Stephen Foster

Photo from Stephen Foster's blog

I’m sad and shocked today; I just learned that one of my favorite authors, Stephen Foster, has died. He wrote “Walking Ollie” and “Fetching Dylan,” the best books about living with dogs that I have ever read, as well as “From Working Class Hero to Absolute Disgrace,” an informative (for me) and hysterically funny memoir about class. He was a UK author and I have not been able to find his other books here in Oregon, but I gather he and I both came from an underdog, anti-elitist background though our cultures had some radical differences.

I can’t say enough about what a wonderful writer he was. While the three books I read had me screaming with laughter, I couldn’t see the screen through my tears when he posted on his blog about the death of his dog Ollie (the one on the right in the picture). I felt like I knew that dog and grieved the way I have over my own lost pets, “Walking Ollie” gripped me so hard.

His blog–with its scattered and highly varied subject matter which includes dogs, sports, photography, cooking, art, poetry, music, and everything else he could think of–was the direct inspiration for this blog. I have followed his blog regularly for years now, and around the middle of June, his posts stopped. His mum was ill, and I feared the worst. I checked again today and finally there was a post… the last one, put up there by his partner, Trezza Azzopardi. He had just came out with a new book, too.

Ollie died years back, but every so often, there’d be a post with a photo saying he still really missed that dog. As Trezza, his partner, wrote, “he’ll be walking with Ollie now.” As tears blur this page, I want to say farewell, and thank you, thank you, thank you for the inspiration you’ve been. I’d counted on more of your books trickling across the pond for years and years, and I will so miss reading your blog.

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7 responses to “Stephen Foster

  1. Dear Kate–
    How strange, how interesting. I had never heard of the writer Stephen Foster but was very familiar with the 1800s songwriter Stephen Foster, the “father of American Music.” What a treat when my brain started playing back Oh, Susanna, Camptown Races, Swanee River, Kentucky Home, and even Nelly Bly. Now I’ll check this 20th century author and see if there is any connection–was Stephen Foster his adopted name?
    Note: I sent your blog to my daughter Mara. She has just moved to Walla Walla (w2). Hope you writers/bloggers will someday meet each other–think you’d enjoy each other’s take on life. Her blog Winter goes West is about a girl’s cross country couchsurfing adventure with her rambuctious, sweet flat/black retriever Winter and later included her family addition, Smudge, the lady husky/coyote with the Kohl black eyeliner.

  2. Thanks Hare. There’s no relationship at all; I think that question might have come up a couple of years ago in his blog and he wasn’t even familiar with the songwriter! I discovered his book purely by chance in the new book section of the library; I checked it out and didn’t want to give it back! I couldn’t find “Winter Goes West;” could you send me the link?

  3. Kate, Thank you so much for your post. I was just about to give up the search for “Stephen Foster, Author when I saw your post with the sad news. I recently picked up a copy of “Walking Ollie” in a thrift store and loved it so much I read it twice. I especially enjoyed his descriptions of other dog owners. Very funny. I was searching for him for two reasons: I have a young Doberman who I also named Dylan after yes, Bob. And “Walking Ollie” has given me some new insight into my dog’s psyche (he was a rescue as well and I spend hours agonizing over his neuroses). I thought Mr. Foster might have a blog and I wanted to thank him and tell him how much I appreciated his book and that I also named my dog Dylan. I am so sorry to hear about his passing. And so he’ll be walking with Ollie. Someone once said, ‘there is separate heaven for dogs; I hope not because I want to be with all the dogs I’ve met along the way, and especially the few who I’ve shared my life and love with.

  4. Thanks, Debra. I agree with you–if there was a separate heaven for animals, it wouldn’t be heaven, would it? I believe we’ve both got dogs waiting for us.

  5. ..How come it says he is dead on a website, I had just funished reading his book ”walking with Ollie” While I am housitting 3 dogs.
    I am a French Canadian Petsitter living in British Columbia Canadia, I deal with all sort of canines and owners and the book sure added to my knowledge: I learned a lot about Lucher breeds I never new about in Canada.
    I learned about Stephen perseverance and his humanity. I am also sorry truly for his family, I was so inspired reading through his whole experience raising Ollie in his household
    I don’t know if Stephen anxiety attacks have any relevance to his death and I deal with this condition too. I related to him and Ollie and wish the best to his love ones.

  6. I am sorry why does it say that my comment is awaiting moderation?

  7. Hi Terry,
    I’m not sure. I did approve it as soon as I got the email. You might enjoy the sequel to “Walking Ollie,” “Fetching Dylan.”
    Kate

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