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Nose Down, Eyes Up

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At forty-seven, Gil is the world’s oldest twenty-two-year-old man, living in relative contentment with his four dogs, including the alpha, Jimmy. When he stumbles upon Jimmy delivering lectures on canine manipulative techniques to the rest of the dogs in the neighborhood, Gil’s not particularly surprised, and his eyes light up with dollar signs. But their money-making venture has barely begun when chatty canine Jimmy realizes the shocking truth: He’s adopted. And not only is Gil not his real father, they’re not even the same species. In the identity crisis that ensues, Gil hears the last thing he wants his favorite dog to say: Jimmy wants to be reunited with his birth mother, a bitch owned by Gil’s sexy ex-wife, now remarried and living in Malibu. Could things get worse? Apparently, yes.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2008

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About the author

Merrill Markoe

23 books140 followers
An author, a television writer and a sometime standup comedienne.

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5 stars
199 (18%)
4 stars
288 (27%)
3 stars
341 (32%)
2 stars
167 (15%)
1 star
53 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 199 reviews
Profile Image for Claire M..
Author 5 books32 followers
March 6, 2009
Wow, what a disappointment from an author I really, really like. With an ingenious idea first introduced in her previous book, I was so ready to love this book. Love this book forever. Yes, it was funny (this woman can't help but write funny), but the protagonist was so morally bankrupt that I couldn't in any way be sympathetic to him. He is a lying skank, who is only honest and loving with his dogs. In fact, the novel is populated with some very, very ugly people, and, unfortunately, I count the protagonist as one of them. Yes, it is extremely difficult to write a character with warts that remains sympathetic, but she pushed this character too far. In an attempt to take some of the dross off of his character, she makes the truly nice people in the novel objects of his scorn. What ends up happening is that the reader doesn't like ANY of these characters, with the exception of the dogs. I kept wincing as this jerk kept piling on the lies. After a certain point, these lies were pointless or so self-serving that his abrupt epiphany at the end of the book seemed out of nowhere. This protagonist was surfing very close to the edge of being a sociopath as far as I was concerned, so the resolution of the novel felt forced. This book (as so many others I've read recently) desperately needed an editor. Markoe's humor often walks the line, and an editor would have kept her ON that line, as opposed to what we have here, which is someone who has tumbled over the line and the humor starts to become mean-spirited and more mockery than anything else.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Erik Tanouye.
Author 2 books6 followers
March 11, 2017
Bought this new at the Madison Square Garden Borders when they were going out of business.
Profile Image for Lori Whitwam.
Author 7 books156 followers
February 2, 2009
If you can suspend your disbelief and accept that Gil can hear dogs talking, you'll enjoy this book.

One day, he hears his dog, Jimmy, giving a class to his three other dogs and dogs from the neighborhood about how to get their people to do what they want, including a session on "edible or inedible."

Jimmy soon discovers, to his horror, that he's not Gil's biological son, and asks to be introduced to his birth mother and siblings, who unfortunately live with Gil's ex-wife and her new husband. (And she's got some ideas regarding getting her paws on Gil again)

Temporarily displaced from his work/home, Gil ends up staying in her guest house, supposedly to remodel it.

His girlfriend, Sara, is an animal communicator, and the dogs laugh at her because she gets it totally wrong every time.

Funny, enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Patricia Ponder.
106 reviews
November 27, 2017
Markoe's female characters, from girlfriends to ex-wives to mothers -- are self-absorbed, annoying, and awful. There are no exceptions, beyond the possible love interest alluded to for the next book. I would be surprised if that one didn't start out with the male protagonist already enumerating her flaws. Since I don't plan to read more of Markoe's books, I will mericifully never know.
Profile Image for Amanda.
57 reviews3 followers
October 26, 2010
When Gil stumbles upon his alpha dachshund Jimmy lecturing the neighborhood dogs on canine manipulation techniques, his life is profoundly changed. That is, if you consider Gil's first instinct to exploit his newfound knowledge by starting a pet blog to kick-off the sale of silk-screened T-shirts a profound revelation. The only redeeming quality about 47-year-old, bitterly divorced, layabout Gil is that he understands his dogs far better than the women in his life. If not for the laugh-out-loud dialogue between Gil and his four dogs, Jimmy, Cheney, Fruity, and Dinky, this book would possess little redeeming value.

As an animal lover and a dog owner, I found the first section of the book containing the interaction between Gil and his dogs both heartwarming and hilarious. I laughed out loud during several moments. But then, illustrating a dog's personality is going to be humorous no matter how you write it. However, despite the truly enjoyable first part of the book, including such memorable pearls of canine wisdom as "Is it pee inside, poo inside?" and "Everything can be eaten", the story suffers from an unfortunate overload of dislikable, shallow, greedy, and selfish cast of human characters that sour the latter plot, which focuses more heavily on human than canine antics--predictably Gil's trouble with women.

Drama starts when Gil accidentally runs into his sexy ex-wife at a convenient store while collecting a six-pack for beer-thirty--a longtime tradition for the lately-out-of-work, blue-collar handyman who conveniently lives in the empty summerhouse of rich retirees in exchange for household maintenance. Startled by the encounter with the woman who cleaned out his bank account during their divorce five years ago, Gil succumbs to Eden's overly enthusiastic greeting by giving her his phone number.

When Gil's cunning canine manipulator Jimmy discovers the shocking family secret that Gil is not his biological father, his traumatized reaction (sprinkled with a heavy dose of "nose down, eyes up") persuades a reluctant Gil to call his ex-wife and owner of Jimmy's mother Gypsy to facilitate a reunion between mother and son. Meanwhile, his landlords call unexpectedly to announce their return to the summerhouse, which forces Gil to vacate the premises and move in--grudgingly--with his well-intentioned albeit clueless "animal communicator" girlfriend Sara, whose recent desire to deepen their relationship is rubbing commitment-phobic Gil the wrong way.

Predictably, Gil begins an affair with his vain and horny ex-wife Eden under her rich husband's nose after accepting Eden's carpentry job offer to fix-up the guest house. Tack on the undercover P.I. Eden's husband has hired to spy on her who blackmails Gil, and his troubles are only beginning. Meanwhile, friction with his suspicious girlfriend Sara exacerbates Gil's stress over the affair, which he spends the majority of the novel complaining about. In fact, a large extent of Gil's dialogue had a tendency toward crudeness, which grows tiresome to read. Readers who don't enjoy frank discussions of sex or profanity may find themselves horrified by some of the saltier scenes Gil details while en flagrante delicto with Eden or Sara. When Gil moves into the guest house is about the time when the story shifts focus and the dogs take a backseat to Gil's screwed-up love life after Jimmy decides he prefers the company of his canine family to Gil. (No big surprise there.)

It was difficult to get through the second half of the story once the dogs lost the limelight and the humor alternated from doggie frolic to sexual shenanigans, but the ending is, if not the most desirable, at least realistic. Gil's soujourn to visit his mother as a way of avoiding Sara seemed an unnecessary diversion from the main story to illustrate Gil's contemptible personality as he complains about his family, particularly his mother, and picks up a sexy high-school classmate for a one-night-stand. Returning home at the onset of the California wildfires separates Gil from Jimmy when he can't get to the guest house to rescue him.

I hesitate to recommend this book because overall, it really isn't a very good story. Yes, parts of it are funny, but the overly long detour from Gil's interaction with his dogs to Gil's deplorable behavior as he selfishly manipulates the women in his life cannot maintain the same vein of light-hearted humor. Perhaps the author intended to compare human vs. canine manipulation by shifting the focus of the story, but the contrast does not make for very gratifying reading.

That being said, if you're an animal lover and don't mind stories with contemptible characters committing depressing acts of betrayal merely as a literary device for situational humor, then you will probably enjoy this story. It IS funny, at least the first half, though I doubt I will buy another book by this author given the cynical depiction of human interpersonal relationships that is such a big focus in the story.

Bottom line: there are better dog books out there.
Profile Image for Daniela.
212 reviews34 followers
February 4, 2020
Gil was the most infuriating characters that I've ever read about, I love dogs and that is why I find myself picking up a book with dogs in the cover, and then when you read that the main character one day stumbles into his dog delivering lectures to the other dogs of the neighborhood I just figured this was going to be a light silly read, but no no no, this story had no point what so ever, it was just a 47 year old acting like a horny 16 year old!


This dude was the worst! The worst at being in a relationship, the worst pet owner, and the worst decent person ever, the entire book he just kept making a fool out of Sarah, from the very beginning when they have a big fight as soon as he thinks that things between them are over he says "I want her back", then he keeps cheating on her and complaining that she is a nice human, then at the very very end when he sees her with another man, he suddenly realizes how much he loves her and lets her know it, then she calls back the very next day and now he doesn't want her anymore, like what the hell is wrong with you dude?!
And then we have the reason I almost gave it 1 star (edit: I gave it 1 star 😬) and I was filled with anxiety for the last couple of chapters, he is the WORST pet owner ever! I mean, the book was supposed to be about the bond between him and his dogs and let me tell you that it was NOT!, he let them everywhere whenever and with whomever, I wasn't even half way through it and the dogs stopped been relevant, and the cause of my anxiety was that he almost let his favorite dogs burn to death on an a house by himself, just because once again he "couldn't" control himself when he had minimal interaction with a woman, so if you still want to read this book, you've been warned and good luck.
Profile Image for Jenny.
38 reviews1 follower
April 20, 2009
This book had higher reviews on amazon than it should have! It started off extremely amusing when Jimmy began talking to the neighborhood dogs. There was so much potential for canine chaos. But instead, this book became much more about Gil, when it gives the impression that it's going to be just about dogs. Also, the "voices" of the dogs weren't very creative. While I agree that little dogs like Dink probably DO say "I love you I love you I love you," it made her, Fruity and Cheney extremely one-dimensional in their own little ways. Jimmy was at least an interesting alpha dog, and while I enjoyed the tense plot near the end of the book involving Jimmy and his family, I was pretty disappointed in the rest of the book's characters. They all seem very one-dimensional and the dialogue isn't distinct or even remotely interesting. This seemed reminiscient, though not quite as clever/witty as Duck Duck Wally. My apologies to the author...better luck next time?
Profile Image for Laura.
58 reviews
January 22, 2009
Fun ideas about what dogs may really be thinking. A fast read probably best saved for vacation.
Profile Image for Linda.
355 reviews4 followers
January 26, 2020
I added this book to my to-read list eons ago and finally got an audio version to listen to as I drove to and from work assignments. I don't remember what originally attracted me to it, probably that one of the major characters was a dog. So, in essence this is a coming of age story, of an adult - figuring out what it means to love, how to negotiate relationships, and how to be an adult, and a little bit of karmic retribution thrown in for fun, along with something of a dog's view of the same. For the most part, I enjoyed the story, though I wasn't crazy about the degree of manipulation Jimmy employed, the stereotyping of the dog's personalities, and the stereotyping that men are largely led around by the Id and their penis.
Profile Image for L Y N N.
1,260 reviews70 followers
May 12, 2019
This book did make me laugh sometimes. However, upon finishing it, my main thought was that I couldn’t believe an adult female wrote this. The protagonist was such a “typical” brainless adolescent male stuck in a 47-year-old body. I did NOT find that to be the least bit humorous. A man who heedlessly jumps from relationship to relationship and can only think of females in terms of sex. Yeah, not funny... All too common in this world.

I did appreciate the dogs’ thoughts and opinions. However, reading one of this woman’s books was enough. I have removed the other book by Merrell that I had on my TBR listing. Though this cover image was cute!
1,248 reviews1 follower
February 4, 2023
This sounds like a cute book...but really it is filled with unlikeable human characters. Gil, the main character somehow realizes he can understand when his dogs talk. (How/why is never explained.) His dog Jimmy, who he has had since a pup is devastated to learn that they are not blood related, that he is adopted and demands to meet his biological birth mom. Who just happens to belong to Gil's ex wife. Do you see where this is going? Gil is nothing but a scumbum, thinking only with a different part of his body than his head. I only finished it to see what happened to the dogs.
1,087 reviews
September 21, 2020
Everything regarding the dogs was funny, entertaining and kept me reading. Everything about Gil's life had the opposite effect. I sometimes just wanted to skim through the "adult" situations so that I could get to the dogs again. I think Markoe is a gifted writer if writing through the eyes of a dog (though I tended to disagree with some of it). It was humorous and sometimes seemingly right on target, but when writing about a 47 year old man, I've read better.
3 reviews
June 6, 2021
Chosen by my book club even my love for dogs could not diminish my disgust for the narrator. While there are events and a timeline, the main character is such a jerk (Dave?) that even his dogs' devotion couldn't redeem the story. Strong writing, vivid characters and clever insights drift along with no universal lesson or theme to make putting up with him worth the time... though you do fall in love with some of the dogs...
Profile Image for Paula.
299 reviews16 followers
September 23, 2017
Ms. Markoe firmly and successfully places a dog's behavior and attitudes within the context of a hugely funny story. Family and relationship dynamics play well. We pity Gil at times, but I think most of all, we identify. Conversations with canines come off as some of the best.
"Beer-thirty," indeed.
Profile Image for Bridget.
901 reviews2 followers
August 5, 2019
I can’t say much because it could lead to spoilers. The main character was the epitome of every bad boyfriend you’ve ever read about. I had to peek at the end to see if he seemed any more likable or I wouldn’t have finished it. Ended up seeing something about the dog that made me keep reading, instead.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
Author 1 book3 followers
August 12, 2018
Fun summer read!

Light and fluffy for most of it, and excellent tension building. The characters are wonderful! Perfect for people who love dogs.
191 reviews
December 21, 2018
For everyone who swears their dog knows exactly what they are saying and wishes they could talk to them!
Profile Image for Peggy Coquet.
72 reviews10 followers
January 28, 2021
There are things I love about this book, but they don't include the main character. He redeems himself, eventually, but it takes a while. Meantime, readers can enjoy the pups and their helpful ways!
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
4 reviews
October 28, 2021
Charming. Soothes my puppy-starved soul.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Megan Trempe.
313 reviews2 followers
June 6, 2022
While this book was cute and funny and loved the dogs perspective, I disliked the male owners life choices. Very boring... blahh.
Profile Image for Janice Workman.
284 reviews
October 5, 2016
I didn't identify with any of the characters - not even the dogs! I loved "Turning in Circles", so thought this would be great - but grew tired of the repetitive language, plot and such.
42 reviews
August 2, 2012
Nose Down, Eyes Up follows the rather hilarious episodes of Gil and his four loyal dogs Cheney, Dink, Fruity, and the alpha, Jimmy. At first, life is pretty good, but when Gil stumbles across Jimmy lecturing other dogs in the nieghborhood on ways to manipulate their humans, things take a turn for the worse. Gil tries to exploit Jimmy and his advice in order to fill his selfish needs; he ruins his relationship with his current girlfriend; and somewhere along the way, Jimmy finds out that not only are he and Gil not actually related, but they aren't even the same species. In the following identity crisis, Jimmy wants nothing more than to reconnect with his birthmother, a dog owned by Gil's glamourous, scheming, and incredibly sexy ex-wife--and things only continue to fall downhill from there...

When I first picked up this book, just readinig the summary on the back cover gave me the giggles: I mean c'mon, a dog who can talk and finds out that his "Dad" isn't even the same species? This has to be a humorous book, and for the most part, it is. Even when Gil was at his lowest, Markoe always found a way to lighten the mood. Usually that involved a very clueless and awfully cute comment from one of the dogs. But anyway, it was funny.

One thing that kind of bothered me though, was the fact that Gil's little escapades were often incredibly over-exaggerated. I know it was probably meant to be funny, or maybe it just really was meant ot be incredibly over-exaggerated--I don't know. But it made the characters seem a little less realistic, a little less relatable, and thus, incredibly more annoying. I especially found that it was mainly the women who were highly exaggerated and overbearing, which I didn't find appealing at all...

Also, it really surprised me how much sex was in the book. I just wasn't expecting so much of it. Luckily, it wasn't excruciatingly detailed, but it was a lot more than I anticipated (I hadn't anticipated any sex at all, actually). Granted, I'm not the kind that is absolutely disgusted by it (it's only human nature) I was just suprised is all. But don't let that stop you from reading it; honestly, it wasn't that bad, it was more suggestive than anything. So, you should be fine.

Otherwise, it was a fun read. There was never a dull moment, and Gil's dogs always kept me laughing (especially Dink, who always confuses peeing outside with peeing inside!) I would recommend it as an easy read, just something to lighten the day a little. But I must say, this is isn't a book I'm looking forward to reading again...
171 reviews
March 26, 2016
In his 40s, Gil is a typical single male still trying to live as though in his 20s. His current residence in California belongs to his employer. Gil is in construction. Thanks to his girlfriend, Sara, Gil owns 3 rescued dogs: Dink, Fruity & Cheney. He also has Jimmy, a dog Gil raised from a pup.
Gil begins to hear the dogs talking, particularly Jimmy with whom he's the closest. This is when Jimmy discovers he is adopted and demands to meet his actual family who just happens to live with Gil's ex-wife. Gil is not fond of this idea since his ex took him for every penny despite the fact that she was cheating. But, Gil finally agrees. The meeting goes so well for Jimmy that he refuses to leave. Gil is then offered work by the ex's new husband. The situation is perfectly timed as Gil is currently homeless since his employer returned to the vacation home Gil lived in. However, Eden, the ex, has an ulterior motive and seduces Gil. The Husband hires a detective who discovers the affair and blackmails Gil, taking all of his savings...again thanks to Eden. Gil leaves before anything more can happen but Jimmy refuses to leave. While it breaks Gil's heart, he leaves Jimmy behind.
The demise of the marriage and oncoming wildfires leave Jimmy stranded at the house so Gil can come to retrieve him. Due to Gil's libido, he arrives too late and is unable to retrieve Jimmy, fearing he has perished in the fires. The house is in ruins. After a few days, Jimmy is discovered at the kennel where the husband took the rest of Jimmy's family for safety from the wildfires. Jimmy had been mistaken for his brother who had been left instead at the home. Eden had quickly returned to retrieve some of her belongings and discovered the dog. Jimmy decides that perhaps being with family isn't all it's cracked up to be and returns home with Gil. Gil has supposedly learned from all of this, too, until he contacts Jimmy's groomer...
Profile Image for Michael.
427 reviews4 followers
July 5, 2010
I picked this up to read because I enjoyed "The Art of Racing in the Rain" so much. This was not as good but still fairly entertaining. The story involves a handyman, Gil who has four dogs with who he engages in conversations. I got the feeling the conversations were perceived rather than vocalized. Gil is able to read his dogs feelings by their expressions and his intuition. His alpha dog, Jimmy, is pretty wise to human behavior and is teaching the other dogs tricks to get their way , hence, nose down, eyes up. Gil is a handyman, living with his girlfriend, Sara, who is somewhat of a New Age dog whisperer but oddly they seem to interpret their dogs conversations in opposite manner along the line of what they want to hear. Complicating matters is Gil's ex-wife, Eden who took everything he had and remarried a wealthy man, Chad. She still has a thing for Gil and manages to get him into difficulties with Sara. Also, Jimmy finds out his real mother still lives with Eden and wants to meet her. The other dogs also have some comical behavior habits such as Dink, who cannot figure out whether she is supposed to "go" inside or out and for that matter doesn't know the difference and Cheney who lives to chase things that humans throw.
All of this is not very serious stuff, but is amusing to follow the comical situations all the characters seem to get into.
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