The Dog That Saved Me

The Author Interview with Captain Tom Toler

In Memory of Captain Tom, March 14th 1952 - September 7th 2020


Why did you decide to write this book?

One day, I took a long, hard look at my life. I had divorced my only wife. My mother and father were dead. My younger brother had passed away. I had no family left. I had sold my beloved

boat. My dog had died. I was all alone. I realized that when I died, the stories of those people precious to me would be gone. If I didn’t put them down in writing, no one would ever know they existed. That’s when I decided to begin this project.

How long did it take you?

About two years. I worked hard on it for a while then put it aside. My health issues continually interfered with the book. Finally, I was able to stay healthy long enough to get it over the finish line.

What kind of research did you conduct?

I had to go back through the scrapbooks of my life. This forced me to reconstruct my past with newspaper clippings, awards, and interviews of people still living. It was fun going back through it all. But, at times, it was maddening. I’m glad all that work is done. Oh, and one topic I had to research was the final trip of my boat back to its birthplace. I wanted the original dealer to take and sell it again. I knew he’d find a good home for it. So, I had to research all the stops along the way. I also needed a designer to create a map of the trip. I think he did a great job.


What surprised you about writing or publishing your book?

There were a lot of surprises. I was shocked at how much work there was. I’m not afraid of a little dust and sweat, but this was a mental kind of work. Then there were the proofreadings over and over. Finally, I was surprised at all the little details that go into publishing a book. Now that mine is done, I have a lot of respect for other authors.


Why did you choose the Kindle Direct Publishing platform to publish your book?

A book publishing consultant recommended it. He walked me through the pluses and minuses of different publishing organizations. When I considered how much I would keep from each sale, the control of the content, and the speed to publication, it was an easy decision.


If you had to do it all over again, what would you change?

I would have started earlier in my life when my health was perfect. By waiting too long, I almost missed the boat. That would have been tragic.


What advice would you give to new writers out there?

Like I said above, start now. You never know about your health or your loved ones. Every day you wait, you risk losing someone. If you are doing a memoir, there is a ton of research to complete. Don’t underestimate the workload. And get a consultant to help you. They’re worth the money.


Is there anything else you want to say?

Writing this memoir caused me to look back on my life—at all the things I did right and just, and all the things I did terribly. There were times when I cried to myself for the people I hurt. If I could go back in time, I’d do things differently. All I can do is ask for their forgiveness. And, of course, I hope to see my precious dog, Duke, on the other side.


Author Bio


After twenty-eight good years with American Airlines, Captain Tom Toler retired in 2004. In 2006, the U.S. Coast Guard swore him in when he earned his Master of Steam or Motor Vessels of not more than 100 Tons Upon or Near Coastal Waters. He spent the next ten years traveling all over America’s lakes, rivers, and coasts. After fifty years of life in the skies and on the water, Captain

Tom came back to land where he spent the remainder of his life giving speeches and meeting with book clubs and other groups.


Book Detail

When sixty-two-year-old Captain Tom Toler sets out on a bright afternoon from Panama City, Florida, it seems nothing will stand in the way of his final journey to sell his yacht, the Prima D. Accompanied by his trusty Blue Heeler, Duke, Captain Tom is certain the ocean’s gentle swells will land them safely in Clearwater. On a day like today, nothing will go wrong.


Until it does.


A sudden storm arrives, instantly transforming Captain Tom’s pleasure cruise into a life-and-death struggle between man and sea. Suffering from deep exhaustion, he knows the second he falls asleep, the boat will founder and capsize. Duke knows it too. In this vivid, true story, a special dog makes it his job to save his master’s life while leading him on a journey to self-awakening, forgiveness, and redemption.


Climb on board with Captain Tom as he relives his life—every success, and every failure. Between dealing with his family’s mafia connections, piloting countless jets, planes, and boats, and surviving 9/11, he comes to recognize what is most important in a life filled with adventure—and it’s a little closer to home than he thought.


The Dog That Saved Me.

This isn’t your average dog.

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