Off the Leash book: The Secret Life of Dogs

If you’re a dog lover and spend any time on the interwebs, you have probably seen a comic or twelve by Rupert Fawcett.

Fawcett enters the minds and hearts of our canine companions and offers up their unique view of life in hand-drawn black-and-white snippets featured on his website and Facebook page.

Cartoon by Rupert Fawcett from his book Off the Leash, just released in the U.S.

Just like my house, only add cats.
Cartoon by Rupert Fawcett from his book Off the Leash, just released in the US.

The Secret Life of Dogs

Fawcett’s comics are spot on (couldn’t resist the pun) as anyone with a dog–or several–will tell you. It’s as if the London resident somehow transported himself into my living room–or bedroom–and performed a Vulcan mind meld with the pups of the house. His humor is just a little twisted–imagine if Gary Larson of the Far Side drew only dogs–and nearly alway elicit a groan of recognition, followed by an immediate urge to share with other dog-minded humans.

Here’s the kicker; Fawcett doesn’t have any dogs. Not a one. Though he lived with dogs–rescues–growing up, there’s no room in his current London apartment for pooches. So he gets his inspiration from everyone else’s dogs. His sister’s dog. His mom’s dog. His aunt and uncle’s dogs. His friends’ dogs. The dogs walking their people along the towpath by the Thames.

Fawcett is known in the UK for his wildly popular Fred comics, featuring an ordinary-looking bald fellow–like a stretched-out Ziggy–whose perspective and activities are just to the fun side of weird.

A keen observer of humans, Fawcett was people watching on the towpath by the Thames one day when he turned his eyes toward the dogs accompanying their humans. He began pondering what goes on inside a dog’s head, setting off his cartoonist’s imagination. He thought, “Maybe I’ll draw some and give them thought bubbles.”

Inspired by dogs and more dogs

At first, Fawcett drew on memories of the dogs he lived with as a boy: Sally and Nicky. As he posted his cartoons, his fans began sending him pictures of their dogs going about their doggy business. When Fawcett featured a cartoon of three dogs crowding a woman on a sofa, his fans responded: “That’s not enough dogs.” Soon he was drawing cartoons with six, seven, eight…a dozen dogs. Fawcett’s most popular cartoons show dogs covering every inch of a bed or a couch like a canine comforter, which any of us with multi-pet homes would laugh at and say that’s exactly right.

Fawcett posts his cartoons on his Facebook page, where he has nearly 700,000 followers–including yours truly. His fans post pictures of their dogs naturally doing the same things as the cartoonist drew.  It’s an adorable circle of art imitating life imitating art, notes Fawcett. “I’ve got such a responsive audience,” he says.

Cartoon by Rupert Fawcett from his book Off the Leash, just released in the U.S.

I swear Fawcett snuck into my bedroom.  I know my husband has seen a very similar pile of dogs surrounding me on the bed, with Jasper’s head on his pillow.
Cartoon by Rupert Fawcett from his book Off the Leash, just released in the US.

Off the Leash book is now available in the US

Now Fawcett has gathered a pack of his favorite drawings and put them in a book that has just been published here in the States.

In the pages of his book, you’ll find dogs that lick themselves, then cover their humans with puppy kisses; dogs checking off their to-do lists to make sure they’ve gotten everything done, including scratching, yawning, stretching and ripping up tissues; and a peek into puppy school classes where youngsters are taught the importance of destroying the newspaper before it’s read by humans.

Cartoon by Rupert Fawcett from his book Off the Leash, just released in the U.S.

Jasper, our 70-pound comfort hound, does this every time I’m on the couch. Followed by Tucker who finds a way to squeeze in next to us.
Cartoon by Rupert Fawcett from his book Off the Leash, just released in the U.S.

Most of the dogs in Off The Leash are not a recognizable breed; they look more like the variety of pups found at a shelter. That’s done on purpose, says Fawcett. He is a huge fan of rescue organizations; “They do great work,” he says.

Fawcett believes dogs are inherently funny. “The joke is about the dogs, as characters,” he says. It’s their very dogness that makes them amusing.

There’s plenty to laugh at in the book; every page elicits a giggle, a LOL or an outright guffaw. It’s more than that, though. “Dogs are joyful,” insists Fawcett–and that comes through in his drawings and captions.

What about cats?

While kitties appear rarely in an Off The Leash cartoon, a black cat is seen in every one of Fawcett’s Fred drawings. His name is Anthony, but he never has a speaking part, as far as I can tell. When asked if he’s ever had cats, a sheepish grin appears on Fawcett’s face. He has two Burmese kittens: Lulu and Percy. He’s looking forward to a time when he lives in a house and can add “a couple of puppies” to his fur family.

His deep connection with animals began when Fawcett was a youth. His brother, watching him show so much affection for one of their dogs, would tell him he was weird.

Thank goodness for that connection and that weirdness–because that’s what makes Fawcett’s cartoons so much fun.

Fantastic Off The Leash Giveaway exclusive to Life with Dogs and Cats Readers

Enter a giveaway to win an personally autographed copy of Rupert Fawcett's book Off The Leash and a signed print.

To celebrate the publishing of Rupert Fawcett’s book Off the Leash, we’re holding a giveaway. One very lucky reader will receive a personalized signed copy of his book, and a signed print of his cartoon shown above–the one with the dog squishing himself next to his human in a chair, and hoping she won’t notice.

Enter below to win!

The winner is Victoria Carter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received no money for this review; just a reviewer’s copy of the book. The opinions expressed here are my own.

27 Comments on "Off the Leash book: The Secret Life of Dogs"

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  1. We tell Mr. N he thinks he’s so funny all the time. He play bows to the kids during his therapy visits. And the other day, we were finishing up training and I was clearing up. He brought over his clicker and dropped it at my feet. He’s like no, I decide when we’re done!

  2. MOL! Love the comic with all of the dogs in the bed — “Yes? Can I help you?” Looks about like our bed!

  3. Patti says:

    I love reading and seeing all of your comics.
    So many of them remind me of my dog, Bella

  4. Emma says:

    I honestly don’t have a favorite. I’ve been a facebook fan for a long time and crack up at 95% of the cartoons because they are so true and funny, and often represent something at least one of us dogs do! The guy is a genius!

  5. meowmeowmans says:

    Wow, Rupert Fawcett is imaginative and insightful. And funny! This book looks wonderful … the boards you use as examples above made us laugh out loud. Love that he is a fan of shelter pets, too. 🙂

  6. Ruth Cox says:

    I am new to Off The Leash but know I am loving it! That ‘Yes? Can I help you?’ comic is too familiar!

  7. heather says:

    Our dog is obsessed with being under blankets. Bought her a new dog bed.. nope, rejected. Blankies forever.

  8. Shelley P says:

    My dog, Diamond, spends much of her day sitting up. She looks like a little gopher 🙂 It’s so adorable and funny.

  9. Looks like a fun book. I can identify with many of the cartoons….lol.

  10. Mr. Fawcett knows my dad, lol. He sometimes has to wrestle with me for a place in MY bed :o)

  11. Carolsue says:

    How funny! We used top have a 60# chocolate lab ALSO named Jasper and he did the exact same thing that dog in the cartoon above is doing — trying to climb onto your lap when you are sitting down.

  12. Sharon isley says:

    I have a calico kitty named Maisy. She lays across my laptop keys like its a bed! I get no work done!

  13. Therese PatchOPits Winer says:

    I can’t wait to get this book!

  14. Kitties Blue says:

    That bed looks like our humans’ bed; though, of course ours is covered with felines. Mommy has lots of doggie furiends who would enjoy this. XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  15. Jan K says:

    The one you showed with all the dogs piled on the bed and the hubby stand next to it has always been one of my favorites too. Only sometimes I’M the one standing next to the bed…LOL!

  16. I love “Off the Leash” cartoons! Bentley cracks us up when he sits up to talk to us. ☺

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