In the world of media and show business, man’s best friend can play a role as a faithful companion or the star of the show, which is where Lassie, Rin Tin Tin or Krypto (Superman’s pet dog) come to mind. Or there are dogs who become the protagonist of a novel, like White Fang or the canine in Farley Mowat’s classic “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be”. Or those dogs who act more human and go beyond the doghouse like Snoopy from the Peanuts comic strip.
Bill Boggs, an Emmy Award-winning TV talk host, producer, author and comedian, takes all the above doggy attributes and brings them to a whole new — and politically incorrect — level in his comic novel The Adventures of Spike the Wonder Dog.
The story focuses on Spike, an English Bull Terrier, whose faithful owner Bud is the host of a local TV talk show, which is like a combination of the Today Show and Live with Kelly and Ryan, in High Point, North Carolina. Somehow, Spike becomes an immediate, yet accidental, local media star when Bud asks him what he thought about his interview with Cher, which because of a bout of drowsiness, replies with a big, toothy yawn on camera.
This starts Spike’s career as a celebrity, where he travels to New York and Las Vegas to do some personal appearances at several star-studded events — that get weird and bizarre with every subsequent event — and ends up more like a publicity stunt than a star turn. Whether it was being dropped onto the ring of a boxing main title event from a drone in Las Vegas promoted by eccentric big shot Ike “I Got Money” Piles (where the drone is sponsored by Max-Ex Laxative, and Bud and Spike get a number of executive privileges such as the “Triple-Dollar-Sign Money Piles All-Access 3-D Hologram Boxing Glove Total Access Pass”), or running around the streets of New York City with a cowboy outfit-wearing monkey on his back, Spike plays along like the ultimate trooper.
And it pays off for both dog and master, as Bud and Spike move to New York City when they are offered their own TV talk show in the Big Apple. Things should be getting better for the duo, but it takes an almost tragic turn when Spike and his canine sweetheart Daisy are violently assaulted in broad daylight, and Spike is kidnapped and brought into the sinister world of dog fighting, where he is forced to literally fight for his life by its promoter who is, you guessed it, Ike “I Got Money” Piles.
One may think that this book would be ideal reading for kids or the YA crowd, but it’s not. This is a book for those who like their humour in a rather edgy, politically incorrect nature. What makes it such good escapist reading is that the entire narrative is told from the point-of-view of Spike himself, whose delivery is comparable to a raunchy, ascerbic comedian a la Lewis Black or Rodney Dangerfield. It gives the reader an interesting perspective of how much stupidity and humiliation a dog has to go through to give all those humans around him the satisfaction of good publicity, where in turn, Spike would like to reward them with a chomp on the leg. And by the way, the dog fighting scenes between Spike and his doggy opponents such as “Big Nipper” and “Monstro” are written with such ferocity, it would make Jack London proud.
The Adventures of Spike the Wonder Dog is quite an absurdly entertaining satirical novel of the pitfalls of being a celebrity animal. Hopefully, we will get to read about more doggy adventures from Spike, but after what he went through in this book, it’s going to take quite a massive effort to drag him away from the contentment of his orange dog house in North Carolina.