spirits 🙂

    I’m glad Zeppelin is okay, a sick pet is never any fun.


    • Jeff Garvin


      Thank you! I’m hoping the folks will be regulars on my blog.


  • ElectroFox


    Probably my favorite blog post from you ever. I laughed out loud, and I cried softly. I am convinced that dogs are our ultimate teachers. I don’t know who I’d be without mine. I will always love my CheeWee (RIP), and Mia and Eli Picasso take such good care of me now. God bless the canines. Off to be enthusiastic…. Thank you for this. ❤️


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