Talking Dogs with Author Dale Ryan

Author Dale Ryan has perfected the art of living with canines. She and her husband live with five dogs in a beautiful country home that they remodeled and furnished with their animals in mind. After reading her observations and ogling at the colorful photographs that document her lifestyle in the new book Sleeping with the Beast, I sent Dale a few questions…

Dale Ryan Author Photo

Author Dale Ryan and one of her dogs.

You are clearly a lover of Shar Pei dogs. Are there special considerations in your house that reflect that choice of breed?

Eighteen years ago, my six year old son, Zachary, came home from school looking like the world was on top of his slight young shoulders.  The reason for his sadness was due to the fact he was close to my father who was dying.  He handed me a picture of a Shar Pei from a magazine and simply stated, “I want one.”  Like most mothers who see their child in distress, I responded with, “Yes, of course you can.”  I looked at the adorable photo of a wrinkly, little puppy and asked myself, “What is this breed all about?” Two months later, after the passing of my dad, Austin, an older pup came to live with our family of boys and female labs. I had always owned Dobermans, German Shepherds, Labs, and mutts, but having a Shar Pei is so very different from other breeds.  Shar Peis are so incredibly ethereal and Shaman-like because of their folds and wrinkles, which make them shape change.  Actually, Austin looked a bit like a manatee. Shar Peis are very protective and well guarded by anyone they encounter. Since we discovered the joys, and sadly the losses, of Shar Peis, we have had Winston, Buddha, and now Rupert and Clementine.  And Zachary, no longer the little boy, lives in Los Angeles and has a Shar Pei named Elma.  

It’s fascinating that you note a difference between how British households and American households view their dogs. Do you have a sense of that changing? Is America becoming more accepting of and focused on our dogs?

Historically speaking, a dog’s role in the UK and the US differ on so many levels, yet we have a mutual love for them. Early paintings of the English landscape depict many animals working or frolicking about. Today, herding dogs are still so much a part of the sustainability of English country life. Field dogs also play a role when it comes to British sport and hunting. In the United States, dogs are usually family companions, guard dogs or highly trained for search and rescue missions. Americans are very generous with helping shelters and protecting the lives of dogs.

I believe dogs are becoming more integrated into our society. Hotels are becoming more accommodating for both dogs and cats. Shopkeepers are great at having dogs in their work place. Therapeutic dogs are becoming more apparent in alcohol and drug rehabs. In urban areas, more dog parks have been established as well as doggy day care centers. Additionally, with the rise of unattached single people, many folks have opted for dogs as their companions and protectors. It’s rare to see dogs in restaurants and hopefully with time the American dog will be seen doing its job on the ranch and for companion dogs, enjoying the comforts of casual dining venues.

What are the holidays like at your house?

Now that the boys are grown and live in different parts of the country with their dogs, we know that wherever we go, dogs are part of the holiday spirit.  

In your mind, what is the overall most important thing to keep in mind when living with dogs?

Like any member of a family, dogs need to be reminded they are loved. When you know you are loved and cared for, life is so much sweeter.

You can read more about Dale Ryan’s canine castle, and her recommendations for living a functional and artful life with many dogs in her book.

Sleeping with the Beast

Where do you live? Does your community embrace dogs?


About crystalwayward

I live with two formerly wayward dogs. I care deeply about the environment, and I think gardening is a revolutionary act.

Posted on November 29, 2012, in Dogs, Dogtography, Random Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. What a dreamy life! I would love to live on some land with a bunch of dogs!

  1. Pingback: The Black Oracle « Wayward Dogs

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