Dog Days

Dog Days

4.4 9
by Elsa Watson

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In Elsa Watson's Dog Days, struggling café owner Jessica Sheldon volunteered to be the chairperson of Woofinstock, Madrona's annual dog festival, to overcome her reputation as "number one dog hater" in her dog crazy Northwestern town. Determined to prove her dog-loving credentials, Jessica rescues Zoe, a stray white German shepherd— and in the

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In Elsa Watson's Dog Days, struggling café owner Jessica Sheldon volunteered to be the chairperson of Woofinstock, Madrona's annual dog festival, to overcome her reputation as "number one dog hater" in her dog crazy Northwestern town. Determined to prove her dog-loving credentials, Jessica rescues Zoe, a stray white German shepherd— and in the process the two are struck by lightning.

Jessica wakes to discover paws where her feet should be, and watches in horror as her body staggers around the town square…. Zoe and Jessica have switched bodies. Learning to live as a dog is difficult enough, but Jessica's real worry is saving her café from financial ruin. To complicate matters, she's falling hard for Max, the town veterinarian.

It's clear that Zoe is thrilled to live life on "human terms," thoroughly relishing all of the fun and food Woofinstock has to offer. But Zoe is also anxious to use her new human skills to find her missing family—who may not want her back. And Jessica needs to confront a complicated figure from her past before she can move on with her life.

Jessica and Zoe will need to learn from each other to set things right, and possibly find acceptance and love in the bargain.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this fast-paced, imaginative romp, Watson (Maid Marian) introduces Jessica Sheldon, a cafe owner with a deep fear of dogs. Unfortunately for her, Madrona, Wash., is packed with dog lovers and home to the annual Woofinstock. Jessica’s cafe is struggling in part because of an unfortunate antidog blowup on Jessica’s part during the previous year’s festival. While trying to make amends, Jessica rescues Zoe, a stray German shepherd—and a bolt of lightning causes the two to exchange bodies. Jessica has a crush on the town vet, Dr. Max Nakamura, and he reveals in front of “Zoe” that it’s reciprocated. But is Jessica destined to stay a dog forever, or will she eventually make her way back to her own body? For anyone who has ever wondered what their beloved pets would say if they could talk, this adorable PG-rated love story provides a sweetly imagined answer, with smart poetic justice in the end. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. (June)
From the Publisher

Dog Days is everything I love in a book: funny, tender, beautifully crafted, and cleverly plotted, with a perfect twist of an ending I didn't see coming. ” —Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“For anyone who has ever wondered what their beloved pets would say if they could talk, this adorable love story provides a sweetly imagined answer, with smart poetic justice in the end.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Dog Days

“Drop everything and read this book! Watson's rendering of the inner life of a dog is pitch perfect. Zoe and Jessica are an unforgettable and unique take on the buddies by accident story. Brava!” —Susan Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of One Good Dog

“A delightful story that readers should relax with and just enjoy. Anyone who loves animals, and has ever imagined what they might be thinking, will find this to be a wholly amusing tale. Those who haven't may see the world from a different point of view.” —RT BookReviews (4 stars)

“A doggone good story, told with humor, warmth, and insight.” —Sheila Roberts, bestselling author of On Strike for Christmas

“I savored Dog Days for its humor, beautiful prose, heartwarming storyline, and quirky, unusual perspective. Elsa Watson writes with compassion and deep insight.” —Anjali Banerjee, author of Haunting Jasmine

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Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
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Dog Days

By Elsa Watson

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2012 Elsa Watson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-4205-8


The Day I Became a Dog


Rain splashed down as I dodged puddles, wishing I'd worn something more sensible than heels. I pushed myself to go faster, thinking of the importance of my mission. Our café staff, including my wonderful business partner Kerrie, was counting on me — I couldn't let them down.

A quick sniff of salt-sharp air told me that the tide was out. For a second, I let my mind wander away to the beach that skirted our little town, picturing the washing waves and gray gulls dancing on the wind. Then I pulled my attention back to the task at hand.

The Northwest Electric office was right next door to the official entrance to the town square, an arch that read A HAPPY DOG BRINGS GRACE TO THE WORLD. Bright yellow posters covered the arch, advertising our big festival, Woofinstock, which started the next day.

I burst in through the Northwest Electric office's double doors, panting from the weather, and shook off my raincoat so I wouldn't drip on anyone's paperwork. The lobby was ringed with cubicles and office doors, and the wall outside each one boasted one of the yellow posters, showing a grinning dog and the words "Woofinstock! A full weekend of fun, celebrating dogs in all shapes and sizes. Proudly sponsored by the town of Madrona, Washington, a wonderland for dogs." Woofinstock always fell on the first weekend in September — it was a tradition you could bank on.

I took a deep breath and headed up to the counter. A woman in her fifties with short blond hair and a nametag that read MARGUERITE stood on the other side, snapping her gum. A dolphin tattoo peeked out above her shirt's neckline.

"Can I help you?" she asked.

"Yes, please," I said, realizing I had no idea what I was going to say. "I'm one of the owners of the Glimmerglass Café over on the square. We've been late with our bill. ... I'm really, really sorry about that. But our lights just went out, and if we can't stay open for Woofinstock, we'll never make enough to get on our feet again. I'm uh —" I bit my lip. "I guess I'm here to beg."

Marguerite nodded, snapped her gum again, and turned to her computer, typing in our information. I hated to stare at her while she worked, so I looked down instead at the Woofinstock flyers lying on the counter. My stomach clenched as I scanned the familiar list of activities that made up the weekend: the Pet-and-Person Beauty Contest, the Agility Contest, the 5K Run, the Obedience Trials, Microchipping, the 2-Mile Walk, and the Closing Ceremonies on the green. Throughout it all, restaurants like mine were allowed to run a booth where we handed out coupons and free samples, and sold our signature espressos. If we didn't have electricity in the café, all that promotion would be pointless.

Marguerite looked up from her screen. "The Glimmerglass Café? You owe two hundred forty-nine dollars and thirty-six cents. Obviously we can't turn your power back on until you pay that."

I pulled out my personal checkbook and started writing. "Once this is paid, how long will it take to get the power back on?"

Marguerite shrugged. "Should be on by tomorrow afternoon at the latest."

My mouth went dry. "Tomorrow afternoon? But tomorrow is the first day of Woofinstock — do you know how much business we'll lose if we aren't open first thing in the morning?"

Another shrug. I took a deep breath and tried to calm down.

"Please. Is there anything you can do to speed things up? I know we were late. I know we're the ones to blame. But our café's really in crisis here — if we don't do well this weekend, we're going to have to close. Please, is there any way you can help?"

Marguerite glanced at the computer screen, then down at my check. "Jessica Sheldon, that's you?"

"That's me." I held my breath. I could almost hear her mind clicking back over past articles in the Madrona Advocate, remembering where she'd heard my name. "Aren't you that dog hater?" She looked up at me, right into my eyes. "Yeah, the Glimmerglass Café — that was you who screamed at those little dogs, wasn't it?"

I swallowed hard, a difficult thing to do in the face of her obvious disgust. "Yes," I said quietly. "That was me." As I lowered my gaze, I spotted a magnetized photo of two miniature Chihuahuas, stuck to Marguerite's monitor. My heart sank. I waited for her to yell at me, or at least launch into a forty-five-minute lecture. Instead, she narrowed her eyes.

"What really happened? I mean, you don't really hate dogs, do you?"

I shook my head, sure she wouldn't believe me. It was hard to explain exactly what had occurred. My dog disaster had happened in the middle of last year's Woofinstock, when we were up to our eyeballs in customers. Kerrie was acting as hostess, shuffling customers around like a dealer in Vegas. Our servers dashed from the kitchen to the dining room, scarcely pausing to look before they rammed through the swinging doors. I flew from one emergency to the next. Seconds after I plugged up the spewing espresso machine, a kid vomited on table six, and two servers collided, spilling tomato basil soup and crab dip all over the diners at table eleven.

Just then, a fresh ruckus drew all eyes to the front door. An older woman in a pink hat had entered with four Pomeranians and a Great Dane, all on leashes.

Generally, the Glimmerglass's policy on dogs was the same as all the Madrona restaurants. If the place was quiet and no one seemed to mind, we let well-mannered dogs come in, despite what the health codes said and the amount that they terrified me. However, if we were crowded, all dogs waited outside, no matter how delightful their manners.

I was already on edge, so I was on my way to ask her to move the dogs outside, when the woman lost hold of all five leashes. The dogs sped off like they were part of a jailbreak. One shoved its nose in a lady's lap at table nine. Another raced into the crowd and disappeared. Instantly, I imagined the worst. Carnage. Violence. Brutality. Children missing fingers and customers with flesh torn from their legs.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Great Dane with its paws on top of a table, licking soup out of a little kid's bowl, while the child shrieked with laughter. One of the Pomeranians dashed past me with a dinner roll in its mouth, and I lunged after it but missed badly — I was too frightened to really try to catch it. Seconds later, I jumped about a foot in the air. Something was licking my ankle!

Around me, the room spun in a kaleidoscope of faces, some laughing, some staring. One woman had a Pomeranian in her lap, and I lunged for it, hoping to knock the little dog away so the woman would be safe. It was clearly about to go for the jugular. Before I could reach her, the Great Dane came loping toward me, drool hanging from its snout in long cords. The drool of a man-eater.

I screamed. It was one of those horror-movie screams, the kind that ripples with terror. Everyone in the café could hear me, but it didn't matter. Even if I'd tried, I couldn't have stopped myself. "Get away from me!" I bellowed. "Get away, you vicious, evil beasts! I hate you! Hate you!"

Right then, a flash went off in my face. When the spots cleared from my vision, I blinked and found myself face-to-face with the Madrona Advocate's newest reporter.

The following morning, I opened the paper and saw my worst fears realized in newsprint. The photo showed me at my most hideous — dark hair frizzed around my head like raised hackles, mouth twisted midshout. I had a spoon in my hand that I was aiming at the Great Dane like a sword. Underneath the photo ran this caption: Glimmerglass owner Jessica Sheldon berates visiting dogs in her restaurant. The dogs are owned by Mary Beth Osterhoudt, owner of Oster Organic Dog and Cat Foods, Woofinstock's premier sponsor. Mrs. Osterhoudt says she is now unlikely to continue her support of Madrona's showcase event — support that has amounted to over $10,000 annually.

It was one of the worst moments of my life.

I knew immediately that it was all my fault. As Kerrie put it, the dogs were just being dogs. And I was being crazy. I was the one who'd caused all the trouble. It was me — my paranoia, my paralyzing fear of dogs — that had caused the disaster.

The last thing I'd wanted to do was put the town in jeopardy, but of course all of Madrona detested me for the lost support. The café's phone reservation line stopped ringing. People pulled their dogs away when they saw me coming down the street. The shopkeepers worried about their businesses, the city council worried about our reputation, and Kerrie and I worried that the Glimmerglass would have to close. That saying about there being no such thing as bad publicity? Not true.

I couldn't bear the thought of losing the café — it was the one place I had that felt like home. It killed me that I'd been the one to put all that in danger. Thankfully, Kerrie sat me down with a cup of tea and helped me make a repair plan — a plan that I flung myself into.

I went before the city council and apologized. For a week, I stood next to the statue of Spitz, our town hero, and handed out free dog cookies. Spitz was a Doberman who saved two Madrona children from drowning twenty years ago. When he died, the city council commissioned a bronze likeness of him and matching doghouse that they placed in the center of the cobblestoned square. It was a town gathering point, the perfect place to do penance.

As my final act of contrition, I volunteered to head up the business owners' committee for Woofinstock, a job that required me to tromp around town asking my fellow entrepreneurs for sponsorships and donations. I would also have to make a speech at the big closing ceremonies.

Woofinstock weekend was going to be torture, and I frankly had no idea how I was going to pull it off without cloning myself. Aside from the speech, I was in charge of the Glimmerglass's espresso stand on the green. And I intended to hand out coupons and menus at every Woofinstock event I could get to. As Kerrie put it, my job was to "go out there and bring us back some business." But without electricity, there was no business to be had. And, even if Marguerite could help me, I was still petrified of dogs — and I was about to spend a weekend surrounded by them.

* * *

"But I don't hate dogs," I told Marguerite. "I really, really don't. I'm just scared of them. They're so unpredictable — and I get so nervous around them. When those little dogs swarmed me, I just ... I guess I freaked out."

Marguerite was quiet for a long moment. Then she said, "Do you like living here?"

That caught me off guard. "Sure. Of course I do."

"Then you're going to have to get over this dog phobia. Starting today. If you can't do that, then you should seriously think about moving away. You'd do just fine anywhere else in Kittias County — you just don't seem like a fit here."

I laid my hands flat on the counter, waiting for my heart to stop pounding. I loved Madrona. I could spend hours watching the gulls ride on the wind and the sailboats that filled the water with their sails on race days. This was where my best friend Kerrie was. The Glimmerglass, the café we'd built together four years ago, belonged in this town. Kerrie and the café had always been there for me — that was why it was so important that I get the lights turned back on, so we could give our business one last chance.

Besides, Madrona was a pretty little town, filled with lacy vine maples and old brick buildings. Six years ago, when I was twenty-two and fresh out of the University of Washington, I visited a friend here and fell in love with the place. When the rhododendrons bloomed in the spring, it was as if a rainbow ran through town. Madrona had exactly the small, homey feel I'd always longed for. I didn't want to move away.

But I couldn't deny the truth in what Marguerite said. Madrona was dog crazy, and I was dog phobic. The rest of Kittias County thought Madrona was off its rocker, even though our little town did really well with events like Woofinstock. When Madrona voted to let dogs enter into its shops and businesses, the county's animal control team went berserk, but there was nothing they could do. Madrona had chosen its identity, and it definitely had a wet nose.

"I love it here," I said softly. "I don't want to leave."

Marguerite folded her arms in front of her chest. "The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. You have to work on this. If you ignore it, your life will get smaller and smaller and smaller. Fear is like that. It will kill your life."


I'm hiding in the doghouse that belongs to the shiny dog, keeping my ears low. I've run everywhere today, but now I'm tired and hungry. So I'm taking a nap. Only things keep waking me up. First it was a cloud of leaves shaking on a tree, then it was a flower rolling across the ground in front of me. Then I thought I saw a dog! But it turned into an umbrella.

It's raining, and I like rain but people don't. A woman in clicking heels walks past me, hiding inside her coat. I stick my nose farther out the doghouse door and sniff, sniff, sniff as hard as I can. She smells friendly. Like a warm house. And she looks nice, though she's moving fast. But I'm faster. I slink out of the doghouse and trail behind her. Maybe she'll help me get home. Or feed me. Or dry me with a big fluffy towel.

She's heading toward a door, which makes me excited. I love doors! I hope she'll let me go inside with her. My parents might be behind that door. They like being inside. I like it in and out — both places.

We're almost to the door, her in front and me in back, when a big flash stings my eyes. I spin around, tuck my tail between my legs, and race back to the shiny doghouse.


I walked back across the square, my head hung low. The rain fell steadily, and I huddled inside my hood. How was I going to tell Kerrie the power might be off all day?

I was almost to the café when a searing flash blanketed the sky. The stormy grays around me blanched into overexposed pastels. I reeled as if someone had taken a flash picture right in front of my face. At almost the exact same time, thunder boomed, boxing my ears.

I ran without hearing or seeing. By sheer instinct, I raced straight to the café door. I wrenched it open and squeezed inside, panting hard.

Goose bumps covered my skin. I pressed my back to the door, then cautiously turned my head and looked back outside. The square was dark — strangely so for a late summer morning. There was no sign of lightning.

How odd.

I turned back around to the dark café and felt my heart sink. It was 8:20 in the morning and our lights were off — a café owner's worst nightmare. Someone had turned the sign on the front door to CLOSED. We usually had a nice morning coffee rush at about this time, but not today. We couldn't do much without electricity.

With a heavy sigh, I let the hush of the room pass through me, glad to see that at least the place was spotlessly clean. These sixteen hundred square feet felt more like home than my apartment. The café was split into two halves, divided by the front door and hostess station. To the left was the dining room, where fifteen oak tables sat empty, waiting for a rush that wasn't going to come. To the right, the espresso counter and pastry case held the cheaper, faster items that had been our best sellers lately. Except today, when even that was closed.

I shook myself out of my reverie and went in search of Kerrie, making a detour to the bathroom to splash some water on my face. Someone had lit candles in all the back rooms, and the light of one glowed from under the door. As I entered, I heard Naomi, our sous chef, talking on her cell phone. "Yeah, I don't know," she was saying. "It's sinking fast, that's for sure. They couldn't even pay the electric bill. The smart thing would be to look for another job now, while I still can ..."

She stopped midsentence when she saw me. "Uh, gotta go," she said, clicking her phone shut. We looked at each other, both feeling awkward.

I opened my mouth, then closed it again. I longed to reassure her, to tell her she was wrong, that the Glimmerglass was going to be around for the next hundred years and she'd always have a stable paycheck. But what could I say that was true? I didn't want to lie. It killed me to see my own employees worry like this. Naomi had two kids. She had rent to pay. School lunches to buy.


Excerpted from Dog Days by Elsa Watson. Copyright © 2012 Elsa Watson. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

From 1996 to 1998, Elsa Watson served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, where she began writing novels, all in longhand. She now lives on an island in Washington State with her husband, cat, and two dogs. Her short work has appeared in the Writers Journal, Snowy Egret, and Renaissance Magazine. Elsa is proud to live by the motto: any day on which you pet a dog is a good day.

From 1996 to 1998, Elsa Watson served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, where she began writing novels, all in longhand. She now lives on an island in Washington State with her husband, cat, and two dogs. Her short work has appeared in the Writers Journal, Snowy Egret, and Renaissance Magazine. Elsa is proud to live by the motto: any day on which you pet a dog is a good day. She is the author of novels including Dog Days and The Love Dog.

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Dog Days 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best new book ever.every one should this:)
suki12CG More than 1 year ago
Just reading the back of the cover made me want to read it. It is very funny and sweet. I liked it so much, I purchased it for myself and my best friend. It a great read for any dog lover. Definately a chick book. SukiCG
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you've ever stopped to wonder what your dog is thinking - or what it would do if it had thumbs - this is the book for you. Very light hearted, fun, and funny.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a laugh out loud summer read!!!!!! great for dog lovers
Marcie77 More than 1 year ago
John Steinback once said "I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts." I would say this statement is more true than not. In Dog Days by Elsa Watson this topic is explored when Jessica Sheldon switches bodies with a stray dog, Zoe. Jessica isn't known for her love of the canine species. She works hard at trying to run her failing restaurant. She's really stressed out with life in general. She can't even work up the courage to talk to her long time crush, Max. Zoe is lost. She doesn't remember much about how she got to be lost. She attaches herself to Jessica after she's rescued her from the dog catcher. Unfortunately while walking home they both get struck by lightening and when they both wake up they're in each other's body. This story is told from two points of view, Jessica and Zoe. I love that Watson made Zoe naive but also intelligent. Zoe doesn't have much of a filter. She says and does whatever she wants. She has to learn what it is to be human. Jessica is in a tougher bind. She's trapped in the body of a dog. She can't speak or communicate. This burden turns out to be a blessing. Jessica gets the opportunity to observe the people around her and it causes her to take a look at herself. She has to learn how to let go of the past and have some fun. Together Jessica and Zoe must learn to trust one another. Dog Days is like the canine version of Freak Friday. There are lessons to be learned, problems to let go, and an understanding to be made. This is a lighthearted, funny, and entertaining read. Animal lovers will adore this book. If you don't have a dog, you're probably going to go out and adopt one after you read this book.
SheilaCE More than 1 year ago
What would your dog say if it could talk? Well, Dog Days by Elsa Watson could give you a little insight on that with her hilarious romantic comedy.  Jessica isn’t a big fan of furry friends, but she does like the hot town vet and she must volunteer to help with the annual dog festival in order to save her restaurant. What she doesn’t see coming is just how closely she would be working with the dogs. A freak accident has Jessica and a white German Shepard named Zoe trading bodies and that’s when everything really does go to the dogs. This is the perfect summer read, especially if you love romance, comedy or animals. It’s sweet, thoughtful, fun, funny and poignant all at a fast pace. In a word; re-readable!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HA MADE U LOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)