Dogs in Canada

May 2007

Book review
Leslie C. Smith

Wally's World
Marsha Boulton
McArthur & Company
ISBN 1-55278-613-7
241 pages

By anyone's estimation “Wally,” hero of Wally's World, must be one hell of a dog, The Bull Terrier possessing "a face like a bicycle seat with two eyes" plays soccer, carries toy balls around in a pail, and enjoys committing unnatural sexual acts with leather pillows, He also has amused and comforted Marsha Boulton throughout a decade of difficulties, including her treatment for cancer, cessation of smoking, and the deaths of other beloved animals on the family's farm. But the real nightmare in their lives revolved around her husband, Stephen Williams, a crime reporter who covered the Bernardo-Homolka trials and penned two books on the subject. From the moment his first book was published, Williams and, by extension, his wile, were subject to an institutionalized vendetta, involving police stakeouts and raids, confiscation of research and writing materials, handcuffs and, eventually, nearly 100 charges laid by the Crown. After many years, the case against Williams was resolved, and he received 75 hours of community service.
     Through this period, Wally stood firm, offering a positive focus for the pair, occasionally "taking it on the lam" with them when the going got too tough, delighting hotel staff, reporters and even the occasional police officer with his proclivity for clowning.
     Yet Wally had his own troubles. Lyme disease attacked his body, tormenting the dog and his adoring parents. His share of medical emergencies have included being butted in the spleen by an angry goat, and stomach surgery to retrieve an ingested section of Boulton's underpants.
     Boulton won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour a few years ago, and her ready wit peeps out from the pages of Wally's World. However, the book was not written as a humour piece, but rather as a catharsis, allowing her to relieve the tensions she underwent and to break through the writer's block that resulted from the unconstitutional confiscation of her personal files and computer.
     In the end, she asks herself: "How could I have managed... without having that mug to smile at every morning? When the worst things happened, he never wavered. When the funniest things happened, he was at the heart of them."
     Wally is still very much at the heart of things, living peacefully (at least, for him) on the farm. And now, thanks to Wally’s World, he has a chance to muscle his way into readers' hearts as well.