received a review copy of Sleeping With the Beast, by Dale Ryan. It’s
not your everyday dog-book. To quote the dust jacket notes, “In
Sleeping With the Beast, Dale Ryan invites us into her home for a
close-up view of what it’s like to live with dogs – from cooking to
decorating to gardening to literally sleeping with the beast. Sleeping
With the Beast is a rather intimate book about dogs and their human
partners.” One might say that it is a rather intimate book about Dale
Ryan’s family, human and dogs, rather than a guidebook for most of us.
are many things to admire about this book. It is sumptuously produced (especially for a self-published book),
fit to grace any coffee-table in the land. The author’s background in
art and design serves her well. The photographs of her
home and dogs are a delight to peruse. It is no mean thing to love your
dogs and home so much that you are moved to celebrate them in the
production of such a book.
I really must say that this is the
essence of the book: an illustrated celebration of the author’s life
with her dogs. If you love reading Architectural Digest (but wish it
had more dogs), you will love this book. The author’s home is indeed
beautiful, as are her dogs.
If you are looking for practical
advice about living with dogs, this may not be the place to find it. In
an effort to add content of general interest, the book is salted with
advice that ranges from the ludicrously obvious to the questionable, to
the patently incorrect.
We are advised that if cabinets are
painted white, as opposed to a darker color, they will require more
frequent cleaning. I think we can all agree on that.
to be cooked for the dogs are not
likely to be suitable for long-term nutritional balance, but would
certainly be fine for a treat. The author’s preference for including
the dogs’ presence during intimate bedroom moments may not work for
The author suggests, “Instead of one-word commands, try
saying, ‘please sit’, as opposed to ‘sit’. This sounds more civilized,
yet you are still giving a command.” While it may sound more civilized,
it is confusing to the dog, as every command starts with the same
sound. Dogs can learn many words, and complex tasks, but obedience
trainers emphasize making things easy for the dog to succeed. One-word
commands are the norm.
On balance, much of the advice in the book
is a reflection of the author’s personal preferences, rather than
practical help for most dog-owners. It is, however, a beautiful book
about beautiful dogs in a beautiful home.