The Man Who Loves Dogs
by Lee Treanor, contemporary (2001)
Jacobyte Books, A$5.45, ISBN 1-74053-054-3

Any hope of a James Herriot-like tale of dogs and heartwarming human relationships fly out the window the moment I am subjected an opening chapter of what seems like an excerpt from the Sorrento Town Tourism Council brochure. "Here is this road, there is that motel, this shop..." Where's the dog, dude?

That's the problem of Lee Treanor's beautifully-titled The Man Who Loves Dogs. It doesn't actually seem to have any clear focus of what it wants to tell me, taking its own sweet time rambling on all kinds of tangents until late, late into the story when it finally decides to get its act together. Too late then, really.

It's supposed to be about this middle-aged guy Dan who has lost his wife and now feeling all lonely and down in the blues. He finds a stray dog and slowly, reluctantly starts to care for another living thing again. Oh, and doggie helps Daddy Danny find a new girlie too. Ain't that sweet? (How come my stupid border collie never fix me up with Joaquin Pheonix? Huh, huh, huh?)

But really, for too long the story just rambles on and on, first about the history of Sorrento, then about the vileness of rich grubby capitalist pigs who are destroying Sorrento's wholesome family values, back to more Sorrento Geography Lessons, and so forth. I am also subjected to Dan's many opinions about his life, his late wife, that new chick he has his eye on, and of course those rich capitalist pigs. All written in a cold, choppy style that could have been successfully passed off as the "rambling of a middle-aged coot" thing if the subjects of the ramblings aren't so dull.

The dog's cute though. Okay, I am biased when it comes to adorable poochies, but really, even when a chronic dog person like me can't muster any enthusiasm for this dull doggie story, I think this story needs an extra shot of color ASAP. Oh, and a focus. The author just rambles on and on on all kinds of unrelated matters that it's surreal. This is one book that should have never been published in its current first-draft incarnation.

Rating: 47

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