Wally's Week - Owen Sound


Saturday, May 12, 2007 - 08:00

Writer lends her celebrity to help find homes for rescued pets; No-kill policy at city shelter can mean long stays for some animals

Byline: Scott Dunn

[This is a story of two dogs named Wally.

One is a privileged old pooch, the subject of Marsha Boulton's latest book - "Wally's World: Life with Wally the Wonder Dog" - a memoir of her life with dogs, particularly her bull terrier, Wally.

The other is a shelter dog, a boxer/ hound who's time was up at a Hamilton animal control shelter. The Owen Sound Animal Shelter's Renee Robins took him in and saved his life. Her no-kill policy is renowned among dog rescuers.

Robins renamed the shelter dog Wally from Pauly in honour of the celebrity dog, which visited the shelter Friday afternoon as part of Boulton's initiative to help pets without homes.

Boulton delivered free copies of her book plus doggy treats and supplies for anyone who adopts a dog from the shelter between May 16 - 23, dubbed Wally's Week.

Robins said the no-kill policy adds pressure to adopt out animals, but she's careful to screen both animals and folks who want to adopt to ensure the right fit. While some dogs stay just a day before they're adopted, the average stay is a month.

While Boulton visited with Wally the shelter dog, her own Wally lay flopped on the leather back seat of an SUV while Boulton's husband, Stephen Williams, waited in the driver's seat. He's a celebrity himself, author of two controversial books about serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka.

He was criminally charged, jailed and the couple were financially ruined while free-speech activists took up his cause.

"It has been said of us 'She's funny, he is not,'" Boulton quipped dryly.

She's used to being around celebrities. She wrote about them for seven years at Maclean's magazine. She tells of having a martini with Cary Grant and lunch with Sophia Loren.

Boulton has been raising sheep near Harriston for 28 years. She got the idea to raise the profile of animal shelters while at a dog show in Thorold, Ont., a month ago.

"The thought of all these dogs, so sleek and well-tended, made me think of the other end of the spectrum - dogs that do not have loving homes," she wrote in an e-mail before her visit.

She hopes "Wally's Week" will catch on at other shelters.

Boulton is in Owen Sound today to lead a humor writing workshop at the Ginger Press. She won the Leacock Medal for Humour for her second book, "Letters from the Country," a series of letters full of funny farm stories written to her urban friends.

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