You’ll Love Rebecca Warner’s New Novel, My Dad My Dog



My-Dad-My-Dog-Rebecca-Warner By Rebecca Warner

When she moves her Alzheimer’s-afflicted dad into the home she shares with her husband and elderly dog, Rachel Morgan expects some complications, but she never imagines the biggest one will occur on the first day, threatening her best-intentioned caregiving plans.

Her normally sweet-natured dad—a former mailman who experienced too many run-ins with biting dogs—is adamant about wanting nothing to do with her big black Labrador. But as Rachel tends to the escalating physical and emotional needs of each, she notices the striking similarities in their aging processes, and realizes these two souls whom she loves deeply are on the same journey.

With time working against her, Rachel must find a way to transform their uneasy truce into a trusting companionship. In doing so, she hopes to make their shared journey less lonely and frightening—and more bearable for those who must someday let them go.

Besides emphasizing the challenges to Alzheimer’s patients and their families in dealing with dementia, my purpose in writing My Dad My Dog was to shine a light on the difficulty of being an in-home caregiver. There is no compensation or training for this most difficult of jobs, something I believe is unjust and detrimental to society.

This is a work of fiction because my dad, who had Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes, never lived with me.  Dad lived in a wonderful assisted living facility where he received exceptional care. I visited him every day, year in and year out, unless completely snowed-in or traveling. I took him to every doctor’s appointment and was involved in every decision about medical procedures, treatments, medications and therapy. Yes, as his Health Care Surrogate I had duties; but as his daughter, I acted out of pure love.

Nick, our big black Lab, did live with me and my husband. In the last year of Dad and Nick’s lives, I became aware of the striking similarities in their aging processes. Nick was 12 and had hip dysplasia, and was developing dementia. Dad’s mobility was declining from the after-effects of a broken hip. On the bright side, their sunny dispositions and “can do” attitudes never changed. They passed within a short time of each other in 2011.

My husband and I grieved deeply, but we found comfort in recalling the good times spent with both. And one day I began to wonder…what would it have been like if Dad had lived with us? As a fiction writer, I created that world in my mind, devised a plot of conflict between Dad and Dog (making Rachel’s caregiving more difficult), and then wrote a story steeped in love. I worked with a wonderful organization in Asheville that provides support for caregivers and their patients, and talked with a number of in-home caregivers about their own experiences.

Alzheimer’s patients often lose verbal communication skills, but they intuit much about us through our tone and demeanor. Treating patients with respect, learning better communication techniques, and helping them maintain their dignity goes a long way in helping both the patient and caregiver better cope with the reality of the disease’s effects.


Rebecca Warner is the author of the two-time award-winning thriller, Moral Infidelity, as well as Doubling Back To Loveand He’s Just A Man. She has been a newspaper columnist and a blogger for HuffPost. As health care surrogate for her parents, Rebecca navigated Rebecca-Warner-My-Dad-My-Dogthe caregiver and healthcare labyrinth for fourteen years. Her experiences inspired her to write My Dad My Dog. Rebecca and her husband Jason live in Asheville with their stumpy-tailed Blue Heeler, Chance.

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