Rating: 4 stars out of 5
“Sometimes the last thing you expect is exactly what you need.”
Richard Myers’ life is set. He is a well off gay urbanite looking for happiness and the perfect man one man at a time. Richard has a core group of outgoing if a bit self involved friends who like to party and a well-paying dead end job. And if he hasn’t found the right man yet, Richard is sure he is out there.
Then one night while stumbling on his way home, an inebriated Richard finds a puppy and almost immediately Richard’s life and his relationships begin to change. Richard starts to interact with his neighbor across the hall, Evelyn, who also has a dog. In just a few days the puppy, now named Hambone, wriggles his way into Richard’s life on every level.
Despite Richard’s disapproving friends and on again off again boyfriend, Richard finds a vet and then something much, much more. On Evelyn’s recommendation Richard hires a dog trainer named Abe and from the moment Richard hears Abe’s voice on the phone he feels a connection with this man.
When Abe’s comes for Hambone’s first training session, the sparks fly. Abe and Hambone together start to show Richard a different life than the one he has been living and Richard likes the change in himself and his lifestyle.
Will love conquer all in the end? It will if Hambone has any say in the matter.
Can owning (or being owned) by a dog change your life? How you answer that question will probably determine how you feel about this story. The Dog Trainer by Owen Keehen takes that questions and answers it with a resounding yes! This story really resonated with me (no small wonder here). I absolutely believe in the power of animals (whatever they may be) to change a person’s view on life. Whether that change is a small or large one depends entirely on the person involved. If they have animals or a history with animals, then the changeover is more subtle, or less ground shaking. But for that individual for whom this is a first time relationship/ownership, the changes can be startling and lasting.
Owen Keehnen certainly understands the impact that one small puppy can have on a solitary individual such as Richard. The changes in lifestyle that a puppy brings to the right person, an accepting person, enlarges your life and that is exactly what happens to Richard Myers. Upon first meeting Richard, our first impressions aren’t exactly positive ones. Richard, like the people he has chosen as friends, are living a somewhat superficial, self involved life style. Richard and his core group spend their time at bars picking apart people, events, whatever happens to grab their attention. They dress well, attend the “right” functions and move from one hot bar to another in search of entertainment and romance. Richard has niggling feelings that he might be missing out on something but soon pushes such trifling thoughts away. I love Keehnen’s descriptions of Richard and his friends. From the dialog to their clothes they are the recognizable Millennials found in cities everywhere.
But in one instant, that all changes although Richard is the last person to understand what is happening to him. Keehnen has Richard finding his puppy during a drunken walk home. Pulled into a lot by pitiful cries, Richard finds a bag of puppies, of which only one is still alive. And because Richard is, at the center, a decent human being, he takes the puppy home and changes his life in small ways at first, then much larger ones. It is a slow climb out of the lifestyle Richard has made for himself and that makes it a realistic one. The puppy attracts people he had never interacted with before, new avenues of interest, and slowly Richard opens himself up to new situations, people, and finally love. I have seen it happen, and so probably have you, if you think about it.
Another great authentic touch is that Richard is uncertain that he wants to be a dog owner, he isn’t sure he wants the changes in his routine that come with dog ownership. He has to puzzle it out for himself (ok , along with some help from his neighbor, Abe the dog trainer, and Hambone himself) but that is pretty accurate too.
I liked the slow build to a romance. This is a tale of two Richards and Richard must decide which one he will be in order to get his man and HEA. Hambone is an endearing character, just as you would expect. It is easy to see why Richard is willing to make the changes he does when faced with such unconditional love and adoration. And when Abe comes along, Richard is ready for a “less than picture perfect man” who just might be the man for him…and Hambone.
This is a sweet, endearing romance between man and puppy, and man and man. There isn’t a lot of drama or fuss but a realistic changeover for one man when a dog comes into his life. I loved that but then again I have three terriers at my side just like Hambone is for Richard. So I get it. And I believe in the power of an animal to change a person’s life. I think Owen Keehnen gets that too. I enjoyed this story and loved the cover. Owen Keehnen is a new author for me so I look forward to seeing what else he has written.
If the above descriptions appeals to you, then pick up this story and start your journey with Richard and Hambone. This gentle tale might just be the thing for you.
Great cover again by Wilde City Press.
Published May 21st 2014 by Wilde City Press