BOOK REVIEW

‘Spike Unleashed: The Wonder Dog Returns’ will unleash your funny bone

Linda Leuzzi
Posted 10/5/23

The book is funny. Really. Hilariously, irreverently, off-the-top funny.

In “Spike Unleashed” (Post Hill Press), a sequel to “The Adventures of Spike the Wonder Dog” by …

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BOOK REVIEW

‘Spike Unleashed: The Wonder Dog Returns’ will unleash your funny bone

Posted

The book is funny. Really. Hilariously, irreverently, off-the-top funny.

In “Spike Unleashed” (Post Hill Press), a sequel to “The Adventures of Spike the Wonder Dog” by television personality and Long Islander Bill Boggs, Spike speaks as owner Bud’s English bull terrier. This canine dude is a spunky, smart force providing savvy observations on society while he and talk-show host Bud are plunged into you-can’t-make-this-up adventures.

(Well, Boggs does with a master comic’s touch.)

A short synopsis: Bud, talk-show host of “Southern Exposure” in High Point, N.C., with Spike, attempts to buy his station from the eccentric owner, who has certain unusual stipulations. Then, he and Spike attempt to dodge the mean dogfighting boxer out of prison, who wants to extract an awful revenge.

Prince Harry stars in a “Crocodile Man” movie, pursued by a mechanical crocodile, and besides Prince Harry, who comes off okay, there’s a lot of famous name-dropping. Also, satire.

But the aim, Boggs said, is to make people laugh and to lighten up.

At the helm of a stellar career, Boggs is a Long Islander and a four-time Emmy Award-winning TV host and producer. His prodigious credits include “Midday Live” out of New York City and food programs on PBS, ABC, NBC, ESPN, Travel Channel and Showtime; he was the co-creator of “Comedy Tonight.” This is his second Spike book.

“I’m writing in the voice of an outsider observing society,” Boggs said. “Spike enables me to do this.”

Boggs, an engaging, kind man, was asked about his writing process during an interview at the New York Public Library and how long the book took.

“It was a concentrated year and a half,” he said. “I wrote in the afternoon. The key is to block out time for an hour and a half and put the phone on silent. You set an objective for yourself. It was, frankly, the happiest part of the day for me. I was concentrating on writing.”

He pops in backgrounds from Palm Beach, East Hampton and New York City, all areas he wrote from. Among the bon mots: the Palm Beach Social Climbers Anonymous Meeting; the Commission from Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth, who creates gasless corgis; and also Angry Man Meals, because Todd Corker, a guest on Bud’s show, discusses the market for them.

In fiction, there are always bits of real-life characters thrown in. Was “Ike” Money Piles, the boxer who Spike revealed to be running a dogfighting ring and ultimately went to prison, a real person?

“His character is based on various hustlers I’ve known in Las Vegas,” Boggs replied. “Also, on a guy who would do anything for publicity.”

Spike mentions Bud meeting Sinatra at Caesar’s Palace; then, Old Blue Eyes offered to be a guest on his show.

Did that really happen?

“Yes. I was introduced to him at Caesar’s Palace on a very early Sunday morning, after his show. I flew there because of a friend’s birthday, and we talked for almost 15 minutes. At the end of the conversation, he said this: ‘This fall, I’ll be in New York with Ella [Fitzgerald] and [Count] Basie and I’ll drop by.’ I said, ‘I’m not asking you to do the show.’ And he said, ‘I know you’re not, but I’ll come.’ And he did do a ‘Midday Live,’ as promised.”

Boggs has owned two English bull terriers, one actually named Spike, and is without a canine right now because of traveling, but he’s leaning towards another and has attended ARF fundraisers and Southampton Animal Shelter’s Unconditional Love Gala. It’s where he got the idea for Jane, the golden retriever and eventually Spike’s girlfriend, who was walked around and ultimately adopted. Proceeds from the book will be donated to animal rescue organizations.

Boggs said another Spike book is percolating for a trilogy. He pulled out a small notebook that he keeps with him at all times to pop in ideas as they come.

Ever on the move, here’s what he’s in the middle of.

“Right now, I’m promoting this book and have been waiting for the actor’s strike to end to sell Spike books as an adult cartoon series,” he said.

“And there are five stage shows I do, including, ‘Confessions of a Talk Show Host.’ I’ve done ‘Memories of Sinatra’ at Guild Hall and in Palm Springs. I’ll be doing a ‘Rat Pack Revival’, a 90-minute show, and just spent three hours getting the technical stuff with the video clips right.”