Title: The Dog Trainer
Author: Owen Keehnen
Publisher: Wilde City
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Sometimes the last thing you expect is exactly what you need.
Richard is a typical neurotic gay urbanite, a serial monogamist with a domineering peer group and a well-paying dead end job. That is until one night, while stumbling home drunk, Richard finds a puppy named Hambone. Almost immediately Richard’s life and his relationships begin to change. At the recommendation of Evelyn, his neighbor across the hall, Richard hires a dog trainer named Abe. From the moment Richard hears Abe’s voice on the phone he feels a connection with this professional pooch-handler. When they meet face-to-face the attraction is palpable. Richard loves the way Abe treats Hambone. Abe opens Richard’s eyes to a different take on life and what really matters.
Will love conquer all in the end? It will if Hambone has any say in the matter.
A boy and his dog. A man and his puppy.
Richard is not happy. Recently dumped, bored with his work and enjoying a good wallow in self-pity, he finds himself increasingly dissatisfied with his shallow, bitchy friends.
Late one night (or, rather, early one morning), Richard stumbles home, only to be stopped by the sound of a puppy crying in an overgrown lot. What he discovers there changes his life.
This is a little book, full of easy emotions and heartfelt romanticism. It is also, in its gentle way, an indictment of the superficiality and hollowness of some parts of contemporary youth-driven gay culture.
Aside from Richard, the other characters that matter are Evelyn, his divorcee neighbor across the hall; Abe, the titular dog walker and trainer who appears at his door one evening on Evelyn’s recommendation; and Hambone.
I didn’t like Richard much at first. I suspect this was calculated. One of the many small joys of this story is watching Richard’s transformation after he find Hambone, and hearing his thoughts as the ground slowly begins to shift under his feet. I came to sympathize and care about Richard, even as he fell under the spell of his big-pawed canine foundling.
You might have to be a dog-lover to really appreciate this book. I am, and I’m also someone who cries at Disney films (the lullaby scene in “Dumbo” messes me up a lot). But it seems to me that anyone who likes animals will get the point. I confess I couldn’t keep tears from flowing, and while I felt silly, it also just felt good.
This is not profound; it is not remotely complicated. Keehnen’s novella is all about how the smallest thing can suddenly change the way you see your world, and can help you understand what you need to find happiness.
Oh, boy, I want a puppy.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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