Thursday, November 3, 2016

One "Hand"y Dog - The Dog with the Opposable Thumb (review)

TITLE: The Dog with the Opposable Thumb
AUTHOR: Mark Barkawitz
PUBLISHER: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
PUBLISHING DATE: June 19, 2016

FROM GOODREADS:  When an accidentally DNA-altered puppy is born with a thumb, his lovelorn, grad-student caretaker devises a strategy to achieve their Kardashian-like fame and fortune. But what goes up . . . must inevitably fall back down in this tale of unrequited love and 21st century celebrity. Howlingly good fun! 20% of proceeds from book sales will be donated to the Pasadena Humane Society & the SPCA.

So I really have to start out by saying that my rating is probably pretty biased, and if I didn't love dogs so much, I might be tempted to give it a 3/5. However, when I picked this book up late one night for a quick read, I was so quickly intrigued by Solo and Marty's story that I couldn't help but love the crazy and zany story I ended up reading.

Marty is a struggling grad student trying to make ends meet. When his Golden, Joy Baby, ends up accidentally pregnant while Marty is trying to leave the boarding kennel, he tries to prepare himself for taking care of a new liter of pups. However, much to Marty's relief, Joy Baby only has one pup and what a very unique pup he is. Instead of just a dew claw, Solo's right paw has a jointed dew claw much like an opposable thumb. Marty quickly teaches Solo some tricks and becomes a Youtube sensation, which leads to numerous media deals. Marty and Solo suddenly get swept up in all the luxuries of fame..and all the downfalls too.

I really enjoyed reading about Marty and Solo. Marty is a somewhat flawed individual, but his flaws make him more relatable. It was fun to see how Marty gets caught up in fame and fortune. He dearly loves his pups, but at times, I did feel sorry for Solo. I mean, what dog wants to have to "earn" a living? Unfortunately, I feel that during his claim to fame, Solo looses some of his puppyhood. However, Solo was always treated well and Marty does his best to make sure the needs of both of his dogs are met. This book is touted as "An Accidental Love Story" and while it is, the love story is so minor it almost doesn't exist. In fact, I think the love story is more likely the love between Marty and his mutant pooch. My only real issue with "The Dog with the Opposable Thumb" is the writing style, to which I quickly adjusted. Basically I found it to not be so much a novel, as Marty's spoken tale. So quite often it's told in a very informal manner- which actually works pretty good after the first 30 or so pages. The author does have an affinity for parentheses and uses them a lot (and I mean a lot :) It was bothersome at first, but once I became involved in the story, I didn't really care.

Overall, if you love dogs and really quirky tales, you really have to pick up this book. I was contacted by the author and provided a copy for review in exchange for an honest opinion and I'm really glad about it or else I might not have this little hidden "pup gem" sitting on my shelf. It's a wonderful lighthearted read and a great look at what dogs can add to a person's life.


BOOKER T's THOUGHTS:  I really liked Solo and Cass and I really need him around so he can open the fridge for us while Mom and Dad are at work.  However, since he crashed his dad's Porsche, I think I'll stick to driving us around.

Mark Barkawitz has earned local and national awards for his fiction, poetry, essay, and screenwriting. His work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, literary journals and anthologies, ‘zines, and on dozens of websites. He has IMDb feature film credits as screenwriter, actor, & associate producer (Mark Bark) for “Turn of the Blade” (NorthStar Ent.) and supporting actor in “The Killing Time” (New World Pictures). He’s taught creative writing classes, coached a championship track team of student/athletes, and ran the 2001 L.A. Marathon in 3:44:42. He lives with his wife and has two kids in Pasadena, CA.


  1. How great is that title?

    If I had a special dog, I'd love one that actually talked though...that would be really great.