Sandy Puppy Toes


One of the best ingredients of life are those moments of pure joy. I’m not talking about moments when you are just really really happy or content. But moments of pure unbridled living in the moment joy.

I can’t speak for all of history, obviously. Maybe every point in history, if one could visit, look around, and poll the populace. Would leave me with the same conclusion about our ancestors as I feel about us.


Human lives just seem so fast paced and full of pointless distractions in this day and age. Even when there is no need to hurry we seem to be in a rush.

Netflix just dropped a new show? Binge watch all the episodes in one sitting. Nothing planned for the evening? Do twenty-five over the speed limit all the way home just to sit on the couch. Visiting with friends you’ve not seen for awhile? Spend more time checking your phone then you do making eye contact.


Having an illness like idiopathic or non-idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis just adds to this. Not only does one have the unavoidable normal day to day stuff. Along with all the time wasters we fill our lives with…

Now there is doctor visits, and specialist consults, and testing, and more testing, and pulmonary rehabilitation, and meds, and lots and lots of just trying to catch one’s breath. It can be really hard to find those moments of pure joy.

Which is one of the amazing things puppers can teach us. How to create moments of pure joy out of seemingly nothing and be overwhelmingly happy about the simplest things.


One such moment of unbridled joy came along during my voyage around the state of Texas. On the return leg of our journey, as we were heading East, I spotted Monahans Sandhills on the road atlas.

We have the Sand dunes in Indiana up north along Lake Michigan. So I was curious how sand hills might be similar or different.

I’m pretty sure that the decision to go ahead and check ’em out was the highlight to Marin’s entire trip. Bar none. I don’t think any trail, camp site, or parking lot she explored compared.


We spent the better part of a day at the sandhills before getting back on the road. But there were RVs spaces if someone wanted to stay overnight. Each has electric and water hook ups. A picnic table, fire ring, and awning. Plus a shower house and restrooms near by.

None of that is what got Marin excited though… What got Marin excite was the sand. Lots and lots of sand.

Which of course makes sense… Its the “sandhills” after all. But like all dogs most of the English language is lost on my pup. So she was unprepared for what lay before her as she emerged from the skoolie.


Heaven… pure and simple. Heaven is where she found herself. She wanted to go 90 miles per hour to explore every hill and sniff every grain of sand the park contained.

Now it is indeed beautiful there. I spent quite a bit of time perched atop a sand dune looking out across nothing but rolling sand. Once Marin had worn down a bit that is.

However, I really wouldn’t recommend it for anyone needing a walker, rollator, or wheelchair. The sand is firm yet moist. Kind of like beach sand before you get to the real wet stuff beside the water.

So it would be pretty hard going if not on your own two feet.


Sadly there are no hard packed trails to stay on or an easily reached vantage point from which take it all in. You sink a little ways in with each steps and going up hill can be a bit strenuous.

However; if you are not yet on oxygen, are on relatively low supplementary oxygen with exertion, or cleared for exercise post transplant… then I would say stop and see this place if it is along your path.

Especially if you have little ones or doggos in tow.


Marin pulled me all over those hills. She would run one way and then the other. Up hill and down. Nose to the air one moment and smashed to the ground the next. It was the ultimate case of the zoomies.

I never let her dig up the yard. Something she is prone to want to do when she starts zipping from one end to the other. But at the sand hills I let her have at it.

Handing a homeless man a million dollars wouldn’t have made him half as happy, as Marin was just being free to dig and run.


That unbridled joy was contagious. Sure she was wearing me out. But there was no cell phones. No checking Facebook. No need to be anywhere. No reason to be in a hurry.

Happiness is simple. It’s a choice. I’m not saying it is easy. There is plenty of distractions and things to weigh on our minds. It’s hard to stay positive when you struggling for each breath.

It’s what I’ve tried to do throughout my medical journey however. Sure I’ve got plenty I could focus on thats capable of bringing me down. I certainly have my moments when it does. But I choose not to stay in those funks.


I could have been upset with Marin’s running around. Yanking my arms darn near out of their sockets. I could have worried that letting her dig in the sand would lead to more digging at home. I could have been annoyed when she prodded me with her nose, wanting to go go go, when I paused to rest.

Those thoughts never entered my mind though. I lived in the moment like she was doing and I felt that pure unbridled joy.


I wish I could recommend Monahans Sandhills to anyone and everyone with IPF/PF, I made a great memory there, but knowing the limits of fibrosis I really can’t do so.

What I do highly recommend though, is letting yourself find joy in simple things. Just like Marin found in nothing more than a oversized sand box. Also, do your absolute best to share that joy with others. I’d rather my laugh, than my lungs, be the focus of those around me.

Fibrosis increasingly takes away the ability to breath. Don’t let it steal your ability to be happy too. Dig in for the long haul and let yourself enjoy life at every opportunity. It’s what makes those breaths worth fighting for.



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