The intro to his column trumpets him as The Most Widely Read Advice Dog in America, and for once a journalist’s bark is matched by his bite. Okay, so he’s probably the only canine columnist in the country, but even if Ryan the Advice Dog—an 18-month-old black and white Boston terrier—had competition, he would still be leading the pack. Since August, Ryan’s column has appeared each Friday in the Miami News, offering the paper’s approximately 60,000 readers a unique brand of personal guidance that might drive Ann Landers absolutely bitchy. To “Bored Silly,” a woman whose husband “spends every weekend sprawled snoring on the sofa,” Ryan suggests treating him like a dog, i.e., “Pop him sharply several times on the behind with a rolled-up newspaper.” To “Furious Wife,” who caught her middle-aged spouse “practically pawing a 22-year-old woman,” Ryan replies, “Have you considered putting in a chain link fence?” Not that his own kind is ignored: Ryan devoted nearly a whole column to Miami’s best singles spots (mostly back alleys) for pooches.
How does a dog get his own column? Nepotism. Ryan lives in Key Biscayne with John Keasler, 66, a Miami News columnist. “I was damn sick and tired of writing five times a week,” says Keasler, who turned his Friday slot over to his hound. Keasler and his wife, Margery, a free-lance book editor, insist they give Ryan no help, except with his spelling. “He’s a lousy speller,” says Keasler. “Like many fine writers, detail work is not his forte.”
Attracting a following is. Response to Ryan has been so favorable that some readers want his column to run every day. “But running him once a week is all I can handle,” says Miami News editor Howard Kleinberg. “I’m getting calls from possums and pigs who want columns. We can’t go on this way.” Ryan has also inspired envy among his own animal family. “He’s talked to dogs who think they’d be great writers,” Keasler says deadpan, “if only they could get it on paper.”