Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways: A Primer on Unintended Consequences

By Jane Hanser

Dogs Don't Look Both WaysBook Blurb

Joey, the chocolate Labrador, loves to run and run. Living in the neighborhood of the Boston Marathon, he runs as many as twelve miles a day, early in the morning, with his dad. But after they return home from a run, Joey still wants more, much more. Keenly observant, he allows no opportunity to explore the world pass him by. But will his insatiable sense of discovery lead him to gratification? Or to danger? Planning his moves long before, a decision Joey makes early one morning forever changes his life and the lives of his mom and dad, his running partner.

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways is a true story with a unique voice and a lot of adventure.
Readers love Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways for its colorful and heartfelt story-telling, but book’s main story – about discovery and freedom, rules and boundaries, communication and caring for a dog, and, of course, our dependence on the kindness of others – is a message about life itself.

My Review

Joey is a loveable dog who cannot stay out of trouble. He loves to run with his dad, and gets bored when he is home by himself or with his mom. His morning run just isn’t enough exercise for a Labrador retriever. He is always using his senses to find ways out of the backyard fence to explore the world beyond.  This always gets him in trouble with his “mom” who usually gets a call from a friend or neighbor who saw him out wandering.  One day after Joey “escaped” from his backyard; a car accident nearly kills him. The road back to healing and health is a long and arduous climb for both Joey and his family.

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways is a well written, character driven story with numerous escapades by Joey. Writing from Joey’s point of view must have been a difficult task for the author. Though it can be an enjoyable read for an adult, I believe it would be better suited to a child who is old enough to read chapter books. I tired of reading the dog’s words and thoughts.

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways is based on a true story.

About the AuthorJane Hanser

Jane Hanser has developed software to teach writing, self-published a grammar book and taught English as a Second Language at several campuses of the City University of New York. She has an M.Ed. in English Education and ESL from the Graduate School of Temple University. In her other life, she is dedicated to many and varied community activities. Her poetry, essays and movie reviews have been published in numerous print and online journals and newspapers such as Poetica MagazineThe Persimmon TreeEvery Writer’s ResourceThe Jewish Journal, and others. She spends way too much time on the computer. She is married and lives, works and plays in Newton, MA. Joey’s descriptions of her in Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways are, except for a few insignificant details of time and place, true and accurate.

To find out more about Joey

Sample Chapter – Chapter One

That’s Not Me

In some families, little dogs sit on people’s laps all day. I’ve tried sitting on my Dad’s lap but he keeps saying, “Ouch! Joey, you think you’re a little dog but you’re not. Get down.”

There are also dogs who live in the coldest places on Earth and who run in teams. These dogs work hard, running long distances to help pull heavy sleds over huge fields of silvery snow to transport people and their belongings from one place to another. Well, I’m strong enough to do this type of work, but this isn’t me either. When the ground is covered with snow, Mom gets her cross-country skis, and she and I go outside and eagerly walk to The Woods nearby. We descend down one trail into a valley where it levels off and meets new trails and we stop at the base of the first uphill we encounter. She lays her skis on the snow, steps into the foot bindings, attaches one end of the lead to my collar, holds on to the other end, and instructs, “Joey, go go go!” Leading the charge up the hill, I enthusiastically and easily pull her up the snow-covered trail as the lead stretches behind me to its full length. Soon we are almost at the top of the hill. But then I notice some dogs in the distance and those dogs are now much more interesting to me than pulling Mom up the hill is, so I seek the most direct path to the dogs, weaving through the bushes and saplings that impede Mom’s person and entangle her in a web of tree trunks and branches.

One snowy day when Mom was gliding along on her skis and I was pulling her around our block, I saw Mary, our mail carrier, going from house to house; with Mom in tow, off I galloped toward Mary to get some of the pocketful of tasty dog biscuits she carries with her in her pockets. What happened to Mom? I don’t recall. The last I heard her, she was calling, “Joey, stop. STOP!” and the last I saw her, she was heading right for the hedges. So this type of working dog would not be me.

In other families, people take their dogs out into the fields and then locate ducks, pheasants or rabbits or other small animals for food for the family members. These dogs have very good noses, and after these people have shot the ducks or other small animals, the dogs work hard to help their owners by running out into the fields or swimming out into the ponds to track, locate and retrieve the downed animal. This also would not be me. I view these animals as my friends. Besides, I like my parents to set out breakfast in the morning and dinner in the evening for me. And foods like oranges, chicken, rice, cashew nuts, popcorn, and broccoli are also welcome in between.

Some dogs live in families where they help guide a family member who cannot use his eyes to see. These dogs work hard to assist their partners and masters with walking down sidewalks, crossing streets, going up and down escalators, going shopping, going to work, and coming back home again. This also would not be me. Dogs who do this important type of work sometimes wear a nice jacket that says, “Do not talk to me. I am working.” Wherever I go, I like to wag my tail and personally greet everybody I see. When my parents and I are outside walking along the sidewalk, I look ahead and see where I want to go, or with my nose to the ground or pointed into the wind I smell where I want to go, and step down from the curb into the street toward that destination. Sometimes I step off the curb at a spot where another road is crossing. That’s when I hear Dad sharply call out, “Joey, stop. Sit. Cars are passing here. Do you want to get hit? Sit until I say it’s okay to cross.” So I stop and force my body to form the “sit” posture, though my bottom doesn’t like to cooperate, hovering and vibrating slightly above the pavement, waiting for some sign that Dad really means what he says. In this position I remain suspended and I plant my gaze firmly on Dad’s face, until he looks back at me and repeats even more emphatically this time, “SIT,” and my bottom finally and reluctantly cooperates. This I do only because he tells me to.

My parents have a lot of rules for me. They have rules for whether I can jump up on the sofa or not. They have rules for whether I am permitted on their bed or not. They have rules for whether I am allowed to beseech them for food when they are eating, other rules for when they are preparing food, and even more rules for what foods I am allowed to eat, and not eat. They have a rule for where I must sit and wait when people enter our home, and one for who walks through the door first (and last) when we are leaving and entering our home. They have a rule for who goes first when we’re going up and down stairs. They have many rules for how I must behave when we go outside. Whether I am allowed past the gate that separates our yard from the world beyond is one such rule. Where I walk, how I walk, how quickly I walk and trot and run when we are outside are others.

When my parents ask me to do something, or expect me to do something, I hear anything from a pleasant sing-song “Good boy, Joey” to an emphatic “Joey, come on! Come on! Come on!” to an irritated “Joey, NO! What did I tell you?” – which is something I hear a lot.

To be honest with you, I don’t always obey the rules, but I’ve learned to put up with many of them, more or less, because with them comes the opportunity to be part of a family where, after dinner, Dad puts on his heavy winter coat, Mom puts on hers, Dad says, “Joey, you don’t need a coat. You already have two coats” and then gets my lead, attaches it to my collar, opens the front door and then out we three go, into my promised land, into a cold dark snowy night. All around us the snow is falling so gently and quietly, each dainty flake seems suspended in the air, dancing a silent and unpredictable dance, until it evaporates or reaches the now carpeted ground and lays gently on top of other fallen flakes, or upon my coat, where it nestles, unconcerned.

Dad says that when I was a puppy, I used to try to catch the snowflakes in my mouth. Now, he, Mom, and I are the only ones outside and together off we head in one direction, walking in the middle of the white road. We follow it to where it bends, head up one long small hill as it twists and turns, then up another longer and steeper hill as it twists and turns, and then yet another, where we are so elevated that we can see the tops of trees and the tops of homes all around us in all directions. We cease moving and wonder. I can also pull on the lead and let Dad know where I want to go next, and we walk on, deeper and deeper into the ever expanding world of evening and time and sky and snowfall, closer and closer to the top of the world. I can smell the trails of the bunnies in the snow and though I’d love to follow those trails, I don’t. On such nights, I have everything a dog could ever want.

Published: April 2014

Genre: Reality-based Fiction, Non-fiction – Animals, Memoir, Nature and Pets, Fiction

Age Group: All adults, children 5th grade and up

Cover photo: Mark Thompson of Gatehouse Media

Available: Paperback (162 pages), all e-book forms: .epub, .mobi

Published by Ivy Books (an imprint of the author’s educational software company)

Indie Book

April 8, 2015 – Honored with the prestigious B.R.A.G. Medallion for Literary Fiction

To Purchase the Book

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Barnes and Noble

Ivy Books

The author gave me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

53 thoughts on “Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways: A Primer on Unintended Consequences

  1. Sounds amazing. I have this book but for some reason I wasn’t able to review it for the author. But now that I’ve read your review, I think I’ll try my best to read it ASAP. Thanks for the amazing review, Michelle!
    Have a great day!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. How interesting, a main character who is a dog, I’ve only ever briefly come across that as a plot point in The Stand very briefly. I think that mechanism will pull in a lot of different readers as it does feel like a novelty and that will make for an interesting read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ste, thanks for reading Michelle’s review and for commenting. I’d like it to pull a lot of different readers in – including people who don’t have a thing for dogs, because major themes deal with other issues that are part of human relationships and more. To name a few: expectations, curiosity, communication, adaptation, and I could go on and on.

      I hope you find it an interesting read!

      By the way, what book “The Stand” are you referring to?? Not the Stephen King novel by the same name…

      People who haven’t (yet) read “Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways” often think, “OH! The Art of Racing in the Rain,” which also had a dog as the main character but that this is NOT. The characteristics of that canine that fueled the plot line were more fictional and fantasy than reality. In this book, reality is central, and the character-driven story of the Labrador Retriever along with a few humans, has enough punch and surprises to power the story and the message(s). In this regard, if I may humbly agree that it is a novelty. ( Michelle is certainly welcome to chime in here.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There was indeed a dog in The Stand and he had a bit of internal monologue which was nice to mix it up from all those weird human thoughts.

        I haven’t come across The Art of Racing in the Rain yet but sometimes one suspects their are just too many books out there, your book is on my list now though and with that jingling in my ear it can only mean one festive excuse for a treat.


        1. Ste J, Ah!! Okay! Leave it to Stephen King! I’ll have to check that one out! He’s a famously character-driven writer!

          Enjoy your treat! It’s quite low-cal!


      1. I suspect I will when life calms down, between blogging, planning a novel, editing some books, full time night work and sleeping, reading is becoming increasingly difficult sadly perhaps early next year things will settle down enough.


        1. Ste J., I can relate. I should probably write a book entitled, “When Life Calms Down!” Don’t worry.. We’re not ganging up on you!! When you have some moments when it’s a bit much, however, and you just want or need some calm, something to take your mind off all “that,” and a smile or two, Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways is a good, relatively quick book to have ready and to pick up!

          Liked by 2 people

    1. Damyanti, Michelle’s review is timely in that regard! I will fully embrace this!

      I would like to piggyback on her “Thanks” for stopping by her blog (and blog post).

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a timely book. There seems to be a surge of literature in which the protagonist is an animal. The 2015 Giller Prize (The most prestigious literary prize in Canada) was recently awarded to Andre Alexis for his book Fifteen Dogs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. An interesting timely!
      And thank you, Carol, for bringing the Alexis book to my attention. (My thought too, Michelle!) It seems a book I’d enjoy, the questions and relationships he explores – human and canine.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Michelle,
    You wrote “The road back. . . is a long and arduous climb for both Joey and his family.” A metaphor so perfectly in keeping in the setting of the book and the attributes of its main characters! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds entertaining. I’m guessing it might appeal to dog lovers. Reading the excerpt leads me to support your suggestion that the book may appeal to children. They may also prefer the POV. Although I’m not a dog person I think the book could give me more a “feel” for the dog experience. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Norah, Thanks for your positive thoughts on the book. Our public HS Library Director recommends 5th grade + but I’ve met and spoken to children in 4th grade who’ve really liked the book.

      I’ve had more than one adult comment on how adults don’t like rules, either and, in their own way, get around many of them, or try to, at least!! There are many themes in the book that are age-independent!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Based on who I personally ask, there tend to be differences. Children will tend to focus more on what the dog did, this part or that part, adults will focus on something more nuanced, how something was described, how they “felt” this or that. I had one young adult say to me when he was at a certain point in the book, “Oh, foreshadowing!” (I could see his teachers hard at work!) If you’re reading the book, or your kids are (or will be), feel free to “data” to the question! I think it’s an interesting question how the various age groups perceive and relate to the same book and I really love it.

          Liked by 2 people

            1. Norah, Gratifying is the word! (And educational for me. Although some writers say that reader response is not important to them, that they just need to express themselves in the writing process, to me the communicatoin is everything. If I’m not getting across to readers…)

              Liked by 1 person

        2. Norah, See how skinny our thread got? So skinny there was no new “Reply” button! So I’m hopping up a few layers. Yes, all writers do at least sometimes write just for themselves and self-expression. But I definitely had a goal of reaching people with this book, and on a deep level. So it’s gratifying in that sense.

          BTW to answer your earlier question in the thread, there’s a large sensory part of the writing since that is a large part of how the narrator, being a dog, experiences living, and adults tend to articulate that, not so much the younger readers. Perhaps for younger readers it just becomes part of the overall experience to get them into the story. You’ve asked a really important question. And it’s questions that open doors. (That’s certainly where Joey’s book all began…)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you for that wonderful answer, Jane. It’s interesting to discover the different ways in which people respond to your book. It seems that you have had success with your goal of reaching people. Congratulations. I wish you even further success. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Tess, Ha!! “Wonderful” is not a word I’ve ever thought to use with Joey to describe his personality! I can think of some others….. 🙂 I wonder what one word you’ll use to describe his personality after you read the book. Please do tell!

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Teresa, They absolutely do! It’s really remarkable to get to know each dog, one by one. Klutz dogs? That too! We even know a chocolate Labrador Retriever – a sporting dog, right?? – who is a klutz. (She spent a few days with us and I took her running along with Joey and she did pretty darn well! Trying to impress the young dude male, possibly?)

          BTW, I have had several cats over the years, as a matter of fact!

          Liked by 2 people

      1. Michelle, whatever gave you that idea??? 🙂 I’m always up to hearing somebody has enjoyed reading the book and is spreading the (good) word.


  6. Thank you, Michelle.

    Interestingly, I’m publishing my book imminently in hardback, with additional photos (now all in color), for Young Adults!
    The book was always intended for young adults as well, but marketing makes you choose one over the other. In fact, as I’ve learned, the young adult books have a completely different opening pages format, which is what is followed in the new hardback version. I’ll send over an email when it’s ready, hopefully not more than few weeks from now.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Michelle, the book was written for both age groups: as you know from the book, it was a child’s questions that made me rethink much of what I had assumed about dogs. But face it: adults are the ones primarily responsible for their pets – from the outlay of money to the decisions small and large that must be made regarding the care of their pets – so it was written for them as well. I wouldn’t discount the enjoyment that many adult readers have had reading the book. The hardback is designed to appeal to the young adults (5th grade +) and, specifically, the needs of libraries.

        Liked by 2 people

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