The Dog Lived (and So Will I)
by Teresa J. Rhyne

Sourcebooks, Inc., 2012. ISBN 978-1-402-27172-4.
Reviewed by Donna B. Russell
Posted on 02/15/2013
Review of the Month, March 2013

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Animal Companions

If you are an animal lover, if you have struggled with relationship issues, if you've ever battled self-doubt, if you've ever been diagnosed with cancer—or any chronic illness, for that matter—you will be able to identify with Teresa J. Rhyne. The Dog Lived (and So Will I) is about love and loss, dogs, cancer, relationships, and new beginnings. But most of all, it's about self-discovery and learning to believe in yourself and fight for what you want and need.

After her second divorce, Teresa decided to live what she dubbed "an alphabet life": A-alcohol (wine, martinis, and margaritas); B-books; C-coffee; and D-dogs. But just a few months after moving into a new home, both of her beloved dogs died within four months of each other.

"I never wanted to be without my dogs," she writes. "Dogs were the only consistent relationship in my life, and now they were gone, too...I'd learned the great cosmic curse that all dog lovers learn eventually—you may have the unconditional love, devotion, and near-perfect companionship of a dog, but only for twelve to fifteen years, if you are lucky. Then your heart breaks. I didn't think I could take that pain again."

Her answer to the emptiness was a trip to Ireland with her brother and cousin to visit relatives. She returned home determined to avoid serious relationships and not to get another dog. Then Destiny called—not that cosmic force which many believe predetermines the course of their lives—but a woman who worked at the pet adoption center where Teresa was on the board of directors. Knowing Teresa's love for beagles, and with her in mind, they had rescued a one-year old beagle from being euthanized and wondered if she would take a look at him. At first sight, the dog howled his way into her heart, and she adopted him, naming him Seamus for an Irish uncle who was a funny character.

In the midst of trying to navigate the relationship with her boyfriend, who was twelve years her junior, and integrating a willful dog into the mix, Seamus was diagnosed with mast cell carcinoma at age two. Thus began Teresa's first journey into the scary world of cancer, chemo, and radiation, not knowing that she would later wage her own cancer battle.

Ms Rhyne writes with wit and humor, and with great candor. She gives information about cancer, but not in a dry, clinical fashion. Whether writing about her doctors, to whom she gave nicknames such as "Dr. Sorority Chick," "Dr. Good Karma," and Doctor Cindy Koo ("Little Dr. Cindy Koo—who looked no more than twenty-two..."), or her first venture into wig shopping—referring to the wigs as "road kill," I found myself chuckling, then laughing out loud.

Through her battles to get the right doctors and treatments for Seamus, Teresa gained the strength, knowledge, and courage to do the same for herself—and learned to take another chance on a dog, a man, and a new life. Honest, funny, and a compelling story of courage and triumph not only over cancer, but one's own demons, The Dog Lived (and So Will I) is a book that is sure to capture your heart.

Read an excerpt from this book.

In addition to being a writer, Teresa J. Rhyne is head of the Teresa Rhyne Law Group, a dog lover, and a cancer survivor. Among her many activities, she is on the board of directors of the Riverside Public Library Foundation, has been an active board member and volunteer at the Riverside Humane Society Pet Adoption Center for over nineteen years, and is presently president of their board of directors. She lives in Southern California with her boyfriend Chris, and their beagle Seamus. Visit her website.

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