Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review: It's Just A Dog by Russ Ryan

Take a deep breath.  Relax.  You read that title and began to clench your teeth, right?  Well, this book isn't at all what you think.

When my beloved Lucy passed away last year, I felt as though my heart had been ripped out.  I was sure that my life would never be the same.  After all, not only was Lucy my heart dog and constant companion,  she inspired my business, For Love of a Dog.  

Lucy is the dog in my business logo.  Without Lucy, I may never have created any dog jewelry.  When Lucy died, a bit of the fire that fanned my jewelry muses died, as well.  Life really was not the same in any way.

Some people just didn't get it.  "It's just a dog," they said (or thought to themselves - though it showed on their faces.)

Russ Ryan gets it.  Oh, dog!  He really gets it.

It's Just a Dog is dedicated to Petey Ryan and Charlie Dickens.  You guessed it: dogs.  Petey, a Jack Russell terrier, was over 14 years old when he passed away in 2010.  Charlie, a Terrier / Retriever mix and "rebound dog," died suddenly after eating a poisonous mushroom right before publication of this book.

Russ notes:
"Being a dog widower has taught me that it doesn't matter if you have a dog ten years or ten months - the pain and hurt is still the same. Fortunately, the good part is that the love never dies!"
Russ Ryan and Charlie Dickens
Your teeth just unclenched, didn't they?  And now you're reaching for a tissue or two, right?

Now you're ready to read about a great new dog lover book:  It's Just A Dog.  It's a hilarious tale with lots of heart and I thoroughly enjoyed it.   

Note: one very lucky reader will receive a free paperback copy of this book!  [See the Rafflecopter below.]

Here's a summary from the publisher:
What if your dog died and then came back as a ghost... that could talk?  Would you welcome him back with open arms or run away scared to death?

This is the premise of It's Just A Dog, a new novel about love, loss, and one man's dog who rises up yapping from the grave.

Charlie Keefe is not just your typical dog lover - he's a world famous dog painter, a.k.a. "The Picasso of Pooch Portraits".  Unfortunately, Charlies' beloved muse, Pete, his lovable Jack Russell terrier, has just died.  And he's totally devastated by the loss of his furry best friend.

So, after months of grieving over his dearly departed soulmate, Charlie reluctantly agrees to foster a new puppy - a cute Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Brownie from the local animal shelter.  Soon after, Charlie is surprised to find himself falling head over heels with this new puppy girl, his "Rebound Dog' as he calls her - as well as being romantically attracted to Janelle Jordan, the head hound at the dog rescue.

But then complications arise when the ghost of his old dog, Pete, mysteriously reappears one night and comes back to haunt him and the new puppy - setting off a bizarre chain of events that throw Charlie's life, career, and entire belief system into chaos!
It's Just A Dog is a story about loss, love and new beginnings, told in a humorous, informal style.  I immediately felt as though I was reading about a friend.  I'm very cautious about dog books.  I'm always afraid something terrible will happen to the dog.  Indeed, this story really begins with the death of Charlies' beloved dog, Pete.  However, I was hooked when Charlie explained:
Losing Pete felt like losing a child - although that's not really fair since I've never even had a kid, let alone lost one.  In any event, all I can do is share with you the depth of my own personal painful experience, so please bear with me.  Besides, loss is a contest that nobody wants to win.
However, lest you think this book is a serious downer, hilarity does ensue!  As Charlie deals - or rather doesn't deal well - with his grief, he travels the bittersweet road of loving another dog, has numerous encounters with the ghost of his dead dog, and becomes (more than just friends) with one of the local crazy dog ladies.  All along the way, the author skillfully harmonizes humor with pathos.

Check out the It's Just A Dog book trailer:

The day this book arrived, I began reading and simply devoured it.  If you're looking for a great dog story is full of fun doggie hijinks and written by an authentic dog lover, then pick up a copy of It's Just A Dog by Russ Ryan.  You'll be glad you did!

Plus, here's another barking good reason to buy this book:  50% of the sales of It's Just A Dog during the 3-month summer launch (through September 2, 2013) will be donated to Muttville Senior Dog Rescue.

It's Just a Dog is available for purchase on Amazon $2.99 Kindle, $9.99 paperback and on Amazon UK.

Russ Ryan, in addition to being a dog lover and self-described dog widower, has written and developed screenplays with Hollywood producers of American Pie, Final Destination, and Fireflies in the Garden.  He was also a writer on National Lampoon's Repli-kate.  He is also the creator of Meansheets, a vintage movie poster blog that focuses on the greatest artists and illustrators from the 1940's to the 1980's.   It's Just A Dog is his first novel. 

Enter to win your very own paperback copy of It's Just A Dog!  
Several options are available in the giveaway Rafflecopter below.  
One (1) lucky winner! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* I received a proof copy of It's Just A Dog from the author in exchange for my honest review and no other compensation.

We're participating in the Monday Mischief Pet Blog Hop today because with a title like this book has, there's bound to be some mischief.  Thank you to Monday Mischief Pet Blog Hop sponsors: Snoopys DogBlog, My Brown Newfies, and Alfies BlogWe're also participating in the Freebie Friday hop, sponsored by The Dog Tipper, All Things Dog Blog, and Doggies and Stuff


  1. If Kasey returned as a ghost...well that would absolutely scare me and challenge my belief systems. Kasey was my heart dog though. He would settle at my feet, cock his head, and watch Toby's antics in wonderment. I think in no time he'd be Toby's best friend and role model.

  2. Now all I have to do is buy the book and jump it to the top of my book pile!

  3. Thanks for the review - always looking for good summer reading material!

  4. Don't want to think about it but if she will ... definitely a friendly happy ghost that I don't see but my current dog will. I agree with Amy as it will scare me too. Would LOVE to win a copy of this book. Golden Woofs, Sugar's mom

  5. What a great quote where he says that the love never dies! So true! :)

    Wags to all,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

  6. Dakota IS my first dog (unless you count the one we had when I was a little girl) so I can't answer that question :(

  7. Sounds like a great book, I like the youtube book video idea. Heard about doing that at Blogpaws, innovative marketing.

  8. I just got the book this weekend, and was hooked by page 3! Awesome book, you're right, the author really gets it!

  9. Sounds like I will have to get this book. Thanks for the review.

  10. I only have one dog and she is my first dog. So I haven't lost a dog and I don't plan on losing Coco for a long long time!! But if I ever lose her I would be happy to see her ghost so I can see her again!

  11. Freaked out! I'll see her in another life, brutha (LOST).

  12. If my dog came back as a ghost I hope I'd see her as the healthy and young her ghost : ) And I'd be so happy to see her again! When my 20 yr old dog, Penny, passed I actually had dreams that she came back as a ghost and I had a chance to say to her what I feel I didn't get to! Penny always wanted to be the only dog but tolerated our other dogs so I don't think she'd be happy to see we even have a few more, number wise, than when she was with us : ) I'd love to read this book! It sounds like I'd really enjoy it!

  13. Since Bentley is still young, active, and alive it's a sad thought to think about, but it would be interesting

  14. This sounds like my kinda book! thanks for brining it to my attention!

    If Abby came back as a ghost, I'd love it. I miss that girl so much, and she was totally cheated in the longevity department, so I'd love to have more time with her. She was SO mischievous, I can totally see her as one of those trickster type ghosts. But she would freak Rita out, I bet!

    If Bailey came back (our first dog) she would be like, "hey! How come Rita gets to eat wet food, when all I ever got was kibble?!!"

  15. This sounds like an interesting tail... I mean tale. I think all of us have dealt with lose our own way. I would love to get the opportunity to read Russ Ryan's masterpiece.

  16. I would love it if my babies that have gone to the Bridge came back as ghosts! I think they would love my dogs now. :)

  17. Sissy is my first dog ever. I wouldn't have a dog that could come back.

  18. I sometimes think that my Angel Bobo is around me. He died over 3 years ago and it ripped my heart out. I think he would like the dogs that we have now. Two of them were here on Earth with him before he passed.

  19. It would seriously depend on which of my dogs came back. ;-) i think it would make me sad that they felt they couldn't continue on their journey and felt they needed to take care of me.

    Now I'm weepy! LOL

  20. I just finished reading this book and will be reviewing it in July...I agree with you...It's a good read

  21. My two dogs are my first dogs... but if they came back as ghosts, I imagine they'd be pretty much the same as they are now. Cheyenne would want to police and maintain order, while Shiloh would be a big goofball and probably relish in being able to cause all sorts of trouble without being seen =)

  22. I think I would rather not have my dogs come back as ghost and it would bother me. I just want them to have the best in life while they live with me and then have a peaceful rest. But in case they can come back as ghost - I'll forward them to you - because they are over energized Jack Looking forward to winning and reading your book. thank you BL


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