Owen Sound Sun Times


Friday, December 22, 2006

Andrew Armitage

When Marsha Boulton's Wally's World: Life With Wally the Wonder Dog (McArthur, $24.95) came in for review, I thought, "Bowser, a doggie book for Christmas reading." Well it is and it isn't.

Marsha Boulton is the Leacock Award-winning author of Letters to the Country as well as other humorous books and columns. She lives on a farm near Mount Forest with her partner, Stephen Williams, and Wally the Wonder Dog, a goofy-looking bull terrier. The pair, both writers, moved to the country in 1981. Dog lovers, they had already lost two canines, one to a falling tree, the other to a cement truck, when they got Wally.

If you like pets, you will love Wally's World. "Wally uses his bully front paws as adeptly as Oscar Peterson uses his hands on the piano . . . he jumps in the air to make a header and has bounced tennis balls off his nose since he was a puppy."

But this hilarious memoir changes just about the time Wally goes to obedience school. Williams, the author of two books on the Paul and Karla horrors, runs afoul of the police when he refuses to turn over his sources. The farm was raided, files, computers and hard drives taken, including the manuscript of a novel on which Boulton was working. The whole story was well-reported in the newspapers.

So, here I am enjoying Wally's wicked, wonderful and weird adventures when the story caves in, becoming a test in freedom of the press and speech. And there I go, cheering along Wally, booing the police and rushing out to sign up for PEN Canada. Well, it sure took my mind off Christmas.