A hilarious, acerbic, heartbreaking, and ultimately joyous memoir of finding companionship through the frustrations of living next to a barking dog and an oblivious neighbor.
The Dog Log, written as a daily notation to the sheriff's department, begins as a simple complaint about a barking dog, but it soon becomes a powerful self-exploration and confessional. It's a touching, hilarious, and cleverly sneaky memoir of a man in Los Angeles who rediscovers himself when his elderly neighbor falls and he must reluctantly tend to her two badly behaved Yorkshire terriers. What he discovers in her apartment shocks him into a surprising decision, and by addressing her problems, he inadvertently helps to resolve his own. With humor and honesty, The Dog Log looks into big-city loneliness, heartbreak, and, ultimately, old age, but then climbs into the light. When one man knocks on his neighbor's door, his life changes forever.
September 29, 10:15 a.m.
Sophie is barking.
September 29, 10:30 a.m.
Sophie is still barking.
September 29, 12:00 p.m.
Barking. Barking. Barking... This is day one for you, maybe, but far from it for me. Sophie’s had me stretched over the rack for well over a year. The invasion of my sound space seven days a week. If God'd made an eighth day, she’d destroy that one, too - those yelps, seized up in a permanent panic - like a dog version of Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” with unseeable sound...
Please enjoy this clip of Richard reading at West Hollywood's legendary Book Soup. He's a true performer! Schedule a reading w/ Q&A for your location, library, book club, wine club, or fundraiser today! It's great fun!
"Compelling and original... A strange, sideways journey into human contact..."
"If Dostoyevsky lived in Los Angeles and had a sense of humor Notes from the Underground might have turned out a lot like The Dog Log. Deep, funny and beautifully written, this fictionalized memoir is an antidote to modern urban alienation."
"'Mirth is the mail of anguish,' said Emily Dickinson, and many classic American humorists have agreed. In The Dog Log Richard Lucas spins a yarn that’s both funny and sad, and altogether engaging. After piloting steamboats Mark Twain did stand-up comedy and became an author. He might be smiling benignly as in today’s Tinseltown this modern storyteller navigates the shoals of friendship and romance, bureaucracy and metaphysics, showbiz and sanitation, with a cargo of kibble."
“Richard is a master storyteller… such a clever conceit, and, beyond funny, it’s an awakening – humbling, personal and profound. Watching him tell his story has been both exciting and inspiring. And even better, now it can be a proper book for everyone to enjoy.”
"The first book to have brought a tear to my eye in years… Funny, poignant and clever - a veritable reinvention of the modern love story.”
"I was enthralled by The Dog Log... It's exceedingly rare to find a book that expresses such depth of feeling from the male point of view. I hope that everyone in the counseling and other helping professions takes the opportunity to benefit from the window of insight that Lucas' wonderful book provides into the complexity of relationships, both with other humans and with our four-legged friends."
"A brilliant conceit… the journal is masterfully realized as an intimate, flesh-and-bone novel... funny, honest and heartbreakingly rendered... Unpretentious and real, this soulful confessional is a welcome departure from the tired cynicism of hipster culture. As a result, The Dog Log is as nourishing as it is entertaining."
"It's so about the fragility of our existence... the incredible perseverance in finding a way... I loved it!"
"This heartwarming 'who saved whom?' story will appeal to dog owners, the lovelorn, and fans of comic memoirs."
"A George Carlin-esque memoir... Its movements high stakes... this is a stylized work that moves beyond the reportage of its log."
REVIEW from TheTVolution.com
Yorkies of the Baskervilles In Richard Lucas’ ‘The Dog Log’
"Humorous, cantankerous, philosophical, introspective and oh so entertaining..."
By Ernest Kearney — In his 1944 play No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre famously penned, “Hell is other people.” In The Dog Log, the epistolary memoirs by Richard Lucas, I’m sure the author might insist Sartre apply the adjunct “And Yorkies too!”
Lucas’ humorous, cantankerous, philosophical, introspective and oh so entertaining ontological tome emerged from a dilemma most of us have had to endure; the dreaded pain in the ass neighbor. For Lucas, this timeless predicament came with two small yapping variations.
In the bungalow behind his own on Los Angele’s West Side was the ground zero of hoarders: A labyrinth, overflowing with the wreckage of a life miss-lived and reeking of dog piss; dwelled, therein, a small, round, half-blind, partially deaf octogenarian minotaur with an “ostrich figure” named “Irene.”
Joining Irene in her task to dump the torments of hell on Lucas were two pint sized furry furies, Sophie and Nelson whom he describes with simmering bitterness. Sophie – “Beady little glassy brown eyes snarl from her pointy face, and her sweaty black nose twitches constantly like a divining rod to the devil’s lake of fire.” And Nelson with his “feces-stuck scruff”, the canine Hare to Sophie’s barking Burke. “He’s mute,” writes Lucas, “the best kind of Yorkie.”
Failed rock star, ex-South Central high school English teacher, newly dumped by the love of his life, and barely scraping by as a freelance graphic designer, Lucas has withdrawn into his rent controlled ossuary, seeking to disappear like Gollum in the bowels of the Misty Mountains or Jack Torrance in the emptiness of the Overlook Hotel.
He wants to be alone with his regrets, his bitter memories and a box of cheap wine from Trader Joe’s.
But keeping Lucas from entering that perfect Zen state of self-pity is the jarring discordance of Sophie’s never-ending yodel of yaps –
“She barks like she has three heads. It’s like the screeching metal emergency-braking wheels of a freight train that’s about to hit a school bus filled with screaming kids.”
After an abundance of ignored appeals to Irene, Lucas turns to the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station for relief, and is told the only hope he has of forcing Irene do something about her dogs is by taking her to court. He’s instructed to keep a record, a running account of all offending barking, day and night, covering a minimum of six months to show the judge. And so, Lucas takes pen in hand and sets to chronicling, for the unknown member of the Sheriff’s department who will eventually review his testimony, all the suffering inflicted on him by that four-legged Chinese water torture with fleas.
Hence you have The Dog Log.
I first encountered Lucas’ work when his play Bono and the Edge Waiting for Godomino’s earned the TVO’s Best Comedy Award in the 2017 Hollywood Fringe. In this superbly clever reworking of Waiting for Godot Lucas transposed the characters of Estragon and Vladimir with Bono and David Evans (aka “The Edge”) of the iconic band U2.
In merging “the lifestyles of the rich and famous” with Beckett’s masterpiece, Lucas unified their stereoscopic visions into a narrative doppelganger that succeeded in delivering an inspired double-dose of absurdity.
Bono and the Edge Waiting for Godomino's was a well-crafted and intelligent work, so I expected to find both qualities in reading The Dog Log. Happily, in that expectation, I was not disappointed.
Lucas tells his tale with a profusion of humor, and I actually found myself laughing out loud as I sat reading it in the Barnes and Noble café. The narrative also ripples with references that naturally flow from a former educator and lover of great literature.
Between snickers and chortles, Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov pops up, Nietzsche has a moment, and Lucas manages segues from Kierkegaard to Johnny Cash and Rear Window.
What I hadn’t anticipated in giving myself over to the journey held within the covers of The Dog Log, was the depth nor the darkness of some places the author chose to take his reader.
Pathos doesn’t drip off the pages of Lucas’ work, it catapults.
In weaving his web of weltschmerz, the author shifts between droll humor and painful honesty, at points bringing his readers uncomfortably close to the edge of an emotional abyss, yet thankfully always preventing them from plunging over by a lifeline of insight.
At the core of The Dog Log is the subject of connection, and the art and folly of its application.
How do we connect with those we love, those we cringe at, our families, strangers on the street, those we’ve lost, those who have left us, ourselves, our memories, and those who yap ceaselessly.
With a style approaching Japanese senryu, Lucas takes us down dark paths, but the light at the end of his tunnel is a reminder of a too often forgotten truth, that, as Robert Ingersoll wrote, “We rise by lifting others.”
The Dog Log’s final destination is a celebration of humanity’s consummate trait, and the saving grace of our species; we create relationships. In doing so, not only do we learn about others, but more importantly we learn about ourselves.
The Dog Log by Richard Lucas will make you laugh, and make you cry, it certainly did me. But it will also remind you of something miraculous; that by reaching out we discover the possibilities of love and family in the most unexpected of places and may even find salvation in a yapping Yorkie.
This is Lauren.
This is Nelson.
These fluctuate over time, but this was a nice moment for us. We're so grateful that people are enjoying the book, and are perhaps turning to reading during the quarantine. I do hope Lauren, Nelson, Irene, and I are spreading smiles!
You'll see in the second pic that we even bumped Marley & Me! (...at least for a moment.) If you've been thinking of getting/gifting the book, please do! And if you have a good rating/review, please post at Amazon and/or B&N because they really help new people discover the book. Thank you so much! Arf! Arf!
From Dogster Magazine, February/March, 2020
"Comedian and playwright Richard Lucas shares the incredible story of how the incessant barking of his neighbor’s dogs drove him into — and then pulled him out of — a miserable phase of his life. He’s tortured in his own home by the constant barking of the Yorkies belonging to his elderly neighbor, Irene (who ignored his pleading). Eventually, the daily stress, along with his struggles to make it in Hollywood and the aftermath of a recent breakup, nearly causes him to have a breakdown. When he sought help from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s department, the solution was to maintain a log of each individual bark for six months. And The Dog Log was born.
It starts as a series of hilarious and curmudgeonly rants, but the story takes quite a turn when an ambulance rushes Irene to the hospital. With nobody to look after the Yorkies, Lucas enters Irene’s home and discovers a hidden life of squalor and two neglected animals. Before long, The Dog Log turns into a diary of self-reflection and transformation. As he works out his issues with the Yorkies, Lucas also works on his own flaws, learning about the joy of helping others and how a change in perspective can transform your life. Published by Chicago Review Press."
From Journalist Emily Holland
LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA — As 2019 comes to a close, we're looking back at stories that touched our hearts, restored our faith in humanity or simply made us smile.
From connecting the dots between the two nicest guys in entertainment, to a widow reconnecting with her late husband on a Netflix show, there are plenty of stories from around L.A. County that made us go, "awww."...
“Sometimes we just need a feel-good true story to warm us up. In this book, comedian and playwright Richard Lucas shares his heartfelt and hilarious story of how the incessant barking of his neighbor’s Yorkshire Terriers led him to a journey of self-discovery. It started with a bark-by-bark log to present the sheriff’s department, but his neighbor being rushed to the hospital left him having to care for the pups that plagued him. This led to a new perspective on life. Equal parts memoir and dogoir, comedy and therapy, his story explores everyday challenges and the power of people and animals to help one another. So if the weather outside is too frightful, sit by the fire and grab this book for a great pick-me-up.”
We're honored to be among a group of such fun and informative dog book titles!
Journalist Emily Holland interviews Richard about The Dog Log.
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA — Our dogs are our best friends, but what happens when your neighbors pups just won't shut up?
Richard Lucas, an award-winning writer and comedian from West Hollywood, tells the story of how his neighbor's yapping Yorkie drove him into, and pulled him out of, a miserable phase of his life...
Journalist Emily Lewis interviews Richard about The Dog Log.
In the interview below, author Richard Lucas discusses the difficulties and joys of writing and the fascinating journey of transforming his comedy sketch into what became The Dog Log.
The Dog Log, written as a daily notation to the sheriff’s department, begins as a simple complaint about a barking dog, but it soon becomes a powerful self-exploration and confessional. What was your experience putting those raw, powerful emotions on the page?
It was very difficult. Fortunately, I’d had some experience on stage going to those emotional places,...
As a former English teacher, Richard is tickled to now be an official part of the Dewey Decimal System! Arf! Arf!
Early in the book writing process, Richard was invited to discuss the experience of befriending and training the dogs he'd despised.