Thursday, June 27, 2013
A man who has lost everything loses his faith in the world and becomes a roaming hobo until a crippled dog finds him and saves his life.
That’s the premise of the second book published by Goose Creek resident Tony Ratliff.
“The Hobo and the Dog: A Tale of Prayer, Pets and Healing” was published in February by Wheatmark and is available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and as an e-book.
Ratliff took his beloved golden retriever to a specialist and spent thousands of dollars to try help its health problems. “The dog died in spite of it,” he said. “It broke my heart.”
Taylor was only three years old when she died of kidney failure.
Miraculously, Ratliff eventually found an abandoned golden retriever on the side of Cypress Gardens Road on his way to work. Ratliff said the idea for the book started nearly a decade ago when he wrote a 40-page poem about finding this dog.
Ratliff said he fed the skittish dog daily until eventually he was able to pet him then take him home.
Ratliff wrote the book over the last three years in his writing studio in Goose Creek’s Foxborough neighborhood. He has lived in the city since 1970.
“This book is heavy into holistic healing . . . the power of poem, music therapy, prayer and pets for healing,” Ratliff said. “Eventually it all comes together. That was how this book was written.
“A book like this you can’t just write overnight. I used to have a writing habit. I would get up about 5 a.m. and write two or three hours, maybe until 9. I was also writing other things at the time.
“Whenever you have a thought you need to write it down or it’ll get away. It has to be a discipline, you need to take control and do it, like Hemingway said. You can’t wait to be moved.”
Ratliff said creating a book does not begin and end with writing.
“Editing is one of the most important and complicated things in the writing process,” he said.
Ratliff said he read the book 50 times looking for mistakes and had two professionals (one is a professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh) edit it as well.
Ratliff’s writing studio is filled with bookshelves packed to the brim. Included in the room are a host of reference books. “I have the entire Library of Congress at my fingertips,” he said, holding up his iPhone.
“This is a very sad story in a way,” Ratliff said of his latest effort. “This dog was dropped. It was an abandoned dog. Then I dropped back in time a few years. A man and wife were trying to have a baby, she finally did, but she lost the baby and he lost her.”
While he’s not writing Ratliff has hobbies such as playing a classical guitar and collecting ducks and Yodas.
He also enjoys reading existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. “We need more people like him,” he said.