I’m Not Single, I Have a Dog – Dating Tales from the Bark Side by Susan Hartzler – Book Review

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If you are a dog lover, if you cherish your friends and they are always there for you, if you’ve loved and lost, or if your “Mr. Right was Mr. Wrong, but you forged ahead despite the challenges, you will love this book.  Be prepared to read it in one sitting.

Susan Hartzler has written a book that speaks to me as it will to so many others.  I fell in love with her as soon as I realized her mission in life was to always have dogs by her side.

When I called and spoke with Susan,we had a delightful conversation. I told her that when my father died, I found it difficult to cry.  I tried, even when we were choosing the coffin where he would be laid to rest.  I tried to cry at the funeral, when the family sat ‘shiva’ (the gathering of friends and family at your home to honor your loved one) and when they lowered the casket into the ground, as I picked up the shovel to put dirt on my dad’s casket – (a ritual in Judaism), I couldn’t cry.  I was embarrassed.  Here are so many people on sacred ground honoring my father and his own daughter couldn’t cry.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF SUSAN HARTZLER

Then, several months later, my dog Josh died after being on this earth for 16 years.  I cried so hard it was difficult to get up in the mornings. It was hard to catch my breath.   What did it say about me?  My father did abuse me but still, he is my father.  But my dog, he was my child.  I already had 2 real human kids, but Josh was the one thing I could count on; he was always there.  The poor thing ate the same food every day for sixteen years and never complained.  My real human kids complained if we had leftovers. If you can relate, “I’m not Single, I have a Dog – Dating Tales from the Bark Side, is THE book for you.

As I sit here, during this pandemic, I watch my own fourteen-year-old golden lay down on the carpet, as she can no longer walk on floors.  My house looks like a carpet showroom with rugs placed everywhere so my Julia doesn’t fall. I recently had a conversation with Julia about how much I would not like her to die yet.  I’m not ready to sit Shiva for her.

Ms. Hartzler’s book touched me in so many ways, I laughed even when I was supposed to cry.  I cried even when I was supposed to laugh.  I talked to the book when I came to parts that shocked me, as when Ms. Hartzler lost her best friend who was on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. 

PHOTO: COURTESY OF SUSAN HARTZLER

This wonderfully-talented writer brings us through her life as a single woman trekking through the ugly world of dating, the pressures of meeting goals at work, caring for a parent with Parkinson’s/Dementia, caring for a boyfriend who almost died in a car accident, caring for another boyfriend who had serious drug and drinking issues plus the other uphill challenges that come with life.

We then follow Susan as she learns to care for herself.  With the love and help of her canine companions, we will feel as if we are at the finish line of her long hard race.  But finish, she does. 

Yes, Susan, as you stated in your book, you made it to your sixties without getting married and having children, unless you count your dogs.  Your dogs ARE your children.  And as many surveys ask, ‘how much money would it take to give your dog away?”  There isn’t enough money in the world, my friend.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF SUSAN HARTZLER

p.s. My husband once drew a hierarchy of our family.  The top of the ladder holds one ‘person,’ I swear, to this day, he really wanted to put my dog Julia on top instead of me.

Author Susan Hartzler shares her own personal journey to find Mr. Right inviting readers to follow her through life’s many ups and downs on her way to finding unconditional love. The book begins on a purposeful trip to the pound where she hopes to find a dog to care for — one that will sniff out the bad guys. Susan’s personal journey is full of the hard decisions it took to learn to put herself first and stop entering and staying in unhealthy relationships.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF SUSAN HARTZLER


Susan might not have found a man, but she finds her dog, giving her a sense of purpose and helping her discover meaning in her crazy world. By saving a dog, she rescues herself, loving herself as much as her dog loves her. After all, there is no love like dog love. It can change your life forever, completing you with unconditional love.


This book is already receiving rave reviews, like this one from the Santa Barbara News-Press, and has been selected by Modern Dog Magazine to be part of Connie’s Book Club.   I’m Not Single, I Have a Dog: Dating Tales From The Bark Side is available at McFarland Publishers, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other fine booksellers. For more information, visit www.susanhartzler.com.

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