Starter Dog

My Path to Joy, Belonging and Loving This World

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Buy on Amazon Buy on Buy on
*This page contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 18 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 04 Apr 2023

Talking about this book? Use #StarterDog #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


An irresistible tale of reluctant dog ownership full of heart, humor, and wisdom

Rona Maynard wants to love her life again. Stuck in the what-next doldrums after quitting a big job, she needs a new bridge to the world. So, well into their married life, she lets her husband talk her into their first dog, a rescue mutt named Casey. Rona frets about shedding, lost travel opportunities, and arguments about walking duty. She doubts she can love a dog. But when Casey romps through her door, Rona falls hard. Over time he gives her what no human could — a new way of seeing and a pathway to the heart of a moment. Her downtown neighborhood reveals its true face as she explores it with Casey, making new friends and discovering hidden beauty spots. She learns to have adventures on her own stomping ground. Through Casey, Rona falls in love with the world and her place in it, an animal among other animals.

An irresistible tale of reluctant dog ownership full of heart, humor, and wisdom

Rona Maynard wants to love her life again. Stuck in the what-next doldrums after quitting a big job, she needs a new...

Available Editions

ISBN 9781770417236

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Send to Kindle (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 23 members

Featured Reviews

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 💙

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: