06 February 2017

Interesting & Unique Perspective | The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco


No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah.

He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley's eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we've never experienced before.

Barley's story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver's home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.

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Giving a unique perspective on the life of Jesus, Ron Marasco’s The Dog Who Was There fascinated me with its premise. The dog of the title, Barley, journeys to Jerusalem and encounters Jesus among other unlikely and interesting characters, and I enjoyed this trip into biblical history. Marasco sets the scenes well for familiar events, adds a few surprises within Barley’s experience, and naturally weaves in the necessary spiritual themes.

Yet, as much as I hoped to love this book, I didn’t entirely. Not being a fan of dogs, I quickly wearied of reading Barley’s perspective, which felt, at times, repetitive and simplistic, and didn’t feel connected with his character. So, in combination with the slow start to the novel, Barley’s story became a bit of a challenge to read. (For the record, I did take this into consideration before reading The Dog Who Was There. But I’ve read and enjoyed several books featuring dogs as prominent characters—just never as the main character…) Luckily, though, Barley did recapture my interest toward the end, as he witnesses Jesus’ last days and crucifixion, and the conclusion is quite satisfying.

With mixed feelings about The Dog Who Was There, it’s a hard book to recommend—but the readers who love biblical fiction and dogs just might enjoy it.


Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group, I received a complimentary copy of The Dog Who Was There and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.


Ron Marasco is a professor in the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His first book, Notes to an Actor, was named by the American Library Association an Outstanding Book of 2008. His second book, About Grief, has been translated into multiple languages, and he is currently completing a book on Shakespeare's sonnets. He has acted extensively on TVfrom Lost to West Wing to Entourage to originating the role of Mr. Casper on Freaks and Geeksand appeared opposite screen legend Kirk Douglas in the movie Illusion, for which he also wrote the screenplay. Most recently, he has played the recurring role of Judge Grove on Major Crimes. He has a BA from Fordham at Lincoln Center and an MA and Ph. D. from UCLA.

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