August 11th, 2020

Profile in Courage: Lucy Berkin

Announcements > Special Guests

Written by Jay Koh

This Sunday (August 16, 2020), Yoga Lab is proud to honor its first special guest: Lucy Berkin. 

A few notes about Lucy Berkin. She’s around 91 years old and is as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as a teenager. She’s a food aficionado who has never shied away from trying everything from dog kibbles to filet mignon. Although diminutive in size, she doesn’t back down against larger opponents. One area where she excels is her intuitiveness. She knows if those around her are happy, sad, and even sleepy. She’s incredibly gregarious, and she loves to be the center of attention. It’s probably the reason that she loves to be cuddled so much.

But the reason the Yoga Lab is honored by her presence is because Lucy Berkin represents many of the best traits of being human, and that’s an incredible achievement considering that she’s a pug. 

Btw, here are some pug facts you may not have known:

  1. A group of pugs is called a grumble
  2. They are an ancient breed whose origins stretch back to 400 BCE.
  3. They are a favorite of Tibetan Buddhist monks.
  4. They were bred to have forehead wrinkles that resemble the Chinese characters for “prince” (王子).

Ah yes, Lucy Berkin is a dog. But in many ways she’s more human than dog. 

One of those ways is her indomitable spirit. As she approaches 13 human years of life (which edges her ever closer to the canine centenarian category according to traditional conversions and around 70 according to more recent research), she’s no longer as spry on her hind legs as she used to be. And if you know anything about pugs, they are a feisty and spicy lot. In fact, a couple of years ago, she experienced severe weakening of her hind legs so that now she rarely can stand. 

In the past, I would see dogs with this condition, and it was heart-wrenching. But Lucy Berkin has me seeing things in a totally different light. She refuses to be a victim of her circumstance, and so she drags herself around with incredible speed. The other thing is that she’s got this incredible V-taper as her hind leg muscles have atrophied while her chest and shoulders have widened. It’s kind of like she’s bench-pressing massive weight while no one’s looking. 

She also does all sorts of yoga poses. Really. I’ve seen her do all sorts of balancing on her front legs while lifting her back legs off the ground. She does Janu Shirsasana, Sphinx and Frog poses, as well as all sorts of advanced poses that most humans never get to. On several occasions, I’ve caught her practicing her Side-Crow Pose. But without a doubt she excels at Shavasana on her stomach, especially after a big meal 😊

On a slow summer day, she can frequently be found with nose to the sky and licking the air as if to extract every iota of flavor from the air molecules surrounding her. Oftentimes, she’ll be in one of her three dog beds (hey, players gotta play, as the song says) deep in thought about the great mysteries of life: when is my next bath, why do wild turkeys keep walking across my yard, and how am I going to manipulate the humans around me to hand over their food to me? 

But what Lucy shows all of us is that advanced age and disabilities are nowhere near as important as living her best life. She’s not as fast or nimble as she used to be, but she doesn’t lie down and mourn all day about this. Instead, she keeps rising up and meeting the challenges of the new day with incredible gusto. 

Therefore, we honor Lucy because although we can’t always understand her, the depth of her commitment to living a great life and experimenting to find ways to overcome any obstacles which appear are key pillars upon which the Yoga Lab also stands. 

She loves people, so don’t be shy about saying hi to her this Sunday. 

2 thoughts on “Profile in Courage – Lucy Berkin”

  1. Ah Ms Lucy…..I sure can relate. Your spirit and spunk is something we humans need to learn. Gotta go have my strawberry now. ?‍♀️

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