Part voyeur, part dreamer, Nina Shepard, a Manhattan dog walker, has been around the block, so to speak, a few times and yearns to find that something -- or someone -- she can be passionate about. She may not have a boyfriend or a real purpose in life, but she does have a job that offers her one great opportunity: the keys to her clients' apartments. And with these keys, Nina has the freedom to cross several foyers -- and a moral boundary -- and gain access to their lives...where she just might find the things that are missing in her own.
Enter Daniel, a man she thinks she knows from snooping far past his doorway when she comes to pick up Sid, his Weimaraner. Except for owning a designer dog (rather than a stray from the pound), he seems perfect in every way. Now if only she could meet him.
For anyone else that might seem simple, but for Nina life is complicated. Claire, her best friend, is an actress who loses every audition due to nervous sweats. Bono, a sullen and sarcastic eight-year-old, is neglected by his U2 groupie mom, one of Nina's clients. Mrs. Chandler, her eccentric neighbor, would rather discuss Barry Bonds than why the IRS is hounding her. And Isaiah, Nina's ex-con dog-walking colleague, champions the rights of pit bulls. And, of course, there are the dogs themselves: Wallis and Edward, the spoiled dachsunds; Che, the stone-deaf beagle; Safire, the bulldog who stares at walls; and Nina's own beloved mutt Sam.
But it is Daniel who holds the key to Nina's heart. One moonlit night on a pier overlooking the Hudson River they are pulled into the treacherous waters of love. What she doesn't know is that Daniel is an imposter, pretending to be what he is not. And by the time she learns who he really is, after mishaps and mistaken identities, deception and lost dogs, it's too late. She's fallen for someone she never would have expected.
The Dog Walker is the hilarious and heartwarming story about one woman's quest for fulfillment. It is about city life -- any city, all cities -- and the struggle to make real connections. It is about allowing oneself to love fully while being fully oneself. And finally, it is about life itself: unpredictable, joyful, and not to be missed.
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December 31, 2003
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Excerpt from The Dog Walker by Leslie Schnur
Nina Shepard was in love with a man she'd never met. Perfect, she thought, as she relaxed in the bath she was taking on this sweltering afternoon. The notion made her laugh out loud with that throaty gust of hers. Normally, she couldn't care less about the irony-is-dead-or-not-dead argument, but now at least she knew which side she was on.
It was funny how she could know more about a man she'd never met than all the men she had met put together. She knew that he read books. Okay, so it was that trendy kind of real-life adventure-tragedy-on-Everest-in-Antarctica-in-Krakatoa-with-sharks-with-fire stuff. Sure, it was Dick Lit (a term Nina had coined in response to Chick Lit), but they were books, for god's sake, and not just the sports or business pages that many men considered "reading." She knew he listened to Mozart as well as Lenny Kravitz, neither her favorite, Mozart being totally overrated, and Lenny being just plain derivative and white-bread, but she appreciated the scope. That he periodically went to hear live jazz and even see a Broadway play now and then. She knew he had what seemed to be a nice relationship with his mom and dad. That he had a lovely dog, if she could excuse the fact -- and she could, but on this issue, it took some consideration -- that he hadn't gotten him at a shelter, but had bought him for who knows how much through a breeder. That he'd gone to Penn, that he worked for a high-powered corporate law firm, which gave her pause, the lawyer thing, but they paid him pretty goddamn good for a guy just turning thirty-two. That he liked to ski, to watch baseball on TV, to play poker every Wednesday night in a coed game. That he ran in Central Park five days a week and that his next vacation would be spent river-rafting down the Bio Bio in South America. That all that exercise gave him an outdoorsy look that was so appealing and sexy and masculine. That he had a singular nose. That he was a Democrat, and contributed generously to a variety of good, liberal causes from the ACLU to Coalition for the Homeless. That he was a non-practicing Catholic, though Christmas was important to him. Christ, he would begin his shopping in September, if he was to repeat what he did last year. He was that organized and thoughtful. He was her wish list, with only a couple minor infractions, personified.