The Dog Who Was There

The Dog Who Was There

The Dog Who Was There (Thomas Nelson, January 2017)

No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah.

He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.

Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.

Learn more and purchase a copy.


  • The novel had an interesting story. However, I found the book very boring and dragged on towards the middle. The ending was heart felt and inspiring but the novel had more gruel and pain, then I thought was necessary. A decent story but I

  • I loved it. I really loved it. At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like the simplistic writing style. But after all, the story is told through the eyes of a dog. And the author does a good job of sticking with Barley’s point of view for the most part. Occasionally he threw in part of scene that came more from a human’s point of view. But the majority of the book is written through Barley’s eyes.

  • Ron Marasco’s The Dog Who Was There takes the reader on a journey back to Jerusalem during the time of Christ. What makes the novel extraordinary is its telling from the perspective of a dog named Barley. One would not imagine that the musings of a fictional puppy could invoke such emotions, but they do. Kleenex is a must!

  • Barley is an onlooker on something bigger than himself. A great story about our Savior seen through the eyes of a dog.

  • I started this book with mixed feelings. However, I did enjoy this book, but the feelings that I had while reading it were quite surprising. . . . In fact, at times I could have cried at the beautiful message that was presented by this author. This would be a wonderful book to read during a time of reflection. I give it five stars.

  • Ron Marasco has presented an interesting twist on the story of the Jesus’ crucifixion in the novel “The Dog Who Was There.” I particularly like the twist in the story for the ending. Very unexpected!!

  • What a story this was to read and share. I couldn’t imagine a more interesting view point to have read through. Barley touched my heart in so many ways, and I was drawn to his views of Christ. Life wasn’t easy for Barley but he sure kept a pretty optimistic outlook on life. I wish to strive more for that. This a book for readers of faith filled stories, animal lovers and those needing a warming to their souls.

  • Following 31 says:

    I absolutely devoured every page of this masterfully written novel. Every page read kept me moving ahead to “see what happens next”. I have passed my copy down to my teenage daughter. She loves animals and she loves Jesus. There is nothing in the book to which I object but everything to which I think she needs to read.

  • This novel got off to a bit of a slow start but by the end it turned out to be a very good story. It provides a new way to see the time of Jesus. I was a little unprepared for the violence in the novel, but it was a violent time. This would be a good novel to read during Lent.

  • Wow what a touching story this is. I didn’t think at first I was going to like it but it surprised me. I was humbly touched by this story and I had some tears as well.

    A very well written story and a great job on the details. I loved reading this heartwarming tale.

    Definitely recommend to Christian Readers. This will touch your heart.

  • This book puts the well known story in an easy and interesting way to understand, even for children. You not only get a story of love, forgiveness but you see the greatest story ever told in a different way. You get a different outlook on what happens during the journey to Golgotha and what happens along the way. Your heart will at times be very sad and there may be a tear trickle down your cheek.

  • Stories or films featuring animals aren’t normally my thing. Not that I don’t like animals, but I prefer other genres. The Dog Who Was There is an exception to the rule. The story is told from a canine’s point-of-view but it’s well written and brought out such strong emotions in me.

  • Author Ron Marasco is a master storyteller who weaves an incredible, believable story about a dog named Barley who learns about forgiveness, loyalty, and unconditional love along life’s journey in The Dog Who Was There. As I read The Dog Who Was There, I felt as though I was standing right beside Barley: my heart pounding as he faced fearful situations, my heart saddened as he dealt with heart-wrenching tragedies, and my heart cheered with joy as he triumphed.

  • The Dog Who Was There is a poignant and touching tale! Told from a pup’s point of view, I enjoyed experiencing first century Jerusalem through Barley’s eyes. His heart-wrenching story took me on an unexpected journey that stirred my emotions and warmed my heart!

  • I appreciated the grittiness of the story. We see the times of Jesus from the ground level so we get a taste of the dirt and squalor of certain areas of Jerusalem and other nearby locales.

    The last third of the novel was very good to read with a couple of very clever twists which amped up the emotional connection I had to the story.

  • I loved every moment of the story and found it hard to put down. It’s a great book and relates to our own struggles with forgiveness . What would it be like to meet the Messiah? I highly recommend this book to everyone.

  • I loved this portrayal of the final days of Jesus, and we are there with Barley, the dog we get to meet eight years before.
    We really are absorbed in the culture at the time, and I read the whole book with my heart in my throat, on the verge of tears. Guess I’m a dog lover, as if I didn’t know.

  • Moments says:

    I was not really sure what to expect this book to be, and I enjoyed it!  I thought it was very well-written as the time period came alive as did the various characters.  Barley you cannot help but love, and the rawness and honesty that comes with the story being from his perspective really portrays the truth of this story. 

  • I am a huge fan of biblical fiction and I was very excited about this book, however I was very disappointed. I felt as if the author was writing to a young child, not an adult. I didn’t connect with the characters, especially Barley the dog, which is who I needed to connect with to enjoy the book. I also felt as if Ron was telling a story not showing.

  • Amanda says:

    A fresh look at the life and times of Christ.;) I thought that this story was a lot of fun!

  • This story surely has captured my attention and my heart. Barley learns the meaning of love and survival at a very young age. It serves him well when he has to recall his survival instincts after his loving people don’t make it home one evening so he searches for them and learns that life as he knows it has changed again. This is a very entertaining story of survival, friendship, and love during the crucifixion of Christ.

  • More Of Him says:

    To see Jesus through the eyes of this sweet little dog was so fun and Barley was almost child-like in how he viewed others around him and the faith he always had himself. I love that he still tries to see the good in people even though he has been mistreated. I absolutely love dogs and to have him as the center of this book was really a delight. I highly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

  • The novel is told through the eyes of Barley, a small seven year old dog. The reader witnesses his search for a home, for love, for a place to belong. Barley is a metaphor for us – we all need a home, love and a place to belong. We find our home is not in bricks and mortar. Our home is in a person and His name is Jesus.

  • Wow! Wow! Wow!  What a powerful and heart wrenching story!  The author tells the story of Jesus and his love for us through the eyes of a dog named Barley. . . . This book is one that you will start and won’t put down until the end, the flow of the book keeps you reading from beginning to end.

  • Barley has an interesting point of view and is a good storyteller. If you can’t handle the descriptions of violence towards animals might want to steer clear of this book, since Barley doesn’t have the best or easiest life.

  • This book proves who man’s best friend is and how animals can do God’s work. I loved the ending and it made me cry. In a good way.

  • I’l be honest… I am not a dog lover, but I found myself really liking the dog in the story, cheering for him, feeling bad for him, and happy at the ending I was hoping for and that did happen. This is a very unique Biblical fiction novel, but is one worth reading and one that anyone will enjoy.

  • This book has been an unexpected treasure! The Dog Who Was There chronicles the journey – a very realistic journey of a dog who lived during Jesus’ earthly ministry. The events that take Barley (the name itself is a treasure!) from one household to another during the course of his lifetime are very realistic and entirely believable! I think the believability of Barley’s circumstance is what makes the final “revelation” so powerful!

  • WORD Up! says:

    “The Dog Who Was There” by Ron Marasco is a unique historical fiction novel about the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth from the perspective of a dog named Barley. I was drawn to the story because of the unique perspective and because I am a dog lover. It was definitely a different kind of story because of that.

  • The reader can’t help but love Barley. It was a great story that opens the readers eyes to see what it must have been like being apart of Jesus’ life being one of his followers friends. Being his
    ‘best friend’. I kind of had this scenario going on in my mind but the connection between Jesus and Barley really didn’t come out in the story until near the end.

  • What a fun book! Written from a totally different perspective, that of a dog which puts a very fun and different spin on everything. This book is very imaginative and fun that is quite the page turner. I love the supporting characters and the story line, it was such a fun little read, I highly recommend it!

  • This book was incredibly unique in the way that it was told. I have never read a book quite like this!

  • When I first heard about this adult novel, I loved the unique premise that the story would be told through the perspective of a dog wandering about first century Judea. I noticed several consistencies and writing choices that could have been stronger, but Barley himself is a wonderful character. The author does a lovely job of showing the dog’s instincts and natural desire to be in a ‘family’ group and love and protect.

  • Q: Describe your main characters in one sentence each, and tell me who you would cast in their roles if Hollywood wanted to produce The Dog Who Was There as a movie!

    Ron: Barley the main character of my book, The Dog Who Was There is a small dog who–like most dogs–can spot when a human being is or is not kind. So can you imagine how Barley feels when he encounters the kindest man who ever lived: a Teacher from Galilee? As to casting: I don’t know who I’d would choose to play Barley. But I would know it the moment I saw him. They way we do when we chose our pets. I took one look at the face of dog I now have and in one second I knew. She was mine and I was hers.

  • I have to admit that I shed a few tears towards the end of this book. Thank you, Mr. Marasco, for giving us this very touching story.

  • I am a dog lover and usually request the books with dogs as the main characters.  I was excited to read this one…..but as the ready went on I found I struggled greatly with reading it. It was some more challenging read. 

  • I liked how this author put in a few surprises for readers along this dog’s journey through Jerusalem. The author does a great job of showing Barley’s natural dog instincts and natural desire to love and protect his humans. Those traits are key in the plot of this novel. The Dog Who Was There is a great story about our Savior seen through the eyes of a dog.

  • WOW! What a thought provoking and really great read. This is a really great read especially at the Lent Season. This is a great story for the tween/teen that is looking for a great new read by a new author and with a powerful message.

  • WV Stitcher says:

    I loved Barley and felt like he was a wonderfully unique character and watching the scenes take place through his eyes were quite vivid and easily pulled me into the setting, and I could just imagine being there. Overall I would have to say that I enjoyed this book once I got past the first several chapters.

  • This story is told through dramatized narration and I give the book 5 stars for a story well told.

  • The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco makes the time of Christ come alive for us. The main character is a dog named Barley. He finds his way into your affections easily, and as he encounters the Messiah near the time near His crucifixion, you are afforded a view into this rich, heartbreaking, victorious time in our history as believers. The time upon which all of our great hope hinges.

  • I loved the book and the angle of how the book is told through the eyes of a dog. The book was well written and detailed.

  • I’ve never read a book quite like The Dog Who Was There and I enjoyed it very much. The story thoroughly entertains as a dog adventure, while touching me emotionally through its insight and complexity. There’s warmth and affection, but also grittiness, pain and loss.

  • Book by Book says:

    Giving a unique perspective on the life of Jesus, Ron Marasco’s The Dog Who Was There fascinated me with its premise. The dog of the title, Barley, journeys to Jerusalem and encounters Jesus among other unlikely and interesting characters, and I enjoyed this trip into biblical history. Marasco sets the scenes well for familiar events, adds a few surprises within Barley’s experience, and naturally weaves in the necessary spiritual themes.

  • There have been many books written on the story of Jesus, but none quite like this! It puts a new twist on the story, a different view & adds a loving animal!

    The book is so well written that I couldn’t put it down! It has such a sweet message for the reader and really draws you in. Since it’s written from an all together different angle it can appeal to so many readers. It’s extremely heart warming and very touching. It’s one of those books you think about days after finishing it!

    I give this book an A+ and recommend that anyone read it!

  • The Dog Who Was There is a beautiful story by Ron Marasco. When I read the description of this book I was drawn into the story. Ron Marasco writes with authority about the Bible, Jesus’s journey, the others that followed Jesus, and the history behind all of it. I loved the fact that this story is written through the eyes of Barley, a dog who finds himself homeless and ends up encountering Jesus. I enjoyed Ron Marasco’s writing style, I really felt like I was there with Barley on his journey and his version of this part of the Bible.

  • I was excited to read this book and thought it would be an interesting idea. The author jumped points of view often, and that made it kind of confusing to keep up with at points. I really appreciated the look that it gave us of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ life – especially the more poor lifestyles. I also appreciated the look that the author took in terms of the violent disregard the Romans had for life.

  • I think it is a great book for young teens and older ages, especially the conclusion will grab their hearts and attention. The central character might be the dog, but the travels of the dog are all leading to one outstanding and historical event that can impact and change lives today.

  • I enjoyed the book and recommend it. Although it’s an adult book, the writing is clear and simple as befits the story told by the dog. Unless there is an objection to the violent scenes, this book could also be enjoyed by young adult readers.

  • “The Dog Who Was There” is a delightful read. The story centers around a stray dog named Barley who is rescued by a couple during the time period of Jesus’ ministry. This is a sweet novel that will keep you turning the page until the end. However, if you read this keep in mind that this is meant to be read as a novel and not a theology book. I am interested in what the authors next novel will be.

  • Marasco is a great storyteller! Teens (and tweens, if some of the violent descriptions wouldn’t bother them) would enjoy this read. With Easter coming up, this is a perfect time to pick up this book.

  • Write a Review

     characters available