Mark Barkawitz


An Accidental Love Story

When an accidentally DNA-altered puppy is born with a thumb, his lovelorn, grad-student caretaker devises a strategy to achieve their Kardashian-like fame and fortune.  But what goes up . . . must inevitably fall back down in this tale of unrequited love and 21st century celebrity.

Howlingly good fun!

20% of proceeds from book sales will be donated to the Pasadena Humane Society & the SPCA.


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. . . . But when we exited the front doors of the Malibu Sheriffs’ Station, the paparazzi and their cameras were waiting.  I tried to hide my face, as Marla pushed us through the cycloptic mob and into her BMW at the curb, where I continued to hide in the crook of my arm until she drove us away on scenic Pacific Coast Highway past multi-million-dollar homes with an occasional restaurant carved into the meandering coastline.

“You okay?” she asked.

I pretended to laugh, then admitted: “No!”

“I’ll get it straightened out.  Calm down.  Don’t worry, Marty.”

She looked over at me from behind her Calvin Klein sunglasses.  I couldn’t see her brown eyes—but just the same—felt a whole lot better for having her on my side.

“You hungry?” she asked, turning inland off PCH onto Sunset Boulevard. “There’s a good deli up ahead.”

I was starved—hadn’t eaten a thing since breakfast (apparently, I’d missed lunch at the jail)—but we had to pick up my dogs before the shelter closed.

“We’d better hurry then,” she said and pushed the accelerator.  “You owe me a rain-check if we make it.”

Marla negotiated the BMW 428-i through cross-town, rush-hour traffic via a series of winding streets—she knew the area well—and got us to the animal shelter with ten minutes to spare.  Unfortunately, the paparazzi were already waiting there, too.

“Not again,” I lamented.

“Predictable.  Solo’s the star.  Duck down.”

I did so as Marla drove past.  As I peeked back over the seat, she explained:

“There’s an employee entrance around back.” Before I could ask how she knew, she explained: “I got my cat as a rescue here a couple years ago.”

And sure enough, we were able to park in the employee lot around back and enter through the employee entrance door without being seen.  I sure owed her all right.  We picked up the dogs—Solo signed himself out—and Marla dropped us off at my place.

“Please try to stay out of trouble, Marty,” she advised.

I agreed.  “Thanks, Marla.  You’re the best.”

Unfortunately, trouble had a way of finding me these days!

The dogs and I made all the local newscasts that night.  CUT TO: an overhead shot from the news-copters of me on my belly on the side of the freeway, hands behind my head, as the two cops approach, guns drawn, freeway traffic stopped.  CUT TO: my Porsche crashed in the ditch with Solo in the driver’s seat behind inflated airbags, Joy with her tennis ball in back.  CUT TO: Marla leading me out of the Malibu Sheriffs’ Station surrounded by picture-popping paparazzi.


I got a rental car the next day while our Porsche was being repaired.  It must’ve been a slow news day because Marla and I were pictured leaving the Sherriff’s station on the front page of the Times down at the bottom under the headline, “Dog Actor’s Handler Arrested,” with most of the story continued on page A-35.  “Dog Actor Crashes Car” started trending on internet searches.  And my qualifications as parent were questioned in the tabloids: “Is Solo’s Handler Competent?” and “Court-Ordered Guardianship Next for Solo?”

A couple days later, I stepped outside in my soft-as-kitten’s-fur, Armani bathrobe and Hang-Ten slip-ons to pick up the morning newspaper from our dew-soaked lawn.  God only knew who’d be editorializing about us—me—today, another unsettling side of celebrity.  Solo was lucky he couldn’t read!

A somewhat familiar-looking jogger in T-shirt and running shorts approached.  He held something in one hand like a baton, which he handed-off—surprisingly—to me as he passed, then looked back over his shoulder, and without stopping, called back to inform me:

“You’re served!”

Served?  Son-of-a–!”  Him again!

As the sprinting document server disappeared around the corner, I unrolled another manila envelope from the Los Angeles County Courthouse.

The next day in Marla’s office, Solo, Joy Baby (sans her tennis ball), and yours truly sat across the large conference table from Allison—my Ex-roommate/girlfriend—with her lawyer, who . . .

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