Dale Ryan’s Sleeping With the Beast: A Review

Lea Jaratz

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Most non-fiction books about pets are penned by professionals, dog trainers, behaviorists, vets, rescue workers. Author Dale Ryan is an artist and dog mom reaching out to other pet parents, sharing the benefits of her multi-dog experience in her new book, Sleeping With the Beast. Ryan offers tidbits of advice on practical concerns, everything from selecting the best decor for a pet household to how to garden using dog friendly plants.

Ryan’s family includes several dogs, though it seems the Shar-Pei’s (Clementine, Buddha and Rupert) are the stars in this photo-heavy text. The coffee-table style text depicts their lives on Breeze Hill Farm, a “Canine Castle” in Connecticut. Chapter by chapter she shares anecdotes of the day-to-day in a historic farm house. While the property is extraordinary in and of itself, Ryan demonstrates the ways that her pack makes a house a home.

Complete with stories, recipes and checklists for all stages of a dog’s life, it’s a well-rounded, yet summarial, look at how to care for and co-exist with dogs. Chapters like “cooking for canines” and “allowing animals to be beastly” demonstrate that Buddha and his buddies are encouraged to be dogs, with all of the innate behaviors and appetites that being a dog entails. Readers will get the sense that tips (like keeping a bowl of cold water on hand in the kitchen in case a squabble breaks out) come from personal experience. The tone is polite and helpful, in a “this is what worked for me” sort of way.

While her advice on decor or farm living is primarily pet-centric, Ryan’s tips occasionally stray from the dog advice altogether, with suggestions on things like selecting a bathroom wallcovering, with no pet-related basis for the mention. A few of these one-off facts would be better served in a book dedicated to historic home renovations, of which she would be equally qualified to write.

It’s hard to say which “dog person” this book is for. It’s got plenty of suggestions for prospective dog owners (breed selection, for example). But even a savvy dog owner will come across an, “I never thought of that” idea. What is for sure: if you’re the sort of person who daydreams about sharing a fantastic farm house with your four-legged family, Ryan’s Pinterest-worthy photos and stories are endearing.

Sleeping With The Beast: $23 at Amazon. Published by Breeze Hill Books

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