Never Left Behind

     And here we have once more another dog salvation book and how their presence would rescue yet another human.  Contrary and further from the truth, after thirty years toiling in kitchens entrapped within their cinder-block walls, fourteen hours a day, it would take a four-legged fury creature accompanied by a bitter divorce that would lead me to ultimately question my path in life and how we choose to treat animals.  Feeding tens of thousands of people in some of the most derelict kitchens, decades would pass while once a job to pay bills would eventually become a career as a chef only to question my path once faced with losing my companion forever. 

     Through research in my own case, and the overwhelming support received, I was appalled by the enormity of suffering and abuse prevalent while conveniently hidden.  So much, that it would haunt my in-actions, stir my inner emotions, and paralyze my thoughts to an obsession.  Upon opening this Pandora's Box, brought to light that connection that I had always felt for animals and direction in my life needed at the time.  Not enough to idly stand aside until my own issues were resolved, I would ultimately choose to put down my kitchen knives after thirty-odd years, come to terms with my age, and satisfy that urgency and opportunity provided, that I must give back, or at the very least save a life or two. 

     A cliche and familiar story for many of us; forgetting to stop and smell the roses while enjoying the little things that life has to offer.  Rarely when someone is on their death bed will you hear them profess to wishing they would have spent more time at the office.  I would be reminded of these passages thirty years later and only after selling my restaurant, going through an arduous divorce and losing my Labrador Retriever. It would take losing my best friend that would ultimately cause me to question my next choice of direction in life.

Special Thank You to Jessica A. Vaillancourt for her unmatched editing skills  

Dog House Publishing

ISBN 978-0-578-55499-0 

Due October 2019

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Sample passages


     In the spring, not on any trail but hidden hundreds of yards away from view, few people knew about the rolling hills of bluebells.  Catching my breath the first time I happened upon them.  Acres upon acres of undisturbed bluish-purple English bluebells masterfully hidden from view, not to be disturbed; their brief, elusive moment when in full bloom.  Pepper, always leading and shorter than the perennials, would be lost had it not been for the shaking flower bulbs consuming his body, as we carefully navigated through the masterpiece.  Similarly both amusing, and breathtaking. 

      "I was oblivious to what had happened, nor had I noticed the bullet having entered his body, penetrating his back and into his spine.  His auburn hair masking the blood around the entry.  I recall mom coming out of the house saying he had been shot, probably with a farmer’s bullet from a .22 long rifle.  Any larger caliber certainly would have killed him." 

    We came upon dried streams, no larger than small puddles, with dozens of fish squirming and fighting to survive.  As if he understood, Pepper, crouched over and scratching at the dirt, watched intently as I scooped as many as possible into an old milk jug and brought them to a larger stream for survival.  Regularly, we would stumble across carcasses of various animals that had succumbed to an untimely death.  Be it age, the elements, or injury.  On other occasions we would witness herds of mule deer grazing off the forest bed, their bodies shrouded in a haze of fog from over the lush green forest bed; a photogenic scene.  On sunny days, penetrating the highest of trees, streams of brilliant rainbow light beams filled with pigments and particles of dust danced in the brilliance from 100 feet up.  Trees undoubtedly a century old, as round and broad as a car at their trunks’ base, with curvatures and deep wood-crevices inches deep.  I would find myself mesmerized by these mundane observations, had I not understood the verity of where my life was at the time. 

early reviews and beta readers

 "I cheated and had to go to the end of the book to find out what happened.  Excellent Read!"      ~ Beta Read ~

"Very similar to Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential.  Great kitchen anecdotes, oh, and the dog!"  "Amazing." ~ Good Reads ~

"Another dog book?  I shudder.  Was pleasantly surprised with a good read, a "true" story about a man losing his dog." ~ Writers World ~  

Paul Barthel had this to say

"I had to put the book away on several occasions, many times for months on end.  In addition to many unfortunate deaths in the family causing delay, the writing process, while rather easy, became arduous revisiting many of those moments putting pen to paper so to speak.  I only wish Pepper could read"


About the Author

Paul Barthel,  A Chef entrepreneur and restaurant owner who worked behind the scenes in kitchens for over thirty years.  Animal rights advocate who pushed to establish an Illinois law recognizing pets in divorce or separation.

Currently pursuing Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio further establish an identical law in addition to puppy mill legislation, and furthered anti-cruelty measures.  Currently working on his second publication.

Editor, Jessica A. Vaillancourt