Del Mar man ‘co-authors’ life advice book with his dog

A cartoon of Scott MacDonald with his rescue dog, Sadie
(Marty Bucella)

Scott MacDonald had trouble keeping his dog, Sadie, off the bed at night.

As soon as MacDonald would finally close his eyes, Sadie knew the coast was clear and it was her time to cuddle with her human. The Del Mar man would wake up throughout the night and tell the six-year-old mixed lab to get off the bed, only for the mutt to jump back on.

Eventually, a restless MacDonald gave in. Sadie's persistence had won, and MacDonald realized a valuable lesson: persistence can pay off.

Scott MacDonald
Scott MacDonald and Sadie Coast Highway Photography

"That's kind of like in life," MacDonald said. "Not taking no for an answer. ... So when someone says, 'No, you can't do this,' I think of Sadie. She just does it and she wins. You don't always win, obviously, but those who persist in righteous things do tend to have more opportunity to prevail."

MacDonald, who offers scholarships for about a half dozen universities, took lessons like this and shaped them into his second book, "Think Like a Dog: How Dogs Teach Us to Be Happy in Life and Successful at Work."

The book — "co-authored" by Sadie, who has chapter openings written by MacDonald in the dog’s point of view — is slated to be released April 1 through University Press.

It offers metaphor-driven life tips such as how to communicate effectively, living in the moment, knowing when to bark (or speak up) and chasing cars (or goals).

Each of the 21 chapters in the 216-page book also offers a cartoon by Marty Bucella and short vignettes about other North County canines.

At first, MacDonald — who has served as a CEO or president at several troubled companies — wrote the book with a business slant but changed it to be friendlier and more attractive to readers of all types.

"[A publisher] said this is really interesting and your writing is really good, but from a marketing perspective, you need to expand the focus," MacDonald remembered. "Everyone who owns a dog is not necessarily interested in business tactics. You need to broaden it more."

Think Like a Dog
"Think Like a Dog" Courtesy

He then endured a year of research and referred to psychologists for assistance. The end product was a "how to live your life" book that he was encouraged to publish by University Press.

MacDonald, who also serves on Del Mar's Finance Committee and has written philanthropic books, was introduced to Sadie about four years ago by his son, who rescued the dog in Texas but was unable to keep her.

Since then, MacDonald said the dog has taught him various life lessons that he now hopes to pass on to his readers.

"Dogs around here have a pretty nice life," he said. "So, there's a benefit in recognizing life around you, embracing it and connecting with people. ... People should connect and understand where the other person is coming from. Dogs can teach us that better than, I think, our parents or someone lecturing us."

To pre-order "Think Like a Dog," visit For more information about Sadie and McDonald, visit