The Dog Who Was There

Written by Ron Marasco
Review by Thomas j. Howley

Barley is born in the wilds of Judea to a loving mother dog. Life starts off tough and challenging until the mongrel pup is saved from certain death by a kind but poor elderly married couple. He lives simply and happily in their tiny home on the outskirts of Roman-occupied Jerusalem. Unexpected events break up the little family, and later Barley somehow links up with a homeless thief. Once again, his existence becomes precarious, but there are moments of joy in this new hostile environment. Accompanying his master into Jerusalem, Barley watches the splendor of a widely celebrated “Kind Man’s” arrival into the capital city on the back of a proud donkey with palm fronds spread before them. Barley also is witness to the violent and monumentally historic events which soon transpire.

Through the eyes of a small and lovable dog, this novel delivers a completely original impression and narration of the most familiar and greatest of all stories. From the pup’s perspective one learns a new understanding of terms like friendship and joy, but also of terror, ugliness, and betrayal. There are plenty of surprisingly clever twists. Though the book is imbued with a subtle and appealing spirituality, it doesn’t overwhelm with repeated biblical references.

Children will love and be inspired by Barley’s story, as will their parents and grandparents regardless of religion, or no religion. Readers will smile, occasionally laugh, and surely cry, but come away uplifted by this immensely moving little book. Highly recommended.