Has he chosen well and landed on his paws? Dougal the Labradoodle puppy, a complete hypochondriac and Boris Johnson’s No1 fan, arrives in Greenwich with great expectations.
He longs to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic, dine at royal banquets and become; either a superstar and party the night away or work as a doorman at the Savoy.
Behaviour classes were never on his wish list, neither were cliff-hanging experiences on the Thames, booze cruises to Calais or obsessions for eating socks.
Can he survive life with a chaotic owner and her eccentric friends? Can he deal with his jealousy when a foster puppy comes to stay? And as for his dreams, will they ever come true?
Dougal’s Diary by Sarah Stephenson was published for kindle by Crooked Cat Publishing on 14th January, and is available via Amazon in the UK and US. Ok, not my usual kind of read. Some of you might even be thinking “but Anne’s a cat person”. But as soon as I saw that this book was touring with Brook Cottage Books, I really wanted to be part of it.
You see, I too have had a love affair with a labradoodle. Oscar – part poodle, part labrador, possibly part Shetland pony – was my brother’s dog, and was one of the most loveable characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. He never quite understood that he was a little on the large side to sit on your lap or lie on your bed, sat bolt upright on every car journey so that he could assist with navigation – but his real coup was sleeping through a house robbery that had actually triggered the alarm system. My niece learned to stand and walk by hoisting herself up by his ears – and when he finally had to leave, he didn’t close his eyes until he’d said a proper goodbye to every member of his beloved family.
This book is thoroughly lovely, and I really enjoyed my time inside Dougal’s head. It’s just what it says on the cover – his diary, complete with musings and thoughts, and accounts of hopes, dreams and adventures from his unique perspective. I loved his relationship with his eccentric family, his encounters with other dogs, his reflections on wearing the collar of shame (his perceived “leg injury” really made me laugh), his many adventures and near-death experiences – and I was particularly pleased to see he took his navigation duties as seriously as Oscar did when travelling by car.
If you are owned by a dog, you’ll enjoy this one – if you’ve had the immense good fortune of knowing a labradoodle, there’ll be even more you’ll recognise. Particularly the socks (in my case, with a tear in my eye, as well as a smile on my face). Wonderfully done Sarah – I enjoyed this one.
About Sarah Stephenson
Sarah, who grew up in Bristol, now lives in South East London with two dogs, the occasional grandchild and a lot of mess. She’s had a chequered career as ballet dancer, cook, cleaning lady, salesgirl of outsize underwear in Littlewoods and actor. As an actor she worked mostly in the theatre: plays ranging from Shakespeare to improvised, both comedy and tragedy.
Cooking combines two of her passions; travel and people. She’s catered on barges in Burgundy, private houses in America, many stately homes in England, run a delicatessen, a stall in a farmer’s market and been a judge on the Great Taste Food Awards. Good opportunities for hearing about the lives of others.
Her need to write began with letters; sending home news of her adventures. At seventeen: travelling alone on the Trans-Siberian Railway and across the Sea of Japan. In Greece as a drama student, when the van blew up at the Springs of Daphne and they explored the mainland, riding on bread vans and tractors before selling their blood for a fiver and hitch-hiking home on a lorry. Or in Morocco on a solo trip, in pre-mobile phone days, when she was chucked off a bus in the desert and found herself surrounded by hundreds of camels and similar numbers of men, all in local dress.
Since then Sarah hasn’t stopped scribbling and joining the Write Place, a writing class in Dartford, encouraged her to put the contents of numerous exercise books into something more concrete.
These days Sarah chooses less adventurous holidays but might well send one of her characters off on a trek she doesn’t feel brave enough to make.
Dougal’s Diary is Sarah’s first book.