Dashing actor lets his dog give the advice
“Before Your Dog Can Eat Your Homework, First You Have to Do It,” by John O’Hurley. Hudson Street Press. 2007. 152 pp. $21.95.By Mary Rice Patterson
For the Salisbury Post
I like the subtitle better: “Life Lessons From a Wise Old Dog to a Young Boy.”
Award-winning actor, host and bestselling author John O’Hurley shows in “Before Your Dog Can Eat Your Homework, First You Have to Do It” how much he adores his dog, Scoshi, as he introduces him to his newborn son and translates the dog’s thoughts into notes as the dog comes to know this “little pink thing” that has been added to their household.
“The instant the front door opened on a late December afternoon and a heavily quilted lump was carried to a freshly blued room upstairs everything in each of our lives changed.”
O’Hurley often flashes back to his life and lessons that he learned while attending a Catholic school in downtown Hartford, Conn.
“I asked our teacher, Sister Marie Noel … why it was that an infant had the characteristics of both parents when really, the father seemingly had nothing to do with the pregnancy.”
First there was silence in the class, then a roar of laughter followed. Apparently he hadn’t learned anything from this episode, as he pursued the subject further when he got home. His mother informed him that his father would talk to him later, which he did by dim light until midnight and finally he knew what everyone else in the world already did.
In the course of time, he tells of the birth of his son, William, and shares many special moments as the “new pink thing” is introduced to Betty (a Labrador retriever mix) and Scoshi (a Maltese).
They seem to ask, “Who are you?”
O’Hurley continues with stories from his past of fishing trips with his father and later with his dog Scoshi and relates small victories and sometimes losses as he fought the usual battles of childhood. He writes with an easy and flowing style as if he has total recall, describing in detail his problems and how they were solved.
“I remember a late afternoon in our small college chapel during my senior year at school as I struggled with what to make of my life, I remember the golden rays of the late-winter sunsets piercing through the stained glass and the chapel was mottled with colored shadows. I was alone there. As I shifted my weight on the kneeler, the wooden pew would crackle and echo. The chapel had a deeper kind of silence, heavier than normal. It was the first time in my life that I truly felt the presence of God.”
After the loss of his friend Bob (killed in a crash by a drunk driver) O’Hurley dedicates himself to his pursuit of an acting career, leaving his job and going to New York. It is very interesting how he gained confidence and overcame any fear of performing in front of large audiences.
In this book, we see the depth of O’Hurley’s character as he gives the credit for the writing to his dog Scoshi and in his own mind he contemplates the complicated relationships of a young man who becomes a father and feels the emotions and awareness of the continuing cycle of life. This is a small book in size, but large in the lessons of life.
Mary Rice Patterson reads and writes in China Grove.