My Oh-So-Very-Biased Notes
by A.F. Henley
Hello! And thank you for joining me on the last stop of my But by the Grace of Dog release tour. I hope everyone is excited for a two-part giveaway (details further down the post) and an exclusive excerpt (also following below). As always, sharing with the fine group of readers within this genre has been a blast, and I’m honoured to be here at The Blogger Girls to tie up all the loose ends and give everyone one final shot at the prizes.
But by the Grace of Dog is one story about many newfound loves – the love between two men, the love between a person and a dog, and also the love of one’s self. It follows Thom Baron’s journey along the path of a brand new relationship—the thrills, the fun, the obstacles, and the self-realisation—as Thom learns how to not only express himself, but also deal with himself. The dog helps an awful lot with that process. As dogs tend to do with pretty much anything we ask them to.
Personally, I don’t know what I’d do without my fur babies. I only have two these days as apartment living can be a bit limiting:
But, it’s only been a few years since I’ve had to leave the animal rescue portion of my life behind (foster, rehab, raise-and-release, all very above board and sanctioned). So, I thought it would be fun to set the mood for this upcoming series, and end this blog tour by running through my oh-so-very-biased notes on the different kinds of animals I’ve met along the way. Some were rescues, some were pets, but they were all an amazing part of my life for some time.
If you enjoy, agree, or even if you completely disagree with my assessments, please feel free to share in a comment!
- Dog – I have been blessed by the fact that I’ve never known a bad dog in my entire life. There have been some that were cautious, and some that didn’t really care much about anything or anyone beyond their own personal human, but they’ve all been wonderful and I consider every one of them—even the cautious and disinterested ones—some of my very best friends in the world.
- Cat – What to say about a cat that hasn’t already been said a hundred times? How about this: cats are actually far more lovable than comics and memes make them out to be. They do get bored easily, though. Also, many of them, no matter how lovable they are, just cannot stop themselves from serenading you at three in the morning. Just make up whatever lie you need to in order to keep loving them when they do it. I usually try to tell myself that it’s his way of protecting me from the evil spirits that rise in the night. Or that he’s making sure I’m not dead.
- Raccoon – These little fellows definitely get a bad rap that, for the most part, they don’t deserve. They can be as lovable as a dog, and as clever as a cat. They will defend what they believe is theirs, as they should, but if they feel comfortable and are in an unthreatening environment, they are so, so, soooo chill. Peanut butter sandwiches will win you all kinds of appreciation.
- Squirrel – Speaking of raps that aren’t deserved… cute, right? Sweet? Adorable? *sound of a loud error buzzer* At their very best, these furry little demons-on-speed are cheeky. At their worst, they are the devil’s own. They will destroy everything you love and laugh at you while you curse them out. They are super soft and look really adorable when they’re sleeping, though.
- Rat – The rodent version of a dog. Loyal, smart, trainable, and they’ll eat just about anything. Once they get to know you they will never forget you.
- Possum – It’s hard to get too close to something with saw blades for teeth. But like most things, if you’re calm and patient and feed them good stuff, they’ll probably let you live.
- Mouse – Here’s the thing about mice: if you’re wondering if you’ve managed to separate the females from the males, all I can tell you is that you haven’t. Also, if they’ve been together for longer than two-point-four minutes, it’s too late. You are now the proud owner of six mice. Whoops, now it’s fifteen. Thirty. Eighty. Four hundred. It’s too late for you. They now own your house and are evicting you to make room for the nineteen-hundredth generation.
- Fawn – Looking into the eyes of a new fawn will show you the deepest secrets of the universe. Be careful, once you know, you can’t un-know.
- Bearded Dragon – The chillest (and chilliest) animal known to humankind. If you’re warm, and you are because you’re alive, then you are its best friend.
- Chinchilla – This animal was sculpted out of the soft down found under the feathers of angel’s wings. It is also as fast as hot snot.
- Flemish Giant – Not an actual “giant” unless you’re referring to all the other rabbits, then yes, it is the rabbit version of Andre the Giant. If you’re thinking that a rabbit the size of a medium dog would be absolutely adorable, then you are 100% correct.
- Ferret – As if a cat and a squirrel had a baby. Which means they can be completely wild and also amazingly loving. Plus, they don’t scream like a dying demon at three in the morning.
- Hairless Guinea Pig – Also known as the House Hippo, which is a reference that you won’t get unless you’re Canadian and of a “certain age.” Think hot water bottle come to life, with a tiny little hippo face and a tendency to squeal when you open the fridge door because it knows the strawberries are kept in there.
- Canada Goose – not as evil as everyone says… unless they feel threatened. Then, oh good gods, run. Hide.
I know I’m missing some, but I’ve taken up enough of everyone’s time already. I hope you enjoyed the post, and I truly hope you’re inspired enough with my love of all things furry, scaled, and feathered, to check out But by the Grace of Dog. Don’t forget to keep reading for an exclusive excerpt, the giveaway, and that handy little purchase link in case you just can’t wait another second to own your very own copy.
Man + Dog + Neighbour = True Love (but does it equal a HEA?)
Lots of love to the Blogger Girls and all my thanks for hosting me today. It’s been a blast. And tons of love to you, too, for joining me! It’s been a blast. 😊
All my love,
AF Henley ❤
About But By the Grace of Dog
Thom Baron has been struggling with social anxiety his entire life. He’s taken the medications, gone to the therapists, followed the programs, and concluded his best life is a solitary one. When he comes across a dog in obvious need at his local market, it rekindles the desire to have some company around. It may come with a dishevelled coat, a notched ear, and a refusal to respond to anything but its given name “Ugly,” but it could still be a friend.
However, Thom’s new fur buddy has no such need to keep to itself and immediately befriends the man Thom has secretly coveted since he moved in — Justin, Thom’s gorgeous, bright-eyed neighbour. No matter how Thom tries to evade the man, the dog keeps drawing them back into each other’s lives, and it doesn’t take Thom long to recognize it’s simply pursuing the demands of Thom’s own heart. With the dog giving him the courage to try, Thom reaches out to return the love being offered.
Until a stranger shows up insisting the dog is his and demanding its immediate return … a loss Thom knows will take all of his efforts and newfound confidence with it.
An Exclusive Excerpt from But by the Grace of Dog
“Have you had him checked?”
Thom ruffled Dog’s head and looked back at Justin. “Have I had him checked for what?”
“I don’t know.” Justin closed the lid to the barbecue and sat. He held out his hand to Dog, who instantly jumped up to grab a free pat on the head. “Anything. Everything?”
“Oh.” Thom bit the inside of his cheek. “I guess I should do that, right?”
“I would say so, yes. If nothing else, you’ll want to get shots and tags and get some flea and tick goop. It might even be worth having the doc check that weird bark of his.”
Thom cringed. “Ew, fleas. I forgot about them.” He gave Dog a long, speculative appraisal. “Wait…why?” An old, familiar squirm of apprehension began to worm through his chest. If he didn’t kill it now, it would wrap itself around his heart and start squeezing. “Do you think something’s wrong with him?”
“Nope,” Justin said, shaking his head. “I sure don’t. I’m just saying he probably needs a vet check. Besides, you don’t want to get in shit for not having tags, am I right?”
Thom’s chest tightened. Could that happen? Would someone show up at his door and march Dog away in doggie handcuffs? Illegal. Unlicensed. Doggy prison for you. The idea made him cringe as much as the idea of having to scope out a vet did. There would be phone calls. Office visits. People…“No, I definitely don’t want to get in trouble for that. I guess I’ll have to find someone.”
“My mom’s a vet,” Justin whispered, leaning closer, almost conspiratorially. “I can put in a good word for you.”
“I—” Thom tilted his head, trying to read Justin’s expression. “I would like that actually. I’m not…well, you know already. I’m not that good with people.”
“I’ll call for you. When did you want to set it up for? You work, right, so let’s see, I’d say Saturday, but that’s a way off still and sooner might be better than later. How about something after hours? Maybe like seven or so? Monday would be pushing it. On Tuesdays I think she does surgeries. How about Wednesday?”
I’ll call for you. People without anxiety had no idea how much of a relief those words were to those who had it. The squeeze in Thom’s chest stopped immediately, as if Justin had located the snake that had wound itself around his heart and killed it where it worked. He stroked his gut, but not in the normal way. This wasn’t to soothe the building nausea or still his pounding heart. This was a what-is-this-nice-sensation rub; a did-you-really-do-that moment of appreciation.
“Justin, that would be awesome. Will you really do that?”
“Sure. Reaching out can be hard for anybody, anxiety or not. And as much as you didn’t want to, you did me a solid by not making today too hard on me, so I can offer you a favour.”
Thom frowned, confused. “Today? What, here? Like, now, with this?”
“Yes,” Justin laughed. “This, here, today, mm-hmm.”
“Oh.” A smile tried to force itself on Thom’s face. He looked at the ground so he wouldn’t be caught by the infectiousness of Justin’s expression. It didn’t work, but at least he was giving the ground a goofy grin instead of Justin. “It’s not an exchange of favours. It’s just…”
“Of course it is. That’s what life is. Exchanges of moments, be it favours, experiences, or conversations. Commerce and employment. Information.” He paused until Thom glanced up. “Kisses. Intimacy. Sex.”
Heat blossomed in Thom’s cheeks. “Oh—”
Justin’s eyes suddenly widened. He jumped up. “Shit!”
“The burgers,” Thom said, relief flooding his entire body as they lost not only eye contact but widened proximity.
“The burgers!” A waft of black smoke engulfed Justin’s head when he opened the barbeque. “Son of a…well, I guess we’re having them well done.”
Dog huffed. It was definitely a, “sounds good to me.”
Thom had to agree. He’d never been so happy in his life to be handed a burger as he was at that moment.
First, leave a comment on this post for a chance to win one of these adorable keychains, along with a promo pack. One winner per blog post. Second, check out the Rafflecopter link for a chance to win a $25 credit to JMS Books. One winner throughout the tour. All contests close December 9th.
Don’t forget to check out Nikyta’s review of But by the Grace of Dog to see what she thought of it!