Sleeping with the Beast is what is sometimes called a coffee table book, one displayed in a living room and not filed away in a bookcase.
The Ryans have spent twelve years living at their home, Breeze Hill Farms, a country estate in Connecticut. During that time they have renovated the extensive farm house and built several barns, a pool house and a greenhouse.
Foremost in their renovation has been developing an environment that is comfortable for two adults, two boys and five large dogs.
Besides giving decorating tips for a gracious, comfortable home, she also covers cooking for (and with) dogs (complete with recipes), gardening with dogs, sleeping with dogs, allowing dogs to be dogs, buying and raising a puppy, and saying goodbye to a dog.
The chapter on sleeping with dogs is priceless. She suggests that those of us who sleep with dogs may be overgrown children seeking the comfort of teddy bears. While I have spent most of my life sleeping with small breeds, the reality of two humans sleeping with three Shar Peis and an occasional giant Mastiff belonging to her son was enlightening.
To someone who has lived with dogs in the house for any period of time there is not a lot of new information. Some of her advice seems self-evident: put fragile items up high, choose solidly built furniture and durable fabrics, gardening tools can be sharp and dangerous...
If anything she probably tries to cover too much, for example, legal and medical matters and Michael Vick. I would like to have read more anecdotes about her children and the dogs as they lived their daily lives at Breeze Hill Farms.
I was somewhat off put by a typo on the first page of the introduction and a misquoting of one of my favorite dog quotations by Groucho Marx.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.
Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to reach.
It should be “read,” not “reach.”
But that is being a trifle picky. Once an English teacher, it is hard to be rehabilitated.
Generally this is a beautifully appointed book with gorgeous full color pictures. A sort of Better Homes and Gardens where we can live comfortably with the dogs we love.