Bookworm: 'The Dog Lived' is tearfully funny

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Your dog gets the best of care. Before you give him toys, you make sure the squeaker isn’t a choking danger. You read the labels on his food, and you’re equally cautious about his treats. He is walked on a schedule, bathed and pampered, spoiled and loved to pieces.

Teresa J. Rhyne’s new book, The Dog Lived (and So Will I), is about a slam to the psyche that nobody should have to endure: In the space of six months, Rhyne lost her marriage, her home and both her elderly dogs.

She knew it was all coming, but it was painful nonetheless, and because of that, she wasn’t looking for another dog, or another man.

Both landed in her heart anyhow.

Chris was afraid of dogs. Seamus won him over with beagle charm.

Life would’ve been smooth from there on, except that it doesn’t work that way.

Chris’s family started putting pressure on him to break up with Rhyne because of their age difference. He was 29. She was in her 40s, which wasn’t what they wanted for their Ivy League-educated son, even though Rhyne was a lawyer. Harsh words were exchanged, and Chris severed ties with his family.

Then Seamus’ groomer found a suspicious mark on the dog’s behind. Rhyne whisked him to the vet, where Seamus was diagnosed with cancer.

Treatment wasn’t cheap, but Rhyne decided that she’d do anything to keep her dog alive. She fretted during Seamus’ surgery.

She followed computer-generated charts for his medicines. Just when it looked as thoughthe cancer watch was over, she received another shock.

She noticed it in the shower: a thickness that wasn’t there four months before, beside her right breast. Her diagnosis was cancer, too.

Anyone who has had chemotherapy knows it is a challenge. Chemo can sap your energy and zap your appearance. In The Dog Lived (and So Will I) it can also tap into your funny bone.

Rhyne had plenty of reason to whine throughout her cancer months; in fact, considering what she endured, readers could be forgiven for wondering how much one woman can handle. The good news is, Rhyne bears it with a grin that’s infectious.

Her book is filled with have-to-laugh-or-you’d-cry moments and is refreshingly lacking in poor-me. That makes it readable, enjoyable and surprisingly supportive to cancer patients, both two-legged and four-legged.

Though there are parts of this book that might make the newly diagnosed squirm, I think breast cancer survivors will surely appreciate the humor and strength found in this story.

If you’ve beaten the Big C, then The Dog Lived (and So Will I) is definitely a book you’ll care to read.


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