Cover Image: Starter Dog

Starter Dog

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.  **Disclaimer...I am a crazy dog loving lady and I do not deny it*** That being said I can still read books about dogs and our relationships with them and remain objective. This book touched my heart and soul from the very start.  Rona was looking for something new in her life....she wasnt thinking of getting a dog but when her husband brings it up...they decide to get themselves a dog and I was here for it from the first page. Starter Dog is a perfect for dog people or people who don't even understand dog people and who are interested in why we are so devoted to them. Rona recounts her experience, at age 65, with getting a rescue dog of unknown breeding. Whilst Rona is hesitant at getting a dog at first she reluctantly goes along and soon finds herself in the best unconditional love relationship we can only ever receive from dogs. Casey (their dog) is the adorable and whilst like us he has his flaws Rona soon finds herself loving every moment with him to be a joy and that their unconditional love for each other continues to blossom.
With Casey by her side, Rona finds herself accepted into the world of dog lovers she learns more about her neighborhood and her neighbors, as living without a fenced yard means multiple long walks a day. Through Casey she connects with more people than she ever expected was possible through their mutual love of dogs. A thoroughly enjoyable, heartwarming and thought provoking read it left me smiling at my furbabies. #ronamaynard #starterdog #netgalley #tea_sipping_bookworm #goodreads #getlitsy #thestorygraph #bookqueen #bookstagram #doglove
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I love Rona Maynard’s literary yet relatable writing style, and from the very brief Author’s Note at the beginning, I knew I would love this book. This memoir in essays beautifully portrays how adopting a mutt named Casey changed Rona’s life. She shares plenty of funny stories about Casey, but the heart of the story is this middle-aged woman’s emotional coming of age. Loving this dog cracks her open, and she becomes a kinder, more socially engaged person because of it. I love how she describes her marriage, her blossoming relationship with this dog that she wasn’t sure she could love, and her relationships with other people and dogs she meets through walks with Casey.

Prepare to laugh, cry, and feel your heart grow three sizes. Highly recommended.

I was provided an unproofed ARC through NetGalley that I volunteered to review.
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Rona & her husband had been married for many years, when he decides they should get a dog. Although retired Rona still yearned for a project- little realising that she would find that purpose in a dog. The search for the perfect fit for them took a while but they ended up with a lovable mutt they called Casey. In walking him Rona discovered a whole new world she never knew existed that enriched her life in ways she couldn't have imagined.

I love Casey, I could have happily brought him home. I'm not so sure about Rona. I did find her 'navel gazing' a bit OCD but she loved her dog & what more can you ask for!?

Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for letting me read & review this book.
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Every one who shares their home with a dog will recognize themselves at some point in this book.  In 30+ years, my husband and I have shared our lives with 6 dogs.  We would not recognize ourselves without a "fur baby".

When Rona and her husband adopt a rescue dog, they assume he will adjust to their lives.  They set clear rules and guidelines before bringing him home.  One problem, Casey challenged the rules and changed their lives in ways they could never have predicted.  He would open their eyes and expand the boundaries of their comfortable, but boring lives.  This book is both heartwarming and entertaining.  Read it, then pass it along to someone else who needs a smile today.
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Canadian author, Rona Maynard, didn't want a dog. She and her husband Paul had been married for a lot of years, and now in their sixties, were settled into their "senior" years. But Paul said "let's get a dog". For two years they searched for "the one", through the various rescue places, until they finally bit the bullet and brought a dog they named "Casey", home. One of the "rules" she and her husband agreed to was each walking Casey an hour a day. And that was when their fun started. Casey had his own ideas about the walks he went on with Rona and Paul and finally, they both agreed they needed help.

Casey changed Rona and Paul's lives, as those who have, and have had dogs, know. Dogs can be challenging, but they'll always give love to their owners. And as Casey directed their lives to fit his (it's what they do!) Rona knew she'd fallen deeply for this outstanding, mischievous and loving dog. It was the best thing Rona and Paul had done in recent years.

Starter Dog by Rona Maynard is a memoir, which was recommended to me by one of my GR friends, and as a dog lover, and previous dog owner, I thought I couldn't go wrong. Casey is an irresistible mutt with loads of love to give, while Rona and Paul were ready for a dog to love (even though Rona didn't believe it) Recommended.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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Rona and Paul were in their 60s and had recently retired ... Rona had had a demanding job as the editor-in-chief of Chatelaine magazine (from 1994 to 2004). As a recent retiree, I can relate to figuring out what retirement life is. Paul suggested they get a dog and Rona wasn't crazy about the idea ... he had happy memories of having dogs while Rona's memory of her childhood dog wasn't a good one. It took them two years to finally get a dog as things kept getting into the way. They adopted a rescue dog they named Casey, who they were told had been in a shelter, had been trained in a prison program and then landed back in the shelter on death row before making his way to Toronto. 

I like reading stories about dogs (and animals) and that's why this book caught my eye. This is Paul, Rona and Casey's story, with a focus on Rona and Casey's relationship. The love Rona has for Casey and with him in their lives is obvious. It was interesting to read how Rona's feelings and views changed over time. In the beginning, she didn't really want a dog but by the end of the book, Casey was helping her see every day people and her 'hood in a different way. 

It's obvious that editing is Rona's background and she is well-educated. I found the writing style at times a bit over my head as I had to stop and look up some of the words and terms she was using.
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This is such a lovely read for all dog owners. At the age of 65, Rona Maynard gets her first dog and despite her misgivings, falls in love with the little brown dog called Casey. A perfect book, filled with humour, love and tales of adventure with a dog. Thanks to Net Galley for my ARC.
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Combo review for ebook and audio (8 hrs.   Narrated by author)

Rona Maynard doesn't know it, but we're kindred souls. Kindred dog people. Kindred souls who found their best selves "after dog". Unlike Maynard, true, I grew up around dogs. Heck, I grew up on a farm. There were always dogs, not to mention cats, sheep, calves, and assorted ducks and rabbits. Due to the circumstances of life, however, aside from my horses, the dogs were always the family dogs. Never dependent or particularly attached to me. That changed after my parents' deaths, when a teacher friend convinced me I needed a dog. I got one. A husky/collie mix. That dog ultimately lead me to Alaska. Long story. I'm currently owned by a diva dog corgi mix, the Daisy of my book review blog. through her I've become part of my neighborhood, enjoying the not always quiet walks in Alaska, and admitting that my life isn't my own. It's better, fuller, just as Maynard has learned.

I won't detail this story of finding one's life through a dog's unconditional love and zest for living. Dog owners, oh, who am I kidding, people owned by a dog (or any pet, for that matter) know what I mean. Maynard, like me, found many reasons to resist a dog. One of my roll my eyes as I chuckle moments was when she admits that even when finally giving in to her husband's desire for a rescue dog was to declare, basically, okay, but it can't get on the bed. Bet you know how that turned out. I've also got to admit, that I much appreciated her letting readers know the "dog doesn't die" in this book, something that tends to make me wary of any specific dog focused books. Thanks, Rona. Casey has taught you well. 

I was lucky enough to get both the audio and ebook to review. Read by Maynard, the audio book had me smiling from the beginning. While I flipped back and forth from audio to ebook, there is something about hearing a personal story of growth from that person. After thought, I decided that dog person that I am, I would have been just as sucked in by the written words as the audio had I only had it to go on, so I highly recommend both/either. 

Just as anyone who has ever walked a dog quickly learns that they won't be hurried to "do their business", the story pace is leisurely. Maynard spends some time revealing her pre-dog self, which was when I began to see much of myself in her, and then allows us to see how one not-so-well-behaved dog changed her for the better. 

Thank you #NetGalley and #ECWPressAudio -#ECWPress for introducing me to #RonaMaynard and her very good dog. My Daisy sends a slurpy kiss and gives this a four paws and a tail wag rating.
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Rona Maynard’s lovely book about adopting a dog later in life is a love letter to her dog Casey as much as it is a memoir describing the ways that he has changed and enriched her life.

Rona was initially reluctant to adopt a dog, especially a rescue dog but agreed when she saw how much her husband Paul wanted one. Paul had grown up with a much adored family dog when he was a child but Rona’s only experience of dog ownership was a poodle acquired by her father when she was already a teenager and failed to bond with the dog. Rona and Paul were both recently retired and after forty years of marriage and successful, driven careers were in what Rona describes as ‘the what-now doldrums of retirement’. 

Looking to rediscover herself and find a ‘Project’ to occupy her days, Rona was not expecting a dog to fill that void. Casey would act as a conduit to the world around her, helping her to really see and enjoy her neighbourhood, meeting local people and other dogs of course. Her daily walks with him become a joy and a time to reflect on her life and notice daily and seasonal changes. Told with humour and love this is an engaging and heartfelt book. Perfect for those who love dogs or are thinking of adopting their own starter dog. And in case you’re worried, Casey, that beautiful smiling dog on the cover, is still alive and well at the close of the book.
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Starter Dog is the memoir of the author's experience of adopting a dog later in life.  I have long been a fan of Joyce Maynard, the author's sister, and have always found her books to be relatable,  So, I was curious to read a book by her sister.  Rona is a gifted writer, as well.  I did have difficulty relating to her, however.  I had animals of all sorts while raising children, and now that they are grown, I am not interested in owning any pets.  It was difficult for me to understand the author's perspective, in that way.  She had successfully help off her husband's efforts at getting a dog for many years, and then, right before she is due to retire, she relents.  But, what a production!  Almost two years of searching!  Anyway, I did appreciate the fact that the dog seemed to change her perspective on her own life and increased her interest in the world around her.  In that way, I liked the metamorphosis she went through after she got Casey.  To me, she became a much more likeable person and the process was interesting.  This book is great for dog lovers of all ages.  They will love it.  I am interested in reading more from Ms. Maynard.
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Rona Maynard’s new memoir, Starter Dog, is not your typical book about a dog. Casey, the canine protagonist, is not the smartest mutt in the kennel. He doesn’t run, like Lassie, to tell his humans Timmy has fallen down a well.
Rona and her husband Paul are cultured, literary people. I had to look up a few things; a 19th century poet, a bestselling memoir from the 60’s (“a classic tribute to the natural world," now on my reading list). Casey, though, does not endear himself to them by earning straight A’s and a full ride to Sarah Lawrence or his own TV show, but by his admirably dogged doggyness.
While Lassie made friends with squirrels and saved them from squirrel peril, Casey wants only to chase and kill them.
Although he gets the good stuff–sardine treats, toothpaste in a flavor made for dogs, a cushy bed in every room as well as a place on the sofa– unlike many well-loved dogs today, Casey will 
not be made to endure a wardrobe of cute pajamas and bowties. 
Maynard does not think of herself as Casey’s mother.
“Casey’s mom is a bitch from Ohio.”
I have never been one to pass up a dog book. From The Call of the Wild to Old Yeller to The Art of Racing in the Rain, I’ve read and loved them all. Starter Dog is another book about a dog, but so much more.
Maynard writes of celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary during the global pandemic. “Celebrate,” she tells us, descends from the Latin “celebrare,” a marriage of gladness and gravity.
Those words are an apt description of Starter Dog. But don’t worry. In this book, the dog doesn’t die.
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Starter Dog is a memoir by Canadian author, Rona Maynard. Considering that her husband Paul has always been a dog lover, it’s unusual that they’ve managed to reach the age of sixty-three before he suggests to Rona that they get a dog. 

In their relationship, after more than 40 years of marriage: “We had a pattern: he brought me an idea, I told him why it might not work.” There are obstacles to be overcome, in this case, are: dog fur everywhere; the effect on their travel bug; and walks with a dicky knee. 

And when, objections neutralised, they do agree, it takes another two years before they find the one: a rescue dog named Tucker (and before that, Shotgun), apparently a Labrador/pug mix that has been trained in prison by a convict. Deciding on a name finally results in Casey Jones, and Casey immediately bonds with Paul; it takes longer with Rona.

Walking Casey turns out to be a whole new experience for Rona: constant stopping to check and leave peemail; eating trash; chasing cars; attacking squirrels; altercations with neighbour dogs; and poor behaviour that leads to park exile. 

Expert help is required, and a trainer teaches Paul and Rona what Casey will respond obediently to. Rona learns to shout, and Casey teaches her to sleep. Rona describes how she migrates from being a novice dog owner, to becoming a fully-furred dog-person, with its attendant Insta flooding, special attention to dog food, addiction to dog videos and Casey as the automatic conversation topic.

As a rescue dog, Casey comes without any real history, and a DNA test puts his stated breed in the realms of fantasy: Casey is a beagle-Boston Terrier-bulldog mix. Not knowing who trained Casey to be such a good dog sends Rona and Paul on a trip to Ohio, to Casey’s hometown, to find out more, and trace his journey from there to Ontario.  

Living with Casey changes their priorities on furniture preservation, and also bring harmony to their daily lives, helping to connect with strangers with dogs, despite the odd encounter with a nasty owner. Rona recalls the one dog in her childhood and why she didn’t connect then. By the time they are on vacation in Mexico City, just a short period without Casey has Rona seeking a dog-fix. 

How does Casey, the Dog Of Very Little Brain, end up with a diploma from the University of Toronto? Will he be ever-hungry for any vaguely-edible morsel? Is it just Rona’s perception that, when Paul walks Casey he attracts pretty young women, while she manages to draw poor cowboys?

Snowfall in Ontario makes walking Casey presents a fracture risk for his ageing owners, so necessitates they go south for the winter, and encounter a whole new set of neighbours during walks. Rona finds herself moved to acts of kindness when out walking Casey, and recalls instances where she could have been kinder. Having Casey even helps her understand her father a little more.

“To run a magazine, I had looked out on the world and shaped a vision of it for readers. To take Casey out on patrol, I ventured into the world and let it surprise me, time after time. I wasn’t just passing through. Not anymore.” Funny and moving, this is a very entertaining read.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and ECW Press
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I received a copy of "Starter Dog" from Netgalley for a review. Rona Maynard writes a nice book about her experience with her first dog. Her husband and she usually had cats during the 40 years of their marriage. They decided to get their first dog. He turned out to be a beagle mixed breed they named "Casey" the author describes the next ten years of their dog Casey. the firsts they ever had having their first dog. Casey taught them a lot. His squirrel chases. Friendly to all. I liked that he was trained at a prison with a prisoner for some months in his puppy hood. For the next ten years the author took Casey everywhere.
       This is a fun book to read. I enjoyed reading about the author's first experience of having a dog for a pet.
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It's hard for me to pass up a dog story! This one was different in that the author didn't ever really have a dog (aside from a family dog added as a teenager that she didn't really bond with) until she and her husband retire and he decides he really wants a dog. They have always been busy with work and have done a lot of traveling and a dog just didn't fit into their lives. Plus, she's just "not a dog person". Once she agrees, he wants a rescue, she's intent on a purebred... eventually, they find Casey who is said to be a 30-lb pug/lab mix, was trained by an inmate in Ohio, is well-behaved and was rescued from a high kill shelter by an animal rescue group in Canada. Some of this ends up being true. You'll have to read it to find out which parts. ;-)

The book follows the couple as their lives are changed in countless ways by this new ball of energy in their home. Anyone who has shared their life with a dog knows that things will never be the same. I enjoyed her stories about Casey and the various people the couple meet thanks to their charming, mid-sized mutt. Rescues and mutts are the best! Any dog lover will enjoy this book and anyone considering adding a dog to their lives will get a glimpse at what their life will be like after.

Thanks to ECW Press and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I would like to thank the author for adopting a dog, and giving us a peek into the feelings of someone who wasn't wholly on board about it. This was an enjoyable book about caring for a dog for the first time and how this dog has changed a life. I laughed a couple of times of the predicaments they found themselves in. I did, at times, thought the author judgmental. I also felt that there was too much mentioning of the results of going for a walk, if you get my drift. The second half seemed less about this wonderful, funny dog they adopted and more about the author's thoughts . I thank NetGalley and ECW Press for the advance read.
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Actually 3.5 stars. The strong points of the book were its pacing and honesty. I felt that Rona Maynard shared with me some happy and some very painful memories and introspections; the book isn’t about the dog, it’s about the relationship between Maynard and the dog. I also liked her descriptions of the Toronto neighbourhoods where she walked her dog. And of course, I liked the stories about the dog. And to note, I do not have a dog and do not consider myself a dog person. I could also relate to Maynard’s take on work and retirement. The major weakness was that I didn’t find the story compelling; I enjoyed the book just enough to keep reading until the end. Thank you to Netgalley and ECW Press for the digital review copy. .
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I adored this book, which, although it had the dog, Casey as a central character, was also the author’s ruminations  on the meaning of life, as she learns to slow down and truly see what is around her, both in the outer and inner environments that she inhabits.

Ms. Maynard and her husband are empty nesters; she has recently left a high powered job as editor of a prestigious magazine in Canada and her husband, Paul, still works. He wanted a dog; she didn’t. She observes that she never thought of herself as a dog person. Paul embarks on a campaign to adopt a dog, and it’s a long and relentless campaign. Once Ms. Maynard finally crumbles, the search for a dog begins - a search that took an entire year. Finally they learn about a five-year old dog of uncertain breed who has spent his early years working in a prison as a sort of therapy dog. They decide that this dog is THE ONE, adopt him, and name him Casey.

While Paul is head over heels for Casey instantly (and Casey head over heels for Paul), Rona has reservations. They develop a routine so that Rona walks Casey in the morning for an hour and Paul walks Jim for an hour in the evening. Soon Rona falls in love with the dog, and her love knows no bounds. At this point in the book I almost cried because I have cats and I know exactly how it feels to fall in love with a being who finds cuddling with you the most important thing in his or her life.

As Rona continues walking Casey around their neighborhood, she starts to realize that the walks are not completely about him; she has small epiphanies and I never noticed thats on almost every walk, and befriends people who, before Casey, she would have dismissed as not her kind of person. It’s wonderful to me when things like that happen - when I’m out for a walk myself and see a detail that I have to photograph, for example, not because it was a beautiful scene but because it was a small thing I noticed and in the noticing some kind of switch clicks in my brain and I realize that it was the noticing that was important. 

The book is called Starter Dog, leading one to think that other dogs might join the family, because Rona realizes he will really, given the ages of Casey’s “parents, be the only dog. I read this book in small spurts, maybe three short chapters at a time, because not only is the writing so brilliant that I wanted time to cherish it, piece by piece, but because I was afraid that Casey would die at the end, something I did not think I could bear. It’s not giving anything away to reveal that the walks continue as the book comes to an end (in the last year, I’ve had to say goodbye to two beloved pets and I didn’t want to go through that again.

This is a truly lovely book and I recommend it highly. I was fortunate to receive an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley.

Ten  💙
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I have tried several times over the last month or so to get into this book, but it just isn't happening for me. I am not interested in the characters which surprises me because I am a dog lover. I figured I would devour this book.
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Enjoyable, yet forgettable, book about an older couple getting their first dog.  Somethings I could really understand, such as the dog hair.  No matter how much I try I can never be hair free when I leave the house.  Other stuff was a little hard to relate.  I enoyed the stories about her dog more than the stories from her past
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She is really not sure they should get a dog at this time in their lives. However, her husband of beaucoup years talks her into it, and they get a rescue dog they name Casey. What follows is how Casey becomes part of and changes their lives.  In fact, neither of them can imagine what life was like before Casey. The dog turns out to be a great companion and friend for both. Everyone notices him and comments on him wherever they go. Casey is just that kind of dog. The story unfolds as Casey is integrated more and more into their lives, pointing out her strengths and abilities—and weaknesses. More than her husband, she probably wonders more about him—who he really is, his past, where he came from, etc. However, both grow to love and accept him in their own ways as time passes. This is actually a fairly interesting book. However, for me, it dragged a lot, as the author goes into long descriptions and ideas about what was happening, has happened, while wondering what will happen. I enjoyed it a lot, but, as I said, found it slow going, which made me hope and wish things would just move right along rather than slow and steadily go on and on.  This is a book, I think, a lot of readers will like. It definitely is a dog story for the dog lover in you or if that is what you want. I know that is why I chose to request it. I just had difficulty really getting into it and enjoying it. The only reason I can figure is that it dragged along slowly. In my opinion, it could have been a lot shorter and more concise, but I was not the author. Still, I recommend it to readers everywhere, especially if you love dogs and like reading about them. I received this from NetGalley to read and review.
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